Restaurant Management 101 | Restaurant Management Schools

by Aimee Pokwatka
CulinaryEd Columnist
May 19, 2011

It takes more than great food to make a restaurant successful. Behind the scenes, every restaurant needs an organized, business-oriented manager to ensure that meals get to diners smoothly. If you're dedicated to creating a memorable dining experience, then restaurant management might be the perfect culinary career for you.

What is a Restaurant Manager?

Restaurant managers are responsible for coordinating all the daily operations of restaurants and other dining establishments. They direct activities in the kitchen, dining room, and bar. In a busy restaurant, the job of a restaurant manager is often hectic and stressful, requiring long hours and an ability to calmly deal with dissatisfied customers.

A Day in the Life of a Restaurant Manager

It's not unusual for a restaurant manager to work 12 or more hours a day, seven days a week. Besides making sure that customers are enjoying their dining experiences, a manager deals with all the problems--minor and otherwise--that crop up during the day. Here are a few of a restaurant manager's responsibilities:

  • Inventory. A restaurant manager usually begins the day by doing inventory of food, equipment, and supplies and placing orders. Working with the chef, the manager helps plan the menu and set prices.
  • The Dining Room. As meals are served, spending time in the dining room is essential to making sure diners are enjoying their meals.
  • Administration. A restaurant manager's administrative and human resources duties include hiring, training, and evaluating the staff, as well as keeping track of sales, receipts, and deposits.
  • Customers. If a customer makes a complaint about the quality of the food or the service, a manager investigates the complaint and deals with the issue.
  • Safety. A restaurant manager is also responsible for maintaining safety and health standards and following local liquor regulations.


Getting the Job

A restaurant manager must be able to fill in for any position in the restaurant, so experience in food service is vital to the job. You can start your culinary career with a degree in restaurant or food service management, or you can attend a culinary school for training in both cooking and business.

The number of restaurants increases as the population grows, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for restaurant managers are expected to grow steadily in the future. Restaurant managers work in all types of dining facilities, including casinos, hotels, schools, and nursing homes. A restaurant manager can expect to make between $25,000 and $70,000 a year, depending on his or her experience. For many managers, the ultimate goal is restaurant ownership, and 40% of restaurant managers are self-employed.

On the Job

Developing a new restaurant takes someone with business savvy and lots of experience, and restaurant manager Oliver Wharton has worked his way to the top. Wharton was instilled with a love of the business at an early age; his father owned a restaurant in New York when he was growing up.

After studying hospitality management at Cornell University, Wharton gained restaurant experience, eventually landing a position working for renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Wharton's experience paid off when he began working for the Light Group, a prominent nightclub and bar management organization. Most recently, Wharton has worked in Las Vegas as Director of Operations at Stack Restaurant at The Mirage and Fix Restaurant at The Bellagio.

Becoming a restaurant manager requires dedication and an ability to calmly deal with all the problems that are part of the restaurant industry. It also provides you with an opportunity to use your business skills and to interact with diners to give them the best possible experience. If you're looking for a challenging and rewarding culinary career, restaurant management might be perfect for you.


About the Author

Aimee Pokwatka is a graduate student at Syracuse University and holds a B.A. degree in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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