Restaurant Staff: How to Manage Restaurant Staff Efficiently

January 15, 2024

Effectively managing your restaurant staff is crucial for the success of your restaurant. Whether you’re a seasoned restaurant owner or just starting out, understanding how to manage restaurant staff can significantly impact your business’s efficiency, customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, your bottom line. 

This comprehensive guide will explore the various aspects of restaurant staff management, offering practical tips and insights to help you excel in this critical area.

Why is Managing Restaurant Staff Important?

The performance of your restaurant staff directly affects the quality of service, the dining experience of your customers, and your restaurant’s reputation and profitability. Well-managed staff are more productive, motivated, and committed to delivering exceptional service. This enhances customer satisfaction and contributes to a positive working environment, reducing turnover rates.

Diverse Roles and Responsibilities of Restaurant Staff

Typically, restaurants divide their staff into three main areas, with each area playing a unique role in the overall operation. Let's explore these categories:

1. Front-of-House (FOH)

The FOH team is your restaurant's face, often the first point of contact for customers. This team includes:

  • Host/Hostess: They're the welcoming committee, managing reservations and guiding guests to their seats.

  • Server: These pivotal team members handle orders, assist customers with menu choices, and ensure a pleasant dining experience.

  • Bartender: Not just drink mixers, bartenders often engage with customers, adding to the overall atmosphere.

  • Food Runner and Busser: Their role in serving food and maintaining cleanliness is vital for smooth operations.

  • Sommelier: In finer dining settings, they elevate the experience with expert wine pairings.

  • General and Front of House Manager: Overseeing FOH activities, they ensure everything runs like clockwork.

2. Back-of-House (BOH)

The BOH is your culinary hub, where all the food preparation magic happens. Key players include:

  • Kitchen and Executive Chef: The commanders of the kitchen, managing staff, menu creation, and food ordering.

  • Sous Chef: The right-hand to the head chef, stepping up in their absence.

  • Line Cooks and Pastry Chefs: Each has a specialty, contributing to the menu's diversity.

  • Dishwashers: Their role in keeping utensils and the kitchen clean is invaluable.

  • Expeditor: They ensure that orders are coordinated and served on time.

  • Delivery Driver: Essential for transporting goods and fulfilling food orders.

3. Management and Administrative

This group is the foundation of your restaurant's operations, focusing on the business side of things.

  • Restaurant Manager: They oversee the day-to-day activities, staff performance, guest satisfaction, and financial management.

  • Administrative Staff: Handling essential behind-the-scenes tasks, such as accounting and payroll.

Understanding these categories helps in assigning responsibilities and managing staff more effectively.

Determining Staffing Needs for a Restaurant

Determining the right number and mix of staff for your restaurant is a balancing act that requires careful consideration of various factors. Here's a guide to help you navigate through this process.

Assessing Server and Cook Requirements

The number of servers and cooks you need is a critical decision. For servers, a good rule of thumb is one server for every 4 to 6 tables. This ratio ensures that each customer receives attentive service without overburdening your staff. As for cooks, the requirement largely depends on your menu's complexity and your establishment's size. A casual seated restaurant typically requires about four kitchen staff for every 50 tables.

Staffing Based on Restaurant Type

Different types of restaurants have different staffing needs. For example:

  1. Fast-Casual Restaurants: A staff-to-guest ratio of 1:10-15, including kitchen and front-of-house personnel, is often ideal.

  2. Family Restaurants: Generally, one server per 4-6 tables works well, with kitchen staffing adjusted based on the menu.

  3. Fine Dining Restaurants: These establishments usually need a higher staff-to-guest ratio, with one server for every 2-4 tables and a larger kitchen team.

Creating a Staffing Plan

Start by listing all necessary roles and building a sample schedule. Compare the total shifts required with your current roster to identify staffing gaps. This proactive approach helps in focusing your hiring efforts where they are most needed.

Legal Considerations

Compliance with labor laws, minimum wage requirements, and employee rights is non-negotiable. This includes adhering to child labor laws and verifying the eligibility of employees to work.

Regularly Assessing and Adjusting Staff Levels

The needs of your restaurant evolve with your business and the industry's dynamic nature. Regularly evaluating your staffing levels and adjusting them in response to your restaurant's requirements and customer flow is crucial. The aim is to maintain operational efficiency while upholding the quality of service your customers expect.

Monitoring and Responding to Changes

Stay vigilant about shifts in customer patterns, menu changes, or any operational adjustments. These factors can significantly affect your staffing needs. Being proactive and responsive to these changes ensures your staff levels are always in tune with your restaurant's operational demands.

Embracing Flexibility in Staffing

Flexibility is key in the restaurant industry. Developing a staffing strategy that allows for adjustments, such as cross-training staff to handle multiple roles or having part-time staff on call during peak periods, can greatly enhance your adaptability to changing circumstances.

Ensuring Staff Satisfaction and Retention

Remember, a satisfied and well-managed staff is more likely to provide exceptional service that keeps customers returning. Regular training, fair scheduling, recognition, and growth opportunities all contribute to a positive work environment and lower turnover rates.

What Makes a Good Restaurant Staff Manager?

A competent restaurant staff manager embodies several key qualities and skills instrumental in steering the team toward excellence. These traits are not just for leading the entire team but are also critical when managing specific departments.

Exhibit Leadership

True leadership is about setting a standard for your team to aspire to. It's about being the compass during chaotic shifts and making decisive choices when faced with challenges. A good manager leads by example, cultivates a culture of mutual respect, and guides the team towards collective goals.

Master Communication

In the bustling environment of a restaurant, clear and concise communication is non-negotiable. It’s about articulating your expectations, listening to your staff’s concerns, and fostering an atmosphere where open discussions are welcomed and encouraged.

Hone Problem-Solving Skills

The ability to address issues promptly and effectively is a characteristic of a competent manager. The restaurant floor is a stage for unexpected events, and being able to think on your feet, identify the crux of a problem, and implement solutions swiftly is paramount.

Organize and Streamline

From scheduling shifts to managing inventory, the back-end operations of a restaurant demand meticulous organization. A proficient manager ensures that all these cogs in the machine function harmoniously, maintaining the restaurant's rhythm and flow.


The food industry is ever-changing, and staying ahead means being flexible and open to change. An adaptable manager always seeks innovative practices and solutions to enhance the restaurant’s operations and customer experience.

Practice Empathy

Understanding and valuing your staff’s perspectives is vital. A manager who is empathetic and approachable fosters a supportive environment. This involves addressing staff concerns with care and consideration, ensuring your team feels heard and valued.


Mastering the art of delegation is a sign of a confident leader. By entrusting your team with responsibilities, you empower them, fostering a sense of ownership and freeing yourself to focus on the broader strategic vision of the restaurant.

Mastering these key attributes will elevate your proficiency in managing your restaurant staff and contribute significantly to your establishment's growth and reputation. Remember, a harmonious and efficiently managed team is the secret ingredient to your restaurant’s success.

How to Manage Restaurant Staff

Managing your restaurant staff requires a balanced approach, combining strong leadership with empathetic personnel management. Below are key strategies and practices that can significantly improve how you manage your team.

1. Establish Clear Expectations

  • Defining Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly outline each staff member's role and responsibilities. This clarity helps in setting performance expectations and minimizes confusion about duties.

  • Setting Performance Standards: Establish clear and achievable performance standards. This includes service quality, adherence to work hours, and professional appearance.

2. Recruitment and Effective Onboarding

  • Strategic Recruitment: Aim to hire individuals whose skills, attitudes, and values align with your restaurant’s ethos. A team that resonates with your brand will deliver better service.

  • Comprehensive Onboarding: A thorough onboarding process is crucial. It ensures new hires understand their roles, your expectations, and your restaurant's culture.

3. Communication is Key

  • Open Communication Channels: Foster an environment where open and honest communication is encouraged. This can be through regular staff meetings or an open-door policy.

  • Regular Updates and Meetings: Hold routine meetings to discuss objectives, address concerns, and inform everyone about any changes or updates.

4. Employee Development

  • Training Opportunities: Invest in regular training and development sessions. This enhances your team’s skills and shows your investment in their growth.

  • Cross-Training: Encourage staff to learn different roles. This not only adds to their skillset but also ensures you have coverage during busy periods.

5. Fair Scheduling Practices

  • Transparent Scheduling: Implement a transparent and fair scheduling system. Take into account staff availability and preferences where possible.

  • Minimize Last-Minute Changes: Try to avoid sudden schedule changes. Respecting your team’s time outside work helps maintain a healthy work-life balance.

6. Performance Feedback

  • Constructive Feedback: Offer timely and constructive feedback. Acknowledge the good and provide guidance on areas of improvement.

  • Regular Performance Reviews: Conduct performance evaluations periodically. This is a time to set new goals, track progress, and discuss career development.

7. Conflict Resolution

  • Prompt Issue Addressing: Address conflicts or employee concerns swiftly and professionally. Allowing issues to fester can lead to a toxic work environment.

  • Professional Mediation: When disputes arise, mediate with the aim of finding a resolution that is fair and acceptable to all involved parties.

8. Motivation and Recognition

  • Acknowledging Good Work: Recognize and reward excellent performance. This not only boosts morale but also sets a benchmark for others.

  • Creating a Positive Environment: Strive to create an environment where your staff feel valued and appreciated. A happy team is more likely to provide exceptional service.

9. Time and Attendance Management

  • Efficient Tracking Systems: Implement a robust system for tracking time and attendance. This helps in monitoring punctuality and managing absenteeism.

  • Addressing Attendance Issues: Tackle attendance problems promptly. Consistent tardiness or absenteeism can disrupt operations and affect team morale.

10. Health and Safety Compliance

  • Regulation Adherence: Ensure your restaurant complies with all health and safety regulations. This safeguards your staff and patrons alike.

  • Regular Safety Training: Conduct routine safety drills and training. Keeping your team prepared and aware is key to maintaining a safe working environment.

Effective management of restaurant staff is about more than just overseeing operations. It’s about building a cohesive team committed to the restaurant’s success. By implementing the above mentioned strategies, you can create a productive, motivated, and professional team. Remember, your staff are essential to your restaurant, and their management deserves your utmost attention and effort.

Strategies to Retain Restaurant Staff

Retaining your restaurant staff is crucial for maintaining a consistent quality of service and avoiding unnecessary expenses related to recruitment and training. Below are some strategies that can significantly improve your employee retention rates:

Understand Their Needs and Concerns

Conduct regular surveys or have open discussions to understand what your staff values and what issues they face. This proactive approach can help you address concerns before they escalate, showing your team that their voice matters.

Prevent Burnout

Restaurant work can be demanding. Protect your employees from burnout by managing their workloads efficiently. Ensure they have adequate breaks and are not overburdened with excessive hours.

Offer Flexible Schedules

Allow your staff to have a say in their work schedules. This flexibility can lead to a better work-life balance, making your restaurant a more attractive place to work.

Recognize and Appreciate Their Efforts

Simple gestures of recognition, like naming an employee of the month or celebrating team achievements, can significantly boost morale. Appreciation goes a long way in making employees feel valued.

Provide Free or Discounted Meals

Offering free or discounted meals to your staff is not just a perk. It's a morale booster that makes your employees feel cared for and valued.

Competitive Compensation and Benefits

Offer fair wages and consider benefits like health insurance. Performance-based bonuses and opportunities for internal promotions can also be significant incentives.

Foster a Positive Work Culture

Establish an environment where respect, communication, and teamwork are the foundational pillars. A positive work culture fosters a setting where staff members are motivated to excel and remain committed to your establishment.

Clear Career Paths

Clearly outline the opportunities for advancement within your restaurant. Employees are more likely to stay when they see a future and growth opportunities in their current workplace.

Remember, the goal is to break the cycle of hiring and training continually. High retention not only saves time and money but also builds a team that understands and is committed to your business’s success. Giving your employees a clear vision of their career paths and growth opportunities within your restaurant is crucial for retention and overall success.

Leveraging Technology in Restaurant Staff Management

Incorporating technology into your management practices can significantly enhance the efficiency and productivity of your restaurant staff. Here are some innovative ways to integrate technology into your restaurant operations:

Online Reservation Systems

These systems enable customers to book tables through the internet, streamlining the reservation process. This not only saves valuable time for your managers, who would otherwise be taking bookings over the phone, but also helps in forecasting customer volumes and preparing your staff accordingly.

Digital Menu Systems

Tabletop tablets or digital menu boards allow for real-time menu updates without the need for costly printouts. They offer flexibility in changing menu items based on the seasonal availability of ingredients or introducing new dishes, ensuring your restaurant stays current and competitive.

Handheld POS Systems

Portable POS systems empower your waitstaff to process orders and payments right at the customer's table, enhancing service speed and efficiency. This integration minimizes delays and congestion at the cash register, facilitating a smoother dining experience for your patrons.

Inventory Management Systems

These systems precisely track ingredient usage and wastage, aiding in effectively controlling food costs. You gain insights into popular items and those that don’t resonate well with your clientele, enabling informed decision-making regarding menu changes.

CRM Systems and Loyalty Programs

CRM platforms log detailed customer data, such as order history and preferences, which can be leveraged for targeted marketing campaigns and personalized promotions. Incorporating loyalty programs encourages repeat business, turning occasional diners into loyal patrons.

Labor Management Software

This software offers comprehensive solutions for tracking employee hours, assessing performance, and optimizing schedules and wages. It's designed to forecast staffing needs based on expected customer volumes, ensuring you're never understaffed or overstaffed.

Food Delivery Management Systems

In today's era, where takeout and delivery orders are as crucial as dine-in, integrating a food delivery management system into your POS ensures efficient handling of a high volume of off-premise orders.


Managing restaurant staff is a dynamic and ongoing process. It requires understanding the diverse roles within your team, fostering a positive work environment, investing in training and development, leveraging technology, and creating a culture of excellence. By focusing on these areas, you can ensure that your restaurant operates smoothly, your staff feels valued and motivated, and your customers enjoy an exceptional dining experience. Remember, the success of your restaurant is directly tied to the performance and satisfaction of your staff. By investing in them, you’re investing in the future of your business.

Embrace the future of restaurant management today. Don't let the complexities of staff management hold you back. Book a Free Demo/Consultation with Chowbus POS, and discover how our all-in-one restaurant technology solution can elevate your operational efficiency and drive revenue growth!

Frequently Asked Questions About Restaurant Staff

In this FAQ section, we will address common inquiries related to restaurant staff, including their roles and responsibilities, challenges in management, training frequency, essential hiring qualities, and effective motivation methods. Explore the answers to these questions to enhance your understanding of restaurant staff dynamics.

What is Called a Staff in Restaurant?

In a restaurant, a "staff" refers to the collective group of employees working together to ensure smooth operations. This includes chefs, servers, bartenders, and managers.

What are Some Common Challenges in Managing Restaurant Staff, and How Can I Overcome Them?

Challenges include high turnover rates, scheduling conflicts, and communication issues. Overcoming these requires a combination of strategic planning, open and effective communication, and the use of technology for streamlined operations.

How Often Should I Train My Restaurant Staff?

Regular training sessions are crucial. These should not only cover the basics of service but also include updates on menu changes, POS system usage, and customer service best practices.

What are the Key Qualities to Look for When Hiring Restaurant Staff?

Look for candidates who are not only skilled but also possess qualities like good communication, teamwork, adaptability, and a customer-oriented mindset.

How Can I Motivate My Restaurant Staff?

Recognition and rewards for good performance, constructive feedback, and creating a positive work environment are all effective ways to motivate your staff. Additionally, providing opportunities for growth and development can also significantly boost morale.

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