Restaurant Management: A Career Perspective

The job of a restaurant manage is one of the most varied careers in existence. It is the manager’s responsibility to offer service, food and drink to the public at a price they are willing to pay. This sounds more simple than it really is. Many people think managing a restaurant is an easy job, but it actually is quite complicated, and it requires many different skills, a strong ability to adjust to change and excellent problem solving skills. The smaller restaurants are often owned and operated by the same person and family members are also often involved. However, the larger restaurants generally hire a restaurant management specialist with skills and experience. There is no actual educational requirement, but business and management degrees are preferred, because the occupation is quite demanding. Stress level is high for restaurant managers, as this business is fast paced and fraught with problems, so the manager needs to have tolerance for high stress and the ability to manage problems (or keep their heads when everyone about is losing theirs.

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In large restaurants the manager is generally more of an administrator than a hands-on worker, though some hands-on now and then is required. The responsibilities of a restaurant manager fall into four broad categories: Human Resources, Administration, Business Development and Operations.

  • Human resources includes the overseeing of hiring and firing, the direct involvement in the hiring and management of department heads, the sourcing of applicants, the creation and monitoring of HR policy, the definition and description of jobs, the creation and oversight of a training program, the compliance with labor laws and the provision of a contact person for employees.
  • Administration includes the oversight of all departments and their functions. The manager must make sure that all employment laws are known and that the restaurant is in compliance, especially with safety regulations. The manager must meet regularly with all department heads and exchange information and feedback, make plans and share vision with them. He or she must know something about the operations of each department, especially those things which are considered to be critical. This means he or she need knowledge in:
    • accounting and finance, dealing with all aspects of finance, wages and taxation etc.
    • business law – the company must be continually in compliance with all laws applicable to it
    •  psychology, personnel and motivation, leadership and governancе
    • culinary arts
    • various skills in the kitchen and their relative importance
    • service, what is involved in serving the public well
    • customer relations
    • dealing with problems
    • supplier and partner relations
    • getting the most out of these relationships and cultivating good will among suppliers
    •  health and safety the various laws which apply to employment and also to public premises
    • marketing and strategic planning
    • a knowledge of the target customer and the local community
    • an excellent knowledge of marketing and advertising
    • a true sense of what sells
    • engineering
    • the machinery in the kitchen and the heating, cooling and security systems must be maintained and sometimes repaired. The manager needs to have enough knowledge to oversee this competently.
  • Business Development is the development of the individual restaurant and the brand which represent it. The restaurant may already be part of a chain, and it will have to comply with the requirements of the chain, but also be innovative in its marketing and strategic management in order to appeal to the public. Marketing is a key factor to running a profitable business. The manager must know the target and the local community very well and be well acquainted with solid marketing and advertising concepts. Even though the large restaurants often have marketing personnel or outsource this to specialized companies, the manager, and even the owner, may be directly involved in dealing with this aspect of the business. In chains, this must be coordinated with the head office, and the benefits include cost sharing. Even a chain restaurant with good management will stand out.
  • Operations entails overseeing, directly or indirectly, the day to day operation of the restaurant, including everything from purchasing and delivery to fixing the roof. The manager should have an intimate knowledge of each and every job which is done in the restaurant, even going so far as to try them out or shadow a good employee for a bit. When things work well, this is not important, but it is critical when things go wrong. The manager is a problem solver more than anything else.

From these descriptions, we can see why a college degree and some experience in the industry is preferred. The manager’s job is critical to the smooth operation of any restaurant and he or she can make or break the profit line. So many skills are required that this person must be a life-long learner, wiling to adapt to change and able to troubleshoot problems. This is an interesting and demanding career.


  1. Avery, Christine, and Diane Zabel. The Quality Management Sourcebook: An International Guide to Materials and Resources. New York: Routledge, 1996.
  2. Bassett, Glenn. Operations Management for Service Industries: Competing in the Service Era. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 1992.
  3. Haire, Mason. Psychology in Management. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1956. Nersesian, Roy L. Trends and Tools for Operations Management: An Updated Guide for Executives and Managers. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2000.
  4. State University, 2007, Restaurant Manager Job Description, Career as a Restaurant Manager, Salary, Employment – Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
  5. Whitley, R. D. “37 The Social Construction of Business Systems in East Asia.” Comparative Management: Critical Perspectives on Business and Management. Ed. Malcolm Warner. Vol. 3. London: Routledge, 2001. 777-799.
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