What Does a Food Service Manager Do?
The best food service managers see the hectic pace and surprises of restaurant life as a challenge.
Also called restaurant managers and sometimes general managers, these administrators keep the dining room running smoothly — no matter what happens. (And something always happens.)
These managers are needed in hotel dining establishments, restaurants, cafes and fast-food chains. The backdrop may change, but the skills needed to succeed are similar.
Good restaurant managers must be able to switch gears quickly, handling tricky customer service situations one minute and crunching the numbers in the back office the next. The pace is quick, but the payoff is worth it. This is a well-paying career with the promise of good camaraderie and satisfaction.
It’s also one of the few careers that allows an entry-level worker to eventually make their way to the top rung. To do that, you will need solid experience and excellent training. Keep reading to learn more.
$ 40,000 - $ 98,000
- Ensure quality of food and service
- Train and manage front-of-the-house employees
- Establish and maintain standards for presentation, behavior and sanitation
- Manage worker schedules and assignments
- Respond to customer complaints
- Resolve in-house disagreements
- Manage budget and payroll
- Focus on profitability
How To Become a Food Service Manager: FAQs
Food service manager requirements: What steps should I take?
First, earn your high school diploma or equivalent.
Next, you’ll benefit from specialized training, such as earning a two-year associate degree in hospitality or food service management. To reach the top tier of finer restaurants, more formal culinary education may be necessary.
Food service management programs typically cover customer service, business management and administration, marketing, bookkeeping, food planning and preparation, nutrition and restaurant safety.
The best programs often include internships, management trainee programs or other work agreements that incorporate practical, hands-on experience. No matter which path is available to you, don’t underestimate the value of on-the-job experience. Even part-time work alongside coursework can make a difference.
For example, a food service manager who has worked in different roles — including as a waiter, line cook, kitchen manager or chef — will better understand how the front and the back of the house function and is likely to be a better overall leader than someone who hasn’t had that variety of experiences.
Certification isn’t mandatory but it’s recommended. A common certification is the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP), a designation from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). Another is the Food Protection Manager Certification (FPMC), a designation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Plus, certifications are an opportunity to keep learning.
There’s room to grow in this line of work. You can move around one restaurant or chain to gain new experiences, move up to a better quality restaurant or you can leverage your skills to run your own restaurant one day.
Are there any other qualifications to consider?
Food service managers will need a driver’s license because most establishments require that managers work long hours, including nights and weekends.
Is there a demand for restaurant managers?
Yes. Food service manager employment is expected to grow 10% from 2021 to 2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s much faster than typical job growth and amounts to about 45,000 openings each year over the decade.
Much of that growth is recovery from COVID-19, which pushed many restaurant workers to consider other professions. That creates opportunity for young people or those who have decided they belong in the restaurant world.
What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?
Successful food service managers tend to share certain traits:
- Highly organized
- Excellent communication skills
- Work well under pressure
- Good leadership and motivational skills
- Strong financial skills
- Attention to detail
- Able to deal with many different personality types (both customers and staff)