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By: Dr. John T. Self

Full Service Restaurant Management

Full service restaurants have sit-down service with servers and hosts and depending on type, bar operations. They provide a great opportunity for individuals who like to see their actions quickly translate into results. It's often a very quick paced and intense environment.

Full service restaurant managers are very autonomous, with most decisions made by the individual restaurant management team. Managers are responsible for running their shifts and have specific areas of impact that in many industries would be done by specialists, such as accounting and marketing.

They are responsible for the morale and performance of their area in addition to the entire restaurant. This includes writing the employee schedules for their area of responsibility, such as servers or bartenders and for the performance evaluations of each employee in their area.

Typical career path
Start as Manager-in-Training (MIT), advance to Assistant Restaurant Manager, then to General Restaurant Manager and on to Multi-unit Management.

Manager-in-Training usually lasts between 8 weeks and 12 weeks. It encompasses hands-on training in all aspects of the restaurant from Kitchen or Back of the House (BOH) skills such as dishwashing, food prep, and all kitchen positions, to Front of House (FOH) skills such bussing tables, serving, hosting and bartending.

Other training may include sessions about customer service, profit and loss statements, budgeting, employee relations and safety at the corporate office.

Once you've graduated from MIT status, you are promoted to Assistant Manager, and are usually able to participate in bonuses. This can last from a few months to a few years, depending on the growth of your company, your performance, your General Manager, and a bit of luck. Being in the right place at the right time never hurts.

Restaurant management typically breaks its day into two parts - an opening and a closing shift. An open shift ranges from around 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. and a close shift usually starts around 4 p.m. and will go until about an hour and a half to two hours after the restaurant closes. Weekends are regularly worked and most full service restaurants are open on all holidays except Christmas and Thanksgiving. Most days off will be through the week and often not consecutively.

Best part

  • New challenges every day
  • Interacting with employees
  • Able to control own destiny
  • High energy work with on-the-fly problem solving
  • Somewhat flexible hours and days

    Worst part

    • Number of hours can be very demanding
    • Work most weekends and holidays, making family life and socializing with non-restaurant people more difficult
    • Days off often not consecutive

    Perks and benefits
    Pay almost always includes a monthly or quarterly bonus. The bonus ranges from 5% to 50% of salary depending on restaurant and personal performance.

    At the minimum, each manager typically receives anything off the menu free of charge while working. Many companies allow the manager's family comp (free) privileges at the restaurant you work in, plus all the other restaurants in your chain, regardless of the state.

About the author:  John T. Self is a lecturer at The Collins School of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona). Prior to entering academe, Dr. Self spent fifteen years in the restaurant industry. While in the corporate world, he worked for several chains including overseeing six restaurants with sales of over twenty million dollars. He has also owned three independent restaurants. While at Golden Gate University, he started the partnership with Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China and is continuing in that involvement at Cal Poly.

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