February 20

The 4 Types of Restaurant Managers


Running a business is hard. Running a business in the food and drink industry is even harder. As an owner it’s impossible to oversee every detail – and if you try the results are likely counter-productive. A healthy business not only has an involved owner, but strong management that can be trusted to get the day-to-day job of running a bar or restaurant done.

Here are 4 personalities that make excellent managers and why, or why not, they’d be the right fit for your business.

The Veteran

The Veteran has seen it all. He’s a seasoned lifer who is unshakeable. It doesn’t matter if it’s Friday night and the opening server has no called/no showed or if the power goes out. He’ll know exactly what to do. He’s calm, cool and a great communicator. The rest of the staff looks up to him as a leader and a mentor.

Why you should hire: Hire The Veteran when your business is well established and needs a steady hand at the wheel. If you are moving on from a former manager, The Veteran can establish herself as a leader quickly through both her reputation and her demeanor.

Why you should pass: The Veteran is good at creating consistency, but can struggle in a new business or recently refreshed concept. If you’re looking for creativity and flexibility, The Veteran’s many talents might be wasted on you.

Ask in the interview: “How do you settle conflicts between the front of the house and the kitchen?” If he’s willing to be the mediator you’re dealing with a Veteran.

The Future Business Owner

The Future Business Owner is young, eager and ready to learn. She’ll jump into any situation and try to solve it quickly. She loves opening new restaurants or changing concepts. She’ll have ideas about the menus, the staffing, the décor… everything really. She can motivate the staff and create a core team quickly.

Why you should hire: Hire The Future Business Owner when you open a new business or refresh your concept. He feeds on your willingness to take and implement his input. You’ll want someone dedicated to your business in its fragile first few months and you can count on The Future Business Owner.

Why you should pass: If you’re already an established business with existing staff and clientele, The Future Business Owner can get restless – and start rubbing people the wrong way. And remember, while this character will build your business up, he will leave when he feels ready to.

Ask in the interview: “If we’re to develop a new lunch format for this restaurant, how would you approach marketing it to the neighborhood?” If she jumps on the chance to have ownership of a project, you’ve got a Future Business Owner.

The Maître d’

The Maître d’ is everyone’s friend, but he still manages to get things done. This type of manager will be able to pull in favors from the kitchen, even when they’re slammed. He’ll also somehow convince servers to cover Saturday night shifts at the last minute. Even better, the customers will love him.

Why you should hire: You need some personality in the dining room that you’re unable or just unwilling to give. The Maître d’ will learn everyone’s name and tastes so you don’t have to.

Why you should pass: You need things organized and predictable. The Maître d’ is great with people, but often will leave important tasks to the last minute.

Ask in the interview: “How would you organize a weekend evening with 3 big top reservations so we can optimize the number of walk-ins?” If the answer has more to do with making people comfortable with the wait than with figuring out seating charts you’re looking at The Maître d’.

The Delegator

The Delegator (Delegatin’ the Countryside!) is great at managing a lot of projects at once. If your business has multiple services a day, catering, events and sells other products you should look for The Delegator. She thrives on organizing others and being as productive as possible. She’s great at making sure every detail gets done – even if she passes the job off to someone else. Even better, The Delegator will share successes with the team, but own the failures. She knows that’s the best way to retain a happy staff.

Why you should hire: Your business has grown beyond being a restaurant or a bar. If you have multiple concepts, properties, book deals and media events, someone needs to keep track of all of it. No one person can run an empire, so you need a manager who knows how to collaborate and inspire others.

Why you should pass: You need someone to jump in and get their hands dirty. Delegators aren’t excited to do dishes or bus tables – they work with the big picture and are more comfortable thinking about improving systems.

Ask in the interview: “If we scheduled a dinner at the James Beard House, how would you make sure it was successful?” If they talk about partnerships, media and marketing strategy, you’re about to hire a Delegator.

About the author

Jack Hott

Some say Jack Hott was born in a restaurant. Others say he wasn’t born at all but discovered behind a Hobart stand mixer. Wherever he comes from, he’s made a career out of only being a good enough employee to skate by in the restaurant industry since the mid-90s. Jack Hott, if that’s even his real name, has gotten lost in walk-ins, stared into the abyss of pizza ovens, spilled red wine on white linen tablecloths, and shaken cocktails he was supposed to stir. If you can find him on social media, for your own safety, please do not follow him.


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