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A Day in the Life: Restaurant Manager

Restaurant managers put in long hours that can extend beyond the time spent onsite in the restaurant. They are responsible for managing the staff and making sure all restaurant operations run smoothly. Here’s an example of what a day on the job could look like for a restaurant manager at a small restaurant.

9:00 a.m.: Wake up, have breakfast, coffee, and gear up for the day. Check phone messages to see if any of the wait staff have called in sick or if there are any updates on some deliveries we’re expecting at the restaurant today. Also check online for the status of today’s reservations to make sure we have enough staff to cover the tables. I’ll call in extra help if needed. We usually have staff on call for such occasions. Today’s going to be a particularly long day because I have some administrative work to take care of. Normally I don’t report onsite to work until later in the afternoon. We serve only dinner at this restaurant, but gearing up for the night takes preparation.

10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.: I’m in my office at the restaurant, reviewing some monthly sales reports that have come in. I’ll also start working on the weekly report that includes updates about the staff, food control, as well as the restaurant’s sales levels and profitability. I’m also handling phone calls and e-mails while doing this work – multitasking is a critical component of this job.

12:00–2:00 p.m.: Meeting with senior management and owners to discuss the restaurant’s annual budget, marketing plan, and planned menus.

2:00–3:00 p.m.: Working in the front of the restaurant, overseeing training of several new staff members. The senior wait staff handles the training, and I am there to supervise everyone and make sure instructions are based on the restaurant’s standards. I have my phone with me and take calls as needed.

3:00–4:00 p.m.: Back in my office, I review e-mails and check phone messages. I need to prepare some contracts for suppliers we recently agreed to work with. I also have to review some payroll reports from our accountant.

4:00–5:00 p.m.: Time to work at the front of the restaurant again. I make sure I’m presentable. The uniform for work, at least for me, is a suit. If I’ve been wearing it all day, like I have today for the meetings with the senior managers, it might be wrinkled. I keep an extra suit and a couple of extra shirts and ties in my office, because you never know what can happen. I now work with the staff to prep for the night. I’ll oversee the bartender, who is stocking the bar with ice, cutting up fruit, and making sure there is a full supply of clean glasses, napkins, coasters, etc. I make sure the chef is stocked with everything she needs for the night and that the menu specials are set. I also continue to check the phone and e-mails for reservations.

5:00 p.m.: We open the doors to our first guests. The host seats them, the busboys bring them water and bread, and then the waiters come around to take their orders. We aren’t booked up tonight so we are still taking reservations. We are also taking walk-ins, but that can change at any given moment. If a large group makes a reservation, we’ll block tables for them and walk-ins will have to wait.

6:30 p.m.: Things have picked up and the restaurant is getting crowded. I check the computer at the host’s station and see that more reservations have come in. We start a list of the walk-ins and direct them to the bar area, where they can have a drink while they wait for a table to become available.

7:00 p.m.:  We have a piano in the bar area and schedule live entertainment on certain nights of the week. Tonight we have a piano and acoustic guitar duo. They set up quickly and will play for about 2 hours, with a short break in between.

7:00–9:00 p.m.: This is the busiest time of the evening and it’s when the pressure is really on. Everything needs to go like clockwork – people seated as quickly as possible, orders taken and food delivered in reasonable time, and every staff member on their best behavior. I’m there to make sure it all syncs up nicely. I’ll help the host by greeting people and seating them. I walk around the restaurant to check on supplies, listen to conversations at tables, oversee the wait staff, and check in with the kitchen staff. I’ll troubleshoot any problems, including customers’ complaints.

9:00–10:00 p.m.: The crowd starts to thin and things get calmer. I take this opportunity to walk around the restaurant again, greet customers, and ask them how everything was. Hopefully they enjoyed their meal and had a positive experience, but that’s not always the case. If someone had a problem with their waiter or meal, it’s my job to handle it as diplomatically and professionally as possible. People post their reviews online everywhere now, and the last thing we need is negative comments. Problems have to be tackled immediately before the customer leaves the restaurant. Word of mouth is huge in the restaurant business – we want people telling their friends and family to eat here.

10:00–11:00 p.m.: We lock the doors at 10. Guests can stay to finish their meals but no new guests are allowed in.

11:00 p.m.–12:30 a.m.: We let the last guests out, relock the front doors, and then start cleaning up the restaurant and preparing to shut down for the night. All of the tables are cleared and everything is cleaned. The bar is also cleaned and the bartender locks up all of the liquor. I’ll check e-mail and phone messages one last time to see what’s in store for tomorrow. I’m the last one to leave the restaurant and I make sure the alarm system is set and all of the doors are locked before I head home for the night.


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