Food service managers are responsible for the daily operation of restaurants or other establishments that prepare and serve food and beverages.
What they do
Food service managers direct staff to ensure that customers are satisfied with their dining experience, and they manage the business to ensure that it is profitable.
They typically do the following:
- Hire, train, oversee, and sometimes fire employees
- Order food and beverages, equipment, and supplies
- Oversee food preparation, portion sizes, and the overall presentation of food
- Inspect supplies, equipment, and work areas
- Ensure that employees comply with health and food safety standards
- Address complaints regarding food quality or service
- Schedule staff hours and assign duties
- Manage budgets and payroll records
- Establish standards for personnel performance and customer service
Managers coordinate activities of the kitchen and dining room staff to ensure that customers are served properly and in a timely manner. They oversee orders in the kitchen, and, if needed, they work with the chef to remedy any delays in service.
Food service managers are responsible for all functions of the business related to employees. For example, most managers interview, hire, train, oversee, appraise, discipline, and sometimes fire employees. Managers also schedule work hours, making sure that enough workers are present to cover each shift. During busy periods, they may expedite service by helping to serve customers, processing payments, or cleaning tables.
Managers also arrange for cleaning and maintenance services for the equipment and facility in order to comply with health and sanitary regulations. For example, they may arrange for trash removal, pest control, and heavy cleaning when the dining room and kitchen are not in use.
Most managers prepare the payroll and manage employee records. They also may review or complete paperwork related to licensing, taxes and wages, and unemployment compensation. Although they sometimes assign these tasks to an assistant manager or a bookkeeper, most managers are responsible for the accuracy of business records.
Some managers add up the cash and charge slips and secure them in a safe place. They also may check that ovens, grills, and other equipment are properly cleaned and secured, and that the establishment is locked at the close of business.
Full-service restaurants (those with table service) may have a management team that includes a general manager, one or more assistant managers, and an executive chef.
Many food service managers work long shifts, and the job is often hectic. Dealing with dissatisfied customers can sometimes be stressful.
How to become a Food Service Manager
Most applicants qualify with a high school diploma and several years of work experience in the food service industry as a cook, waiter or waitress, or counter attendant. Some applicants have received additional training at a community college, technical or vocational school, culinary school, or 4-year college.
Although a bachelor’s degree is not required, some postsecondary education is increasingly preferred for many manager positions, especially at upscale restaurants and hotels. Some food service companies, hotels, and restaurant chains recruit management trainees from college hospitality or food service management programs. These programs may require the participants to work in internships and to have food-industry–related experiences in order to graduate.
Many colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs in restaurant and hospitality management or institutional food service management. In addition, numerous community colleges, technical institutes, and other institutions offer associate degree programs in the field. Some culinary schools offer programs in restaurant management with courses designed for those who want to start and run their own restaurant.
Most programs provide instruction in nutrition, sanitation, and food preparation, as well as courses in accounting, business law, and management. Some programs combine classroom and practical study with internships.
The median annual wage for food service managers was $55,320 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,210, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $93,040.
Employment of food service managers is projected to grow 1 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.
Food service managers will be needed to oversee food preparation and service as people continue to dine out, purchase takeout meals, and have food delivered to their homes or workplaces.
Similar Job Titles
Banquet Manager, Catering Manager, Food and Beverage Director, Food and Beverage Manager, Food Service Director, Food Service Manager, Food Service Supervisor, Kitchen Manager, Restaurant General Manager, Restaurant Manager
General and Operations Manager, Lodging Manager, Chef and Head Cook, First-Line Supervisor of Helpers/Laborers/Material Movers, First-Line Supervisor of Transportation and Material-Moving Machine and Vehicle Operator
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- American Culinary Federation
- Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals
- International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education
- National Association for Catering and Events
- National Restaurant Association
- National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
Magazines and Publications
Whether inspecting a restaurant’s place settings, or crunching the numbers in the back office, food service managers find their passion in keeping restaurant and food service operations smooth and profitable. As the head of sometimes large and diverse teams, these managers coordinate staff, schedule their hours, order and store supplies, and oversee food production. And when it comes to meeting health and safety standards, the buck stops with food service managers. All this while they maintain a balanced budget. To keep so many plates spinning, managers must be detail-oriented leaders with the stamina to stay organized even when the pace is fast and doesn’t let up. In food service— communication and problem-solving skills are essential— since customers’ experiences rely on them. Dealing with dissatisfied customers is part of the territory, and can be challenging. Food service managers work full time in restaurants from fast-food to fine dining, and depending on the establishment, evening, weekend, and holiday work can be common. Managers of food service in institutions such as schools, factories or office buildings, usually work traditional hours. Most managers work their way up from entry-level food service positions. A bachelor’s degree is not required, but some postsecondary education is increasingly preferred. When customers leave their dining experience satisfied, you can be sure a capable food service manager set the scene to make it possible.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org