How do I Become a Deli Manager?

Sheri Cyprus

Managing a delicatessen, or deli, effectively means being able to oversee many different components at once. Food supplies must be ordered in usable amounts to prevent spoilage, and food preparation has to comply with safety laws. Also, you'll need to oversee accounting and bookkeeping services. As a deli manager, you must understand all aspects of supervising staff from hiring and training to firing unproductive workers if necessary. If you want to become a deli manager, ultimately you must concentrate on customer service and supplying products buyers want while working your way up from assistant supervisory positions.

Mortadella, a type of deli meat.
Mortadella, a type of deli meat.

Classic delicatessen food has a Jewish and/or Italian flavor with meat sandwiches as the menu focus. Many people enjoy favorites such as hot pastrami on rye bread or an Italian meat and cheese submarine sandwich. Popular deli side dishes include matzo ball soup and coleslaw; dill pickles are a traditional accompaniment to the sandwiches although carrot sticks may also be offered. In addition to having sandwiches, soups and salads ready or custom made for customers, many delis also slice, weigh, price and sell meats by ounces or grams. To become a deli manager with food items that sell well, meeting buyer's expectations for both quality and selection is important.

A pastrami sandwich from a deli.
A pastrami sandwich from a deli.

Working full time as an assistant deli manager for a year or more is usually a necessary step before running the eatery. It takes hands-on experience to develop quick customer service and have the needed food supplies consistently in stock. Effective staff management is especially crucial in food service businesses since the employee turnover rate can be high.

Some delis require aspiring managers to take an exam before being considered for hire. Food safety licenses or certificates may also be required for restaurant workers depending on the country and local area. Since meat slicer machines as well as uncooked meats can harbor dangerous bacteria such as listeria, which can cause brain and blood problems, hands-on knowledge of how to clean these machines is needed to become a deli manager.

Working your way up in the delicatessen industry is a good way to eventually get to the management level. Slicing meats, chopping sandwich fillings, cleaning equipment and preparing orders for customers in an efficient and consistent manager can impress a supervisor. Getting along with other workers and helping to motivate them shows good leadership; this may get you chosen as a shift supervisor. After becoming a shift supervisor, it's usually possible to work up to an assistant manager position, although it may take a year or more depending on the deli. As long as your assistant work is consistent with the needs of the restaurant and you take the initiative to make improvements while also taking direction well, you should eventually be able to become a deli manager.

A deli manager is in charge of bookkeeping.
A deli manager is in charge of bookkeeping.

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