April 18

Is a Restaurant Cover Letter Necessary?

Is Your Resume Getting Overlooked? Here’s Why Restaurant Cover Letters Help and How to Write One

When I started working in the food and drink industry, a restaurant cover letter wasn’t expected. Of course, we didn’t have sites like Poached yet — you either risked your life on Craigslist, got a job through a friend, or just walked around slinging freshly printed resumes.

As the typical hiring process has moved online, cover letters have become much more critical—and many employers prefer to see one.

Still, a good mix of people feel the same about writing as they do about teeth-pulling. So it’s hard to take the added step of crafting a cover letter, especially if you’re unsure it’s even necessary.

Adding a tailored paragraph or two to accompany your resume is a fantastic way to ensure the hiring manager gets a glimpse of the human behind the screen.

So if you don’t write cover letters, here are a few reasons they make a difference and what’s expected from a restaurant cover letter.

5 Reasons Restaurant Cover Letters Are Necessary

  1. Displays Professionalism

Employers like to see cover letters because they show you’re serious about the job. Employers can expect a few no-call, no-show interviews during the hiring process—but they’re never appreciated.

Submitting a cover letter shows you’re genuinely interested and not just applying at random.

Some employers only reach out to applications that contain a cover letter because it works as a precautionary step to ensure their time will be well-spent.

  1. Contextualizes Your Application

Cover letters are a great way to contextualize your application. You can explain why you’re applying for the job, why you think you’d be a good fit and anything else you want to convey.

For instance, maybe you’ve been following the chef’s career for a long time and would love to work alongside them. Or you frequently visit the restaurant and feel you’d fit in with the staff and work environment.

Whatever it is, the cover letter is the place to explain it and show why you’re interested in the job.

  1. Creates an Opportunity for Clarification

Kind of riffing on the previous reason, cover letters are also the ideal place to clarify any odd items in your resume.

If you have some employment gaps, short stints working for a few places, or experience that doesn’t align with the job you’re applying for, you can connect the dots in the cover letter.

This way, the employer knows your story and can decide whether they should give you a shot in an interview.

  1. Puts Voice Behind the Resume

Resumes are great for showing your work history and skills but are not the best for showing who YOU are beyond your experience.

When you write, your personality can come through—this is called voice.

Adding a cover letter gives the employer a glimpse at who you are and helps put a pinch of personality behind the digital resume you submitted.

It might just be what gets your foot in the door if your experience isn’t up to expectation.

  1. Covers Your Bases

No one will intentionally dismiss your application because you included a cover letter, but some employers specifically discard applications that don’t have one!

It’s in your best interest to include a cover letter. It covers all your bases and makes your application look more legit and professional.

If you’re applying for many jobs and feel like it’s too time-consuming, you can always write one original cover letter and then edit it to tailor it to each job.

How To Write a Restaurant Cover Letter

If you look up “how to write a cover letter” or “Cover letter for XYZ” online, you’ll find a ton of examples. What I don’t like about them is that they’re usually much longer than necessary and carry a very formal voice.

Unless you’re applying for a director or management position—you can keep the cover letter short and sweet and be more relaxed.

Start by describing what caught your attention about the position and why you are applying.

Then, touch on how your experience and qualifications they see in your resume have prepared you to be a great fit for consideration in this position (HINT: it helps to draw on a few keywords mentioned in the job description).

Lastly, ask for the opportunity to discuss this position and your skills further.

Example of an Adequate Restaurant Cover Letter:


I’ve been a long-time customer of (company name) and have always wanted to join your team if the opportunity presented itself—which is why I’m so excited to submit my application today.

In my five years of experience as a server, I’ve developed a strong sense of urgency, attention to detail, and pride in my work that I know will help me do a great job in this role.

As your job description requires, my availability is open, and I’m very familiar with NCR and Toast POS systems. I’m excited about the opportunity to cross-train in the bar. I have two years of experience working catering jobs as a bartender, which could give me a leg up in training.

I look forward to setting up an interview to speak more about my qualifications and this opportunity.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Nothing fancy, just a genuine and casual cover letter—coming in at a painless 141 words.

I touch on a few specific details from the job description, relating them to my skills and experience — which shows I read the description and connected the dots of how my experience will help me in the role.

Employers are primarily looking to see if you took the time to write the cover letter—it’s considerate, shows interest, and decreases the chances that you will ghost them at the interview.

While I recommend keeping the cover letter process casual—editing and proofing go a long way. Don’t just speed through the process. Be intentional about it, but be yourself too.

Also, if you’ve recently sent off some applications without a cover letter on Poached, you can update your application with a cover letter anytime! Even after submitting your resume.

Just open your Applications panel in the dashboard, open the application you want to add a cover letter to, and select “Update Cover letter.” This is an excellent option if you find a typo—or, god forbid—accidentally use the wrong cover letter.

So now that you know how a restaurant cover letter can help you and that they’re nothing to sweat about—get out there and start submitting some cover letters!


About the author

Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.

About the author

Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.