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What Food Service Managers Do About this section

food service managers image
Food service managers ensure that customers are satisfied with their dining experience.

Food service managers are responsible for the daily operation of restaurants or other establishments that prepare and serve food and beverages. They direct staff to ensure that customers are satisfied with their dining experience, and they manage the business to ensure that it runs efficiently.

Duties

Food service managers typically do the following:

  • Hire, train, discipline, and sometimes fire employees
  • Order food and beverages, equipment, and supplies
  • Oversee food preparation and other kitchen operations
  • Inspect supplies, equipment, and work areas
  • Ensure that employees comply with health and food safety standards
  • Address complaints regarding food quality or service
  • Schedule staff hours and assign duties
  • Manage budgets and payroll records
  • Establish standards for personnel performance and customer service

Managers coordinate activities of the kitchen and dining room staff to ensure that customers are served properly and in a timely manner. They oversee orders in the kitchen, and, if needed, they work with the chef to remedy service delays.

Food service managers are responsible for all functions of the business related to employees, including overseeing staffing and scheduling workers for each shift. During busy periods, managers may expedite service by helping to serve customers, process payments, or clean tables.

Managers also arrange for cleaning and maintenance of the equipment and facility in order to comply with health and sanitary regulations. For example, they may arrange for trash removal, pest control, and heavy cleaning when the dining room and kitchen are not in use.

In addition, managers have financial responsibilities that include budgeting, ensuring cash flow, and monitoring operational costs. They may set sales goals and determine promotional items.

Most managers prepare the payroll and manage employee records. They also may review or complete paperwork related to licensing, taxes and wages, and unemployment compensation. Although they sometimes assign these tasks to an assistant manager or a bookkeeper, most managers are responsible for the accuracy of business records.

Some managers add up the cash and charge slips and secure them in a safe place. They also may check that ovens, grills, and other equipment are properly cleaned and secured and that the establishment is locked at the close of business.

Work Environment About this section

Food service managers
Food service managers’ schedules vary and may include nights, weekends, and holidays.

Food service managers held about 309,800 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of food service managers were as follows:

Restaurants and other eating places 47%
Self-employed workers 35
Special food services 3
Accommodation 2

Full-service restaurants (those with table service) may have a management team that includes a general manager, one or more assistant managers, and an executive chef.

Food service managers’ work is often hectic, and dealing with dissatisfied customers may be stressful.

Injuries and illnesses

Kitchens are usually crowded and filled with dangerous objects and areas, such as hot ovens and slippery floors. As a result, injuries are a risk for food service managers, who may spend some of their time helping in the kitchen. Common hazards include slips, falls, and cuts. To reduce these risks, managers often wear nonslip shoes while in the kitchen.

Work Schedules

Most food service managers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Work schedules vary and may include early mornings, nights, weekends, and holidays. They may be called in at short notice.

Managers of food service facilities or cafeterias in schools, factories, or office buildings may be more likely to work traditional business hours.

How to Become a Food Service Manager About this section

Food service managers
Some food service managers start working in industry-related jobs, such as cooks.

Food service managers typically need a high school diploma and several years of experience in the food service industry working as a cook, waiter or waitress, or supervisor of food preparation and serving workers. Some receive additional training at a community college, technical or vocational school, culinary school, or 4-year college.

Education

Food service managers typically need a high school diploma, but education requirements for individual positions may vary from no formal educational credential to a college degree.

Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have postsecondary education, especially for jobs at upscale restaurants and hotels. Some food service companies, hotels, and restaurant chains recruit management trainees from college hospitality or food service management programs. These programs may require the participants to work in internships and to have food-industry–related experiences in order to graduate.

Many colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in restaurant and hospitality management or institutional food service management, both of which may be part of a personal and culinary services program. Another field of degree that may be helpful for managers is business. In addition, numerous community colleges, technical institutes, and other institutions offer associate’s degree programs. Some culinary schools offer programs in restaurant management with courses designed for those who want to start and run their own restaurant.

Most programs provide instruction in nutrition, sanitation, and food preparation, as well as courses in accounting, business law, and management. Some programs combine classroom and practical study with internships.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Most food service managers start working in related jobs, such as cooks, waiters and waitresses, or supervisors of food preparation and serving workers. They often spend years working in the food service industry, gaining experience and learning the necessary skills before they are promoted to manager positions.

Training

Food service managers  typically receive on-the-job training of at least 1 month. Topics covered during this training may include food preparation, sanitation, security, company policies, personnel management, and recordkeeping.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states and localities require that food service managers have food safety certification. For more information, contact your state or local health department.

Although certification is not always required, managers may obtain the Food Protection Manager Certification (FPMC) by passing a food safety exam. The American National Standards Institute accredits institutions that offer the FPMC.

Important Qualities

Business skills. Food service managers must understand all aspects of the restaurant business, including how to budget for supplies, comply with regulations, and manage workers.

Communication skills. Food service managers must give clear orders to staff and be able to convey information effectively to employees and customers.

Customer-service skills. Food service managers must be courteous and attentive when dealing with patrons.

Leadership skills. Managers must establish good relationships with staff to maintain a productive work environment.

Organizational skills. Managers have many different responsibilities, including scheduling and overseeing staff, budgeting, and maintaining financial records. The larger the establishment, the more complex their job is.

Physical stamina. Managers often work long shifts and sometimes spend entire evenings actively helping to serve customers.

Problem-solving skills. Managers need to be able to resolve personnel issues and customer-related problems.

Pay About this section

Food Service Managers

Median annual wages, May 2021

Management occupations

$102,450

Food service managers

$59,440

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for food service managers was $59,440 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $98,070.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for food service managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Accommodation $73,650
Special food services 70,160
Restaurants and other eating places 58,500

Most food service managers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Work schedules vary and may include early mornings, nights, weekends, and holidays. They may be called in at short notice.

Job Outlook About this section

Food Service Managers

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Food service managers

15%

Management occupations

9%

Total, all occupations

8%

 

Employment of food service managers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 41,400 openings for food service managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Much of the projected employment growth in this occupation is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession that began in 2020.

Food service managers will be needed to oversee food preparation and service as people continue to dine out, purchase takeout meals, and have food delivered to their homes or workplaces. However, more dining establishments are expected to rely on chefs and head cooks instead of hiring additional food service managers, which should limit employment growth in this occupation.

Employment projections data for food service managers, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Food service managers

11-9051 309,800 355,900 15 46,200 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about the Food Protection Manager Certification, visit

American National Standards Institute

For more information about food service managers, visit

National Restaurant Association

Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management

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Food Service Managers

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