The food service manager is the person in a restaurant or cafeteria who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the day to day operations of the establishment are carried out in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations for the preparing of food in a commercial environment. They are also tasked with ensuring customer satisfaction with the overall dining experience that they are receiving at the restaurant or cafeteria.
The average median salary for a food service manager in 2008 was $46,320. Those who were in the lowest ten percent of earners in this line of work were paid under $29,450, while those in the highest ten percent received over $76.940. The wide variance in these salaries is attributable to the many different types of retail dining establishments available in the industry. Those with smaller budgets, such as fast food restaurants or single-entity, mom-and-pop diners, are not in a position to offer higher levels of compensation to their managers. At the other end of the spectrum, high-profile dining establishments that have reputations for providing quality food and accommodations, and who cater to wealthy clients and large businesses, are able to provide their food service managers with higher salaries.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
The food service manager is the final authority responsible for ensuring that the daily operation of a restaurant, cafeteria, or other dining establishment is conducted in a manner that is both reliable, satisfying to customers, and in compliance with all health and sanitation regulations. They are responsible for overseeing both the kitchen and dining area of a restaurant. The food service manager is also responsible for the business aspects of the restaurant, including ensuring that the establishment has adequate inventory. In this task, they are to make sure that the restaurant is not at risk of running out of a particular piece of inventory, like a particularly popular dish on the menu, while at the same time ensuring that their inventory does not expire and go to waste.
Food service managers are also responsible for managing the human resources of an establishment. They are tasked with recruiting staff members, coaching them when their performance is not up to par, and terminating workers who are incapable of meeting the establishment’s expectations or for gross violations of policy. They are also responsible for producing the restaurant’s work schedule, ensuring that there are enough chefs and cooks, wait staff, and support staff to handle the needs of the restaurant’s paying customers. In some cases, they may also be responsible for setting the working hours of the establishment in order to best manage costs and maximize revenue.
In the event of a customer complaint, it is the responsibility of the food service manager to determine the cause of the complaint. If there is a problem with the quality of a dish being served, the manager will investigate to see if there was an error with the preparation of the dish on the part of the chef, or an issue with the inventory. If there are concerns with the speed of delivery of food, the manager is responsible for auditing the work flow within the kitchen to see if there are bottlenecks or other areas that can be improved.
The restaurant manager is also responsible for oversight of the revenue collection in the restaurant. This involves ensuring that deposits are made to the bank in a timely manner so that revenue collected is quickly made available to cover the costs of running the restaurant.
In essence, everything that happens within the walls of the restaurant falls under the authority of the establishment’s food service manager.
Training and Education Requirements
Food service managers are generally expected to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, like food service management, hospitality management, or culinary arts. Higher paying employers in more high-profile establishments may require the completion of a Master’s degree in such a field. In some cases, a degree in a field that is tangentially related, such as Business, may be sufficient if the candidate can prove expertise in the restaurant industry through some other means, such as work experience.
There is not a national certification or licensure that is required to become a food service manager, though some states and municipalities may require completion of some kind of program to ensure that the manager is aware of the regulations that are applicable to the establishment. One professional organization in the industry, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, awards a voluntary Food Service Management Professional certification to candidates who complete certain criteria. This certification can often stand as a benchmark for determining the capabilities of the professional.
There are several professional associations affiliated with the food service industry. One is the previously mentioned National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Other associations include the National Restaurant Association (the parent organization of the NRAEF), and the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education. All of these organizations seek to advance the aims of the food service industry.