What does a Restaurant Manager do?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Depending on the size and scope of the operation, a restaurant managers wears many different hats throughout the day. Some of these responsibilities may be delegated to assistant managers or trusted staff members, but the manager position still carries a significant number of duties and obligations. It is not unusual for a person with this role in a large commercial restaurant to work at least 60 hours a week or more.

A restaurant manager is responsible for handling any food and drink complaints.
A restaurant manager is responsible for handling any food and drink complaints.

For customers and vendors, a restaurant manager is essentially the "face" of the business. Any complaints concerning food quality, customer service or maintenance are usually addressed by him or her. Food vendors and service providers routinely deal with the manager to acknowledge receipt of goods and services, or to implement any changes to future orders. The manager often conducts inventories of current supplies and calculates the next food and supply orders accordingly.

Managers may be responsible for scheduling shifts for servers.
Managers may be responsible for scheduling shifts for servers.

There are also a number of administrative duties associated with being a restaurant manager. Employees need to be scheduled to make sure the restaurant has enough staff members available at peak times. It also falls on this person to schedule breaks and vacations in order to avoid paying overtime wages or under-scheduling good employees. Payroll may be handled by an outside source, but the manager may still have to inspect employee time cards to ensure their accuracy. He or she may also have to hire new employees periodically or, in some cases, dismiss employees who violate rules or provide substandard work.

While much of the manager's work is done behind the scenes, he may sometimes be called on to perform serving and other front-of-the-house duties if staff members are absent from work.
While much of the manager's work is done behind the scenes, he may sometimes be called on to perform serving and other front-of-the-house duties if staff members are absent from work.

Although a restaurant manager may have to dedicate many hours of his or her time to the company, there are some benefits to the job. Meals are generally provided free, since these employees rarely have time to leave the premises during working hours. Managers can also receive decent benefit packages, including health insurance, 401k retirement plans, stock options, and paid vacations. They may even share directly in the restaurant's profits, which can be quite an incentive to work harder and improve the overall operation.

In most cases, restaurant supervisors and managers work "front of house," interacting directly with waitstaff and diners.
In most cases, restaurant supervisors and managers work "front of house," interacting directly with waitstaff and diners.

While much of what a restaurant manager does is behind the scenes, he or she may be called upon to perform the duties of absent or dismissed employees. This means a good manager needs to understand each station of the business and demonstrate a level of competence at all of them. Often, a manager is promoted from within, so he or she may already be quite familiar with the kitchen, sanitation or customer service departments. Sometimes, the person will be hired from outside because of his or her administrative or accounting skills, but most of the time a restaurant's owner will promote promising employees out of the trenches and into supervisory positions. The ultimate reward for an employee's hard work and dedication is often a promotion to management.

Restaurant managers make sure all plates and flatware are properly cleaned.
Restaurant managers make sure all plates and flatware are properly cleaned.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


I haven't worked in a restaurant before but I am studying on how restaurant works. Can I please ask you to help me in identifying the financial information needs for internal and external stakeholders?


Oh silly me, disregard my previous query. I found the solution to my dilemma!A friend of mine told me about EGS and indeed, it was the remedy to my problems. True enough, with EGS, I kissed my recipe and inventory management troubles goodbye!


I'm actually a chef in our local community, and our restaurant just recently branched out. And yes, crazy as it sounds, I'm the chef and I'm also the restaurant manager. That's how passionate I am about this business! But now I need some help. I realized I can't do everything on my own! Managing inventories and recipes is driving me nuts, especially now that we are branching out. Is there any software or something of sort that I can use to solve this problem of mine? Can you guys give me advice on this? Thank you in advance!


I usually have two servers, a bartender and three chefs for about 140 covers, because I jump in and help, whether I need to pull a section or act as my servers busser. Any more staff than this and we're all bored!


I have been a restaurant manager for years, and with each different company there are new challenges. I would like to find out what the correct procedures are in my current situation, as the company I work for have got me second guessing myself.

We are a small restaurant, however we are dismally understaffed. On a busy Friday night, what would be the correct number of waiters to have to serve 140 covers? If you are this understaffed and this busy, would it be incorrect to roll up your sleeves and help your staff clear tables? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


I have been working as a waiter for about 20 years now and an opportunity to become a restaurant manager has come up.

I do love what I do and obviously I am really keen to achieve it but there are some administrative aspects which I never dealt with that I really need to be aware and I would welcome any help and suggestions from someone experienced.


I am currently a restaurant manager and one thing I have noticed that should be mentioned in this article. Most managers feel that "doing inventory and administrative work" is the majority of the managers tasks.In fact any good manager will tell you that in their ten to twelve hour shift they will only spend about two hours at most in the office.

The success to being a strong manager comes to your floor skills. Although training will give you an edge on the floor, mastering it only comes from experience. Knowing what to do when the kitchen goes down or when your short staffed or how to handle a busload (literally) of walk ins is some of the key decisions that the manager needs to know the answer to.


So you want to be a banquet manager? You think being a banquet manager is glamorous? You try dealing with cranky chefs and witchy waiters all day - and that's without the nasty customers.


@ Highlighter- I used to work as a sous chef at a fine dining establishment before going back to school. I worked my way up from 17 year old dishwasher to a sous chef in the tourist town I lived by the time I was 25. The job was a love hate job, but it was worth the experience.

In the context of a fine dining restaurant, the Executive chef is ultimately the restaurant manager, while the sous chef is the back of the house assistant restaurant manager and the front of the house manager is the other assistant to the executive chef. For a while, I thought I wanted to be an executive chef, but the job is draining, and I don't think I could deal with it now that I have a daughter. To become a top executive chef, you often drive yourself crazy in the process, and the only thing that keeps you somewhat sane is your love of the food. You eat and sleep food, and you breathe tobacco.


I have worked as a restaurant manager and it is one of the most stressful, yet most rewarding jobs. The fate of a restaurant lies in the management of a restaurant. Working as a restaurant manager can also be a great way to network, especially if the restaurant is a successful independently owned restaurant. I have met and made friends with all kinds of business owners, reps, and professionals.

Besides the connections you make, working as a restaurant manager teaches a person to be a great manager. I would be hard pressed to think of a situation with more pressure than having to turn a few hundred covers on a Friday night with a food critic in house.


Restaurant manager jobs are usually found in touristy areas. People with hospitality degrees and experience running a restaurant have the best job prospects.

A restaurant assistant manager is really the first level of restaurant management and often will go to someone with a degree, but little practical experience.

In order to be successful in restaurant manager positions, you really have to be able to work long hours on your feet and be visible to your employees and clientele.

Customer like interaction with managers and stopping by a customer’s table is often done.

In addition, a restaurant manager schedules its staff and trains them to do their job properly. Any experience working in a restaurant or hotel is a plus when seeking restaurant manager jobs.

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