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Restaurant Manager

Restaurant Manager

Education and Training: Minimum—high school diploma; college degree preferred

Salary: Median—$41,490 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Restaurant managers, or general managers, keep their restaurants operating at a profit. To make a profit a restaurant must offer food, drinks, and service at prices the public is willing to pay. All restaurant activities are the manager's responsibility.

In some small restaurants the managers are also the owners and handle the business end of the operation. They buy food and beverages, advertise, and hire staff. They may also greet guests and seat them, serve as cashier, and even cook. This is especially typical of small, family-run restaurants.

In large restaurants managers' work is mainly administrative. While the executive chef is usually responsible for food preparation, the restaurant manager directs and coordinates the work of the rest of the staff. In certain restaurants, particularly those in hotels, managers may deal mainly with department heads. Nevertheless, restaurant managers must have a thorough knowledge of food service. They must also understand accounting, budgeting, credit policies, and banking methods.

Managers are responsible for resolving engineering problems as well. Equipment used for cooking, lighting, and ventilation is expensive. Managers must know about the cost, installation, and maintenance of such equipment.

Restaurant managers study community interests to devise special advertising. For example, a restaurant manager in a college town may make a special appeal to college students by decorating the establishment with pennants and pictures of the school's sports teams.

Education and Training Requirements

A high school diploma is necessary for anyone applying for a job as a restaurant manager; however, a college education including work in business administration is extremely useful. More and more employers are seeking college graduates who have completed programs in restaurant management or taken courses in hotel and restaurant administration. Restaurant chains often sponsor executive apprenticeship programs for future managers. In addition, aspiring restaurant managers may gain valuable practical experience by working in other restaurant jobs.

Restaurant managers must be skillful communicators and have supervisory ability. They should enjoy working with others. They also should have a good sense of taste, touch, and smell.

Getting the Job

Interested individuals should apply for acceptance in a restaurant manager trainee program. Large chains usually require prospective managers to serve in some other capacity—that of food and beverage manager, accountant, or sales manager, for instance—before becoming a general manager.

College placement offices, private employment agencies, Internet job sites, and newspaper want ads may offer leads on restaurant manager positions. Candidates who already have managerial experience should apply directly to the restaurants in which they would like to work.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Many managers advance by moving from small restaurants to larger ones. Larger restaurants generally offer greater challenges and better pay. Restaurant chain managers may advance to the position of regional manager or executive manager in the chain's central office. Some managers open their own restaurants.

The growth in the restaurant industry is expected to be about as fast as the average through the year 2014. Along with the high demand for managers at new restaurants, some openings will occur as replacements are needed for managers who retire. Candidates will face stiff competition for these jobs. Job opportunities will be greater for salaried managers working for national chains than for self-employed managers.

Working Conditions

The work that restaurant managers do is both physically and mentally demanding. They are on their feet much of the time. Managers must work well under pressure and exercise tact and patience when dealing with employees and customers. Restaurant managers typically work forty to forty-eight hours a week. However, because restaurants serve the public and are open on weekends and at night, many managers work longer, irregular hours.

Where to Go for More Information

The International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education
2810 N. Parham Rd., Ste. 230
Richmond, VA 23294
(804) 346-4800
http://www.chrie.org/

International Food Service Executives Association
2609 Surfwood Dr.
Las Vegas, NV 89128
(702) 838-8821
http://www.ifsea.org/

National Restaurant Association
1200 Seventeenth St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 331-5900
http://www.restaurant.org/

Earnings and Benefits

A manager's salary depends on the size, location, and type of restaurant, and on the scope of the manager's responsibilities. Large restaurants in metropolitan areas usually offer the highest pay. Education and management experience also are important factors in determining salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, restaurant managers earned a median salary of $41,490 per year in 2004. Many managers receive bonuses ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 per year. Managers who work for large restaurants can expect paid vacations, health insurance, retirement benefits, and the opportunity for yearly bonuses based on good performance. Most managers receive free meals when they are at work.

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