Similar Titles

Restaurant Manager, Food and Beverage Manager, Dining Services Manager, Hospitality Manager, Catering Manager, Kitchen Manager, Banquet Manager, Café Manager, Food Operations Manager, Hotel Restaurant Manager, Food Expeditor, Banquet and Catering Director

Job Description

Imagine you’re a customer in a restaurant. You pick up the menu, tell the server what you’d like, and a few minutes later your meal magically appears! Except there are a million other behind-the-scenes steps involved that customers rarely get to see (and some of which happen long before we even walk in the door)! Food Service Managers are in charge of managing those hidden steps in eating establishments where lots of food is being served, such as restaurants and cafeterias. 

Their jobs are multifaceted and cover several duties such as hiring staff, ensuring ingredients and supplies are in stock, inspecting food preparation, and managing budgets. Like conductors directing an orchestra’s performance, Food Service Managers keep operations running smoothly and ensure that customers enjoy their meals…even if those customers have no clue how much work was involved! 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Helping eating establishments stay in business 
  • Contributing to the economy by keeping restaurants open and employees working
  • Facilitating a pleasant dining experience for hungry patrons
  • Learning how restaurants function behind-the-scenes
2021 Employment
2031 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • Food Service Managers work at least full-time (with overtime common) and may work late nights, early mornings, weekends, and holidays. 

Typical Duties

  • Interview, hire, and help train staff
  • Establish employee working schedules and duties 
  • Perform or delegate frontline supervisor duties 
  • Set and enforce restaurant policies (and align them with state or federal regulations, as necessary)
  • Keep track of food and beverage inventory
  • Order food and other inventory before it runs out
  • Check expiration dates on perishable items
  • Connect with local vendors to source fresh ingredients 
  • Oversee food and beverage preparation processes
  • Manage and coordinate workflows so that customers have a seamless, pleasant dining experience
  • Inspect kitchen areas and practices to ensure safety and compliance with health codes
  • Inspect kitchen equipment, cookware, bakeware, cooking tools, and utensils
  • Order replacement items for worn or damaged items
  • Manage supply budgets and employee payroll
  • Address problems as they arise, such as staff shortages, lack of ingredients, upset customers, or other issues 
  • Conduct quality assurance checks on food items to ensure freshness and taste
  • Provide backup assistance where needed, such as helping with orders, processing payments, or bussing tables
  • Follow daily prep and cleaning checklists so that all tasks are completed
  • Check to ensure trash is properly disposed of in a timely manner
  • Schedule routine pest control services for when the restaurant is empty 
  • Keep tabs on the cash registers and send runners to the bank to make deposits and get change to keep in the till  

Additional Responsibilities

  • Discuss daily specials, discounts, and other promotional ideas
  • Review daily cash and credit card receipts, ensure tips are distributed in accordance with policy, and keep all paperwork stored safely 
  • Perform or delegate routine administrative and accounting tasks related to restaurant licensing, state and federal taxes, employee wages, etc.
  • Solicit customer feedback and suggest improvements to owners 
  • Oversee general building management, safety, and security (to include locking up the building after-hours and policing parking areas)
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Collaboration
  • Compliance-oriented 
  • Customer service-oriented
  • Enthusiasm
  • Goal setting
  • Initiative
  • Leadership
  • Organized
  • Positive attitude
  • Problem-solving
  • Quality assurance
  • Relationship building
  • Resilience
  • Resourcefulness 
  • Stamina
  • Stress tolerance
  • Strong communication skills 
  • Teamwork
  • Time management

Technical Skills

Different Types of Organizations
  • Airports
  • Government and military agencies
  • Hotels, resorts, and conference centers
  • Large companies 
  • Restaurants and fast-food franchises
  • School and university cafeterias 
  • Special food services
Expectations and Sacrifices

Food Service Managers have hectic jobs and bear a lot of responsibility for the health and safety of customers. People come into an eating establishment hungry and ready to have an enjoyable meal, served in a timely manner. They also expect to not get sick from anything they eat!

Food Service Managers have to ensure strict observance and compliance with multiple food preparation laws and regulations. Their job involves planning ahead, long before customers walk in, to make sure food ingredients are fresh and in stock, the kitchen is clean and prepared, and the cooks and other staff are trained and ready to go. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! 

In addition, they must foster workplace safety to keep staff protected against mishaps from sharp blades, hot stoves, swinging doors, and angry patrons. Then there is a litany of administrative and accounting tasks which should be handled with diligence so everyone is paid (including the IRS) and the establishment turns a profit.

Current Trends

Restaurants can suffer greatly due to economic downturns or spikes in illnesses related to contagious germs spreading around. To the extent possible, Food Service Managers must plan ahead for such occasions. The Covid pandemic dramatically increased the number of restaurants willing to deliver food through their own drivers or third-parties service providers like Uber Eats and DoorDash. This also helped accelerate the rise of restaurant apps for ordering online. 

Many eating establishments have adjusted their menus, scaled back staff, and found workarounds that allowed them to stay in business as they weather storms. In some cases, restaurants have sought to save money by delegating Food Service Manager duties to other kitchen personnel such as chefs or head cooks. Still, the job growth outlook for this career field is projected to be 10%, which is very strong compared to the average of all occupations.

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

In their younger days, future Food Service Managers may have been highly organized and able to multitask with relative ease. They might also have enjoyed working with food, and helping out in the family kitchen. They have a strong sense of responsibility and a wide assortment of both hard and soft skills, which they could have developed through extracurricular activities in school. 

Education and Training Needed
Things to look for in an University
  • Think about which level of education you want—a college certificate, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, a third-party certification, or training from a culinary school  
  • If going to college, decide if you’ll attend a traditional on-campus program, online, or hybrid (a mix of both)
  • Food Service Managers need an abundance of real-world practical experience to be considered for a job, so look for college programs that offer internships
  • Consider and compare costs of tuition, room and board, and scholarship opportunities
  • Look into student financial aid from the government to see what you qualify for
Things to do in High School and College
  • In high school, future Food Service Managers should stack their plates with plenty of business, marketing, math, and cooking classes
  • Volunteer for school activities where you can practice soft skills, including verbal communication skills, leadership, teamwork, and project management 
  • In college, whatever your major is, make sure it is rounded out to develop management skills; business, marketing, and sales acumen; familiarity with supply chain and vendors; and, of course, food preparation-related laws and guidelines
  • Knock out a college internship where you can gain practical experience. If your program doesn’t offer one (or you don’t plan on going to college), volunteer or apply to part-time jobs where you can get experience working in a fast-paced food service environment 
  • Ask working Food Service Managers in your area if you can do an informational interview or shadow them for a day to learn about their work
  • If you decide not to get a college degree, consider doing a college certificate, a certification from a food-related organization, or some self-study ad hoc online courses (like UniversalClass’s Restaurant Management 101) to help bolster your resume 
  • Keep a draft resume that you can add to as you gain experience
Typical Roadmap
Food Service Gladeo Roadmap
How to Land your 1st job
  • Food Service Managers usually work their way up from other positions, such as wait staff, cooks, or supervisory roles. Some spend years with an employer before getting promoted to a manager role
  • Consider starting out with a smaller establishment before applying to a larger one, unless you already have a strong academic background and meet all job requirements 
  • Set up notification alerts on and other job portals 
  • College internships are a common way to get started, so do good work and they might have a job waiting for you after graduation! 
  • Keep in touch with your old teachers and supervisors who can serve as references
  • Move to where the jobs are! The highest-employing states for this career are California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Ohio
  • Check out Food Service Manager resume templates and sample Food Service Manager interview questions 
  • Make sure your resume is error-free, engaging, and filled with stats and impact
  • Be familiar with the restaurant you’re interviewing with. Study their menu, look at their history, read the bios of their owners and top cooks, and be ready to explain how you see yourself fitting in
How to Climb the Ladder
  • The best way to move up is to earn your employer’s business profits, repeat business, and great reviews on Google, Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, and other food-related sites 
  • Always demonstrate accountability and responsibility, and set an example for your crew to follow
  • Build your reputation as an innovative, problem-solving, results-driven professional who cares about delivering top-notch cuisine and stellar customer service
  • Forge strong relationships with vendors and suppliers
  • Stay engaged with food industry trends and maintain a balance of new menu items and customer favorites
  • Always keep learning by reading books and articles, talking with peers, and taking courses to keep your skills sharp
  • Whatever your academic level, consider bumping it up a level. If you have an associate’s, go for a bachelor’s! If you have a certification, get an advanced certification to enhance your talents and increase your value to your employer
  • Take time to thoroughly train and mentor staff. Help them understand the establishment’s short- and long-term goals, especially related to safety, efficiency, and customer loyalty
  • Stay engaged with industry-related organizations like the American Culinary Federation by attending conferences and events, giving talks, writing articles, and building your social capital 
  • If you’re up for it, craft a business plan, secure investors, and launch your own restaurant or franchise! 
Plan B

Being a Food Service Manager can be a tough gig, with long hours and little recognition. Most people have to work their way up from other positions to be a manager. Sometimes they even discover that they prefer those roles, and want to steer their food industry careers in another direction. A few popular food-related jobs include: 

  • Bartenders
  • Chefs and Head Cooks
  • Cooks
  • First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers
  • Food Servers
  • Lodging Managers
  • Sales Managers


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