How to Become a Restaurant Manager: Your Guide to Success

December 5, 2023

How to become a restaurant manager is a question many aspiring culinary leaders often ask. This role is pivotal to the success of any dining establishment, requiring a unique blend of skills, experience, and passion. 

This comprehensive guide will dive deep into the pathways and practices that can propel you to this coveted leadership position. Whether you’re already in the restaurant business or aspiring to break into it, this blog will illuminate the steps you need to take, the roles you’ll encounter, and the skills you must hone to excel as a restaurant manager.

How to Become a Restaurant Manager

Becoming a restaurant manager is a journey with multiple routes, each suited to different career aspirations and educational backgrounds. Let's explore some of the most effective ways to reach this goal:

1. Pursuing College Education

A significant first step towards a managerial role in a restaurant is obtaining a relevant college degree. Programs in hospitality management, business administration, or culinary arts are particularly beneficial. These courses not only impart theoretical knowledge but also include practical training, giving you a taste of what managing a restaurant entails. Key subjects like customer relations, financial oversight, and team leadership are integral parts of these programs, laying a solid foundation for a managerial career.

2. Apprenticeship Opportunities

For those who favor a hands-on approach to learning, apprenticeships in hospitality management can be an excellent path. This method combines practical experience in a restaurant setting with academic learning. As an apprentice, you’ll work closely with seasoned professionals, gaining insights into every facet of restaurant operations, from kitchen dynamics to customer service. This path is perfect for those eager to learn on the job and looking for an earn-while-you-learn opportunity.

3. Climbing the Ladder from Within

Starting at the grassroots level in roles like a server or a kitchen assistant and gradually working your way up is a time-honored approach to becoming a restaurant manager. This path allows you to gain a deep and intimate understanding of the restaurant's workings. With time and experience, you can take on more responsibilities and move into supervisory positions. This approach demands commitment and a keenness to learn and grow within the industry.

4. Graduate Training Schemes

For those with a degree, graduate training programs in restaurants or hospitality businesses present a direct and accelerated route to management roles. These schemes are tailored to quickly prepare graduates for leadership positions through structured training and exposure to various aspects of the business. This route is particularly suited for individuals with strong academic backgrounds who aim to advance in their careers rapidly.

Different Manager Positions in a Restaurant

A successful restaurant relies on the coordinated efforts of multiple managers, each specializing in different aspects of the business. Understanding these roles, including the dynamics between front of house vs back of house, is key to mastering the art of restaurant management. Here's an overview of some key managerial roles:

1. General Manager: The general manager oversees the entire restaurant operation, including both front-of-house and back-of-house functions. They are responsible for setting business objectives, managing budgets, and ensuring overall customer satisfaction. General managers also handle staff hiring and training and may engage in marketing and promotion strategies. Their role is pivotal in maintaining the restaurant's reputation and profitability.

2. Kitchen Manager (Back of House): The kitchen manager is in charge of all activities in the kitchen, including food preparation, inventory management, and ensuring compliance with health and safety standards. They supervise the kitchen staff, plan menu items, and oversee food ordering and storage. Their primary goal is to maintain high-quality food standards and efficiency in kitchen operations.

3. Front-of-House Manager: This role focuses on managing the dining area, including customer service, staff supervision, and maintaining the restaurant's ambiance. Front-of-house managers train and manage waitstaff, resolve customer complaints, and ensure a pleasant dining experience for guests. They also coordinate with the kitchen manager to ensure timely food service and may handle reservations and event planning.

4. Bar Manager: In restaurants with a bar, the bar manager oversees all aspects of the bar's operation. This includes inventory management of alcoholic beverages, creating drink menus, and ensuring compliance with liquor laws. They also train and supervise bar staff, manage bar budgets, and strive to provide an exceptional experience for guests enjoying the bar area.

By understanding these roles, aspiring restaurant managers can identify their areas of interest and expertise, paving the way for a successful career in the restaurant industry.

What Does a Restaurant Manager Do?

A restaurant manager oversees the daily operations of a restaurant, including staff management, customer service, inventory control, and financial management. They ensure the establishment runs efficiently and profitably while maintaining high standards of food and service.

Job Description and Duties

Understanding the multi-faceted role of a restaurant manager is vital for anyone considering this career path. The position involves a diverse range of tasks that cater to the smooth operation of a restaurant. Let’s delve into the core responsibilities of a restaurant manager.

Staff Management

One of the primary responsibilities of a restaurant manager is overseeing staff. This includes hiring and training a competent team, scheduling shifts, and supervising daily activities. A restaurant manager must set clear performance standards, offer constructive feedback, and effectively handle personnel issues.

Customer Service

A significant part of a restaurant manager’s role is ensuring customer satisfaction. This involves training staff to provide top-notch hospitality, resolving customer complaints, and maintaining a welcoming environment for all guests.

Budgeting and Financial Management

Financial understanding is crucial for a restaurant manager. Tasks include budget preparation, expense monitoring, and profit maximization. Effective control of inventory, food costs, and labor expenses is essential to maintain the restaurant’s financial health.

Menu Development

A restaurant manager works closely with chefs and plays a key role in menu creation and updates. This process should reflect customer preferences and market trends, with strategic pricing to boost revenue.

Operations Oversight

A restaurant manager must oversee daily operations, ensuring smooth running from opening to closing. This encompasses reservation management, food preparation, and adherence to health and safety regulations.

Marketing and Promotion

Developing marketing strategies to attract new customers and retain existing ones is another key responsibility. This includes leveraging social media, advertising, and various promotional activities to enhance the restaurant's visibility.

Vendor and Supplier Relations

Managing relationships with suppliers, negotiating contracts, and securing timely delivery of high-quality ingredients are part of a restaurant manager's duties.

Quality Control

Ensuring the consistency and quality of food is paramount. This involves implementing quality control measures and conducting regular inspections to maintain high standards.

Crisis Management

The ability to handle unexpected challenges such as equipment failures, staff shortages, or health inspections is crucial. A good restaurant manager responds to these situations with efficiency and poise.

Long-Term Planning

Finally, developing strategies for long-term business growth and adapting to changing market conditions are essential for sustained success in the restaurant industry.

Skills and Qualities of a Successful Restaurant Manager

Becoming a restaurant manager requires a mix of professional skills and personal attributes. Here’s an outline of what you need to master:

Essential Skills

  • Leadership: A key component in restaurant management is leading a team effectively. This involves motivating staff, delegating tasks appropriately, and ensuring top-notch customer service. Effective leadership also includes providing clear instructions and constructive feedback.

  • Communication: In the bustling environment of a restaurant, clear communication is vital. This skill encompasses active listening, proficiently handling feedback, and resolving conflicts, ensuring a harmonious work environment.

  • Problem-solving: The ability to swiftly tackle challenges, from unanticipated delays to customer complaints, is crucial. Managers should think on their feet and devise creative solutions to keep operations running smoothly.

  • Organizational Skills: Given the complexity of restaurant operations, being organized is non-negotiable. This includes prioritizing tasks, managing schedules, and overseeing various aspects of the restaurant efficiently.

  • Time Management: In a restaurant, every minute counts. Effective time management, task delegation, and prioritization are key to ensuring all tasks are completed timely.

  • Financial Management: Overseeing the restaurant’s financial health is a significant responsibility. This role includes understanding financial concepts, budgeting, tracking expenses, and making informed financial decisions.

  • Customer Service: The heart of a restaurant’s success lies in exceptional customer service. Managers need to ensure a positive dining experience and address customer concerns professionally.

Personal Qualities

  • Passion for Hospitality: A genuine enthusiasm for the hospitality industry and delighting customers is essential.

  • Resilience: The ability to handle stress and challenging situations calmly and professionally is crucial in a high-pressure environment.

  • Strong Work Ethic: Commitment and willingness to put in the necessary hours are key, often extending beyond standard working hours.

  • Adaptability: The ever-evolving nature of the restaurant industry requires managers to be flexible and open to changes, including new trends, technologies, and customer preferences.

  • Teamwork: Effective collaboration with staff and other stakeholders is vital in achieving common business goals.

Additional Skills and Knowledge:

1. Knowledge of Food and Beverage: Understanding the basics of menu planning, inventory control, and food safety is beneficial.

2. Marketing and Sales: Grasping these concepts can assist in attracting and retaining customers, as well as promoting the restaurant.

3. Technology Proficiency: Familiarity with industry-specific technologies, such as point-of-sale and online ordering platforms, is increasingly crucial.

Courses, Classes, and Resources

Undertaking the journey to become a restaurant manager involves exploring various educational avenues and resources. Let’s delve into the options that can equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge.

Formal Education and Certifications

  • Hospitality Management Degrees: Pursuing a degree in hospitality management from a recognized institution covers critical areas like business management, customer service, and food service operations. These programs are instrumental in building a strong foundation for a managerial role.

  • Culinary Arts Programs: Enrolling in culinary arts provides hands-on experience, crucial for understanding the core of restaurant management—the kitchen.

  • Certifications: Gaining certifications such as the Food Service Management Professional (FSMP) or Certified Restaurant Manager (CRM) can significantly boost your profile, showcasing your commitment and expertise in the field.

Online Learning Platforms

  • E-Learning Courses: Platforms like Coursera and Udemy offer specialized restaurant management and leadership courses tailored to the hospitality sector. The flexibility of online learning allows you to balance work and study.

  • LinkedIn Learning: This platform offers courses on business strategies and leadership skills essential for aspiring restaurant managers.

Workshops and Seminars

  • Industry Events: Engage in workshops and seminars hosted by organizations like the National Restaurant Association. These events offer insights into the latest trends and networking opportunities.

  • Expos and Trade Shows: Attending these events exposes you to new restaurant management and operations innovations.

Internships and On-the-Job Training

  • Practical Experience: Securing internships or entry-level roles in restaurants is crucial. These positions often provide a comprehensive view of restaurant operations.

  • In-House Training Programs: Many restaurants offer training programs for employees aiming for management roles, making this an excellent pathway for internal promotion.

Networking and Professional Groups

  • Professional Associations: Joining groups like the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) opens doors to networking, resources, and exclusive industry events.

  • Community Engagement: Participation in local hospitality groups and online forums helps you stay connected with industry peers and stay abreast of evolving trends.

Self-Study and Reading

  • Industry Literature: Books like "Restaurant Success by the Numbers" and "Setting the Table" provide valuable insights into restaurant management.

  • Keeping Informed: Regularly reading trade magazines and subscribing to online newsletters keeps you updated on the latest in the restaurant business.

You can position yourself as a skilled and knowledgeable leader by leveraging the variety of educational courses, certifications, workshops, and networking opportunities available. 

Remember, the path to successful restaurant management combines formal education, hands-on experience, and constant engagement with industry trends and peers. Embrace these opportunities, and you’ll be well on your way to a flourishing career as a restaurant manager.

Career Path and Progression

Embarking on a career in restaurant management involves clearly understanding the industry’s hierarchy and the various roles contributing to a restaurant’s success. Let’s delve into the typical progression path and the roles that pave the way to becoming a restaurant manager.

1. Entry-Level Positions:

  • Starting at the Ground Level: Your journey begins with entry-level positions like server, bartender, or kitchen staff. These roles are fundamental in understanding the daily operations of a restaurant. Here, you can hone your customer service, time management, and teamwork skills. Exhibiting strong work ethics and leadership potential in these roles can set the foundation for your ascent in the restaurant industry.

  • Assistant Manager: Stepping into an assistant manager position is a significant leap. This role offers a closer look into managerial responsibilities, including supervising staff, organizing schedules, and supporting the restaurant manager in various administrative tasks.

2. Management Roles:

  • Restaurant Manager: Reaching the restaurant manager position means you’re now at the heart of the restaurant’s operations. This role demands various skills, from managing staff and controlling inventory to budgeting and enhancing guest experiences.

  • Food and Beverage Manager: If you have a particular interest in the culinary and beverage aspects, this role oversees menu planning, procurement, and cost management, ensuring the quality and profitability of the food and drink offerings.

3. Senior Management Roles:

  • Area Manager: With experience, you might advance to overseeing multiple establishments within a chain as an area manager. This role involves broader operational responsibilities, budget management, and performance monitoring across various locations.

  • Operations Manager: This position focuses on broader strategic planning and implementation of operational efficiencies across the restaurant chain or group, requiring high organizational and leadership skills.

4. Entrepreneurship:

  • Venturing on Your Own: With ample experience and capital, many aspire to open their own restaurant. This path requires culinary and management skills, entrepreneurial spirit, and a deep understanding of the market and customer preferences.

The path to becoming a restaurant manager is multi-faceted, with each role offering unique challenges and learning opportunities. Whether you start as a server or an assistant manager, each step shapes your understanding of the industry and prepares you for managing a restaurant.

Salary and Job Outlook for Restaurant Managers in the United States (USA)

Understanding the financial and professional landscape is crucial for anyone considering a career as a restaurant manager. Let's delve into the current state of salary and job outlook in this field.

Average Salary:

Recent data indicates that the average annual salary for a restaurant manager hovers around $57,369. However, this figure is not set in stone; it fluctuates between $52,098 and $64,525, depending on several factors. Other sources like PayScale suggest a slightly lower average of around $50,672, extending from $36,000 to $65,000. Similarly, VelvetJobs notes an average of approximately $50,000, with some managers earning as much as $65,700 annually.

Remember, these figures represent averages, and actual earnings can differ based on the unique circumstances of each managerial role.

Factors Influencing Salary:

  • Location: Major cities and popular tourist destinations often offer higher salaries.

  • Experience: More seasoned managers usually command higher wages.

  • Type of Establishment: Upscale and fine dining establishments typically offer greater financial rewards than casual dining spots.

  • Education: Holding a bachelor's degree in hospitality management can be a significant advantage in salary negotiations.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for restaurant management, specifically in food service management, is projected to show minimal growth from 2022 to 2032. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that this sector will experience little to no change in employment during this period. 

Despite the limited growth, there is an expectation of approximately 39,600 job openings annually, mostly due to the need to replace workers who leave the industry. Additionally, the broader category of food preparation and serving occupations is expected to see an 11.2% increase in employment from 2021 to 2031, largely attributed to recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.


Becoming a restaurant manager is a journey that requires dedication, education, and experience. You can succeed in this rewarding career by understanding the role, acquiring the right skills, and staying committed to your professional growth. Remember that the restaurant industry thrives on passion and hard work. As a restaurant manager, you can make a lasting impact on your staff and customers.

As you embark on your journey to become a restaurant manager, remember the importance of having the right tools. Our Chowbus POS solutions are designed to grow with you, enhancing your management capabilities as you advance in your career. Imagine the ease and efficiency you’ll experience with our cutting-edge system when you step into your managerial role.

In the meantime, enrich your knowledge and prepare for success by browsing through our informative blogs. And when you’re ready to take that next big step, our team is here to provide professional consulting services. Better yet, why not try a demo? Let Chowbus POS be a part of your journey to becoming an exceptional restaurant manager.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Become a Restaurant Manager

Explore the key aspects and queries surrounding the role of a restaurant manager in our Frequently Asked Questions section.

What Does a Manager of a Restaurant Do?

A restaurant manager oversees daily operations, including staff management, customer service, and ensuring food quality. They handle administrative tasks, create work schedules, and maintain a pleasant dining environment. Ultimately, they aim to ensure the restaurant runs smoothly and delivers a positive dining experience.

Is it Good to be a Restaurant Manager?

Yes, being a Restaurant Manager can be a rewarding career choice. It offers opportunities for leadership, creativity, and the chance to create memorable dining experiences. However, it also comes with challenges like long hours and high-pressure situations. Ultimately, whether it’s good for you depends on your passion for the industry and ability to handle its demands.

What is the Difference Between Food and Beverage Manager and Restaurant Manager?

The main difference between a Food and Beverage Manager and a Restaurant Manager lies in their scope of responsibility.

A Food and Beverage Manager oversees all aspects of food and drink service in a hospitality establishment, including restaurants, bars, and banquet facilities. They manage menus, inventory, and staff and ensure a smooth operation of both food and beverage services.

On the other hand, a Restaurant Manager focuses specifically on the day-to-day operations of a restaurant. They handle tasks such as customer service, staffing, scheduling, and ensuring a pleasant dining experience for guests.

Is Restaurant Manager a Stressful Job?

Yes, Restaurant Manager can be a stressful job. The role involves juggling various responsibilities, managing staff, handling customer complaints, and ensuring smooth operations, which can lead to high-pressure situations. Effective time management and problem-solving skills are essential to handle the stress in this role.

What is Above a Restaurant Manager?

Above a restaurant manager, typically, is the position of a Restaurant General Manager or a Food Service Director. This role involves overseeing multiple restaurants or an organization's entire food service operation. They are responsible for strategic planning, higher-level financial management, and overall operational supervision, ensuring that all the restaurants under their purview maintain consistent quality, service, and profitability.

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