How To Be a Restaurant Manager

Restaurant manager talking to staff

Imagine yourself taking a bite of the best dish you've ever tasted in a restaurant served at a clean table with comfortable chairs. Helpful servers are ready nearby if you are to need anything at all during the course of the evening. You note how the lighting, music and general atmosphere make you feel right at home as you take a sip of a beverage perfectly paired with your delicious meal.

If you have had an enjoyable experience at a restaurant, a restaurant manager was working behind the scenes to provide the best possible service. Do you aspire to pursue a career in restaurant management? Below, you can learn how to be a restaurant manager and you’ll get the answers to some common questions such as, Do you need a degree to be a restaurant manager?

In This Article:

What Is a Restaurant Manager?

A restaurant manager oversees a restaurant, its employees and all activities necessary to keep it running. These managers are influential in the restaurant workings and may complete different tasks as needed.

What Does a Restaurant Manager Do?

Restaurant managers must perform a variety of duties on a daily basis. Some of these duties may differ each day based on the shift and restaurant, but here are a few common restaurant manager duties:

  • Customer service
  • Staffing
  • Scheduling
  • Marketing
  • Menu planning
  • Implementing policies
  • Finances
  • Vendor Coordination

It’s also important to note that food service establishments are subject to strict health and safety codes. It’s essential that restaurant managers be familiar with all applicable codes and ensure that the establishment remains in strict compliance. Restaurant managers may also be responsible for ensuring that all employees strictly abide by health and safety regulations.

Skills and Qualities of a Good Restaurant Manager

If you are considering a career in this field you may be wondering, What makes a good restaurant manager? As restaurant managers must often wear many hats, they need to have a variety of skills and qualities to be efficient in their job. Here are a few qualities of a good restaurant manager:

  • Effective leader: In order to be a good restaurant manager, it is important to be a good leader. This will make it easier for other restaurant staff and employees to also work effectively.
  • Hospitable: Being hospitable while managing a restaurant is extremely important. Restaurant managers ask questions like, What can I do to ensure the comfort of the guests? or Can the quality of the food and experience be improved?
  • Organized: Managers have to take charge of many different things during the day, so being organized is of great importance.
  • Clear: Restaurant managers must be clear and concise when interacting with staff and customers. This helps eliminate confusion and ensures everyone is clear on direction and responsibilities.
  • Patient: Patience can emphasize the qualities of a good manager. Especially in a busy restaurant setting, it can be easy to slip up and make the wrong dish or forget where to bring a plate of food. Patience can help eliminate errors and costly mistakes.
  • Positive: Positivity can go a long way in positions of leadership. It can improve the environment for both guests and employees.
  • Problem solver: Every day brings new challenges for a restaurant manager and their staff. Employees look to the manager to quickly assess the problem and deliver effective solutions designed to uphold the quality of the service.
  • Conflict resolver: Conflict resolution skills (and by extension, communication skills) are must-haves for aspiring restaurant managers. No matter how good the food is or how excellent the service is, there will be a few dissatisfied customers, vendors and other parties from time to time. Effective restaurant managers must know how to communicate in a way that deescalates conflict and resolves tricky issues.
  • Supply chain expert: Most businesses rely on a functional supply chain, and restaurants are no exception. Restaurant managers must be able to source high-quality, low-cost ingredients, supplies and equipment. They must also be able to creatively solve supply chain issues, such as shortages of needed items and price hikes of raw materials. Supply chain expertise is particularly critical during times of national crises, such as pandemics.

How To Become a Restaurant Manager Step-by-Step

If you are interested in a career as a restaurant manager, there are a few steps you can take to set yourself up for success in the hospitality field. The following steps detail the process of how to become a restaurant manager.

Gain Experience in a Restaurant

The first step to becoming a restaurant manager is to earn experience that will help you grow your skills and knowledge.

In the restaurant industry, experience is priceless. You may start as a server and move to a shift supervisor to gain an understanding of the industry and how to operate a restaurant business. Having experience in various positions within a restaurant will help prepare you for becoming a restaurant manager.

Earn a Hospitality Management Degree

If you have been to many restaurants, you probably already know that not all restaurants are alike, and they have different practices. Some restaurants may not require you to earn a college-level degree, but rather they may put you through training on how to manage a restaurant. However, there are national restaurant chains that have internship programs designed specifically for college students enrolled in a hospitality or culinary undergraduate degree program. These internships offer opportunities to learn the multiple functions of a restaurant, including management training.1,2

Do you need a degree to be a restaurant manager? While front-of-house and back-of-house experience is crucial to becoming a restaurant manager, earning a relevant degree can teach you additional competencies that are not often learned on the job. For example, aspiring restaurant managers may choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. This degree helps students develop skills and qualities in areas such as:

  • Accounting and finance
  • Human resource management
  • Business ethics
  • Supply chain management
  • Marketing

Become Certified

It is important to make sure you have any necessary certifications for how to become a restaurant manager. This can differ depending on the city and state your restaurant is in, as well as the specific restaurant. Two common certifications you may need as a restaurant manager is a Food Handler's Certificate and a Certified Food Protection Manager credential.3 If you work in a fine-dining restaurant, you may also consider becoming a certified sommelier.3

Grand Canyon University’s Colangelo College of Business offers degree programs such as the Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management and the Bachelor of Science in Business Management programs. If you are interested in learning more about the online or campus degree programs available at GCU, complete the form on this page to connect with a university counselor.

1 Hillstone Restaurant Group. Careers and Summer Internships. Retrieved on June 13, 2023.

2 Pappas’ Restaurants. College Internships. Retrieved on June 13, 2023.

3 Maricopa County. (n.d.). Food & Restaurants. Maricopa County. Retrieved April 13, 2023.

Approved by the academic program coordinator for the Colangelo College of Business on June 14, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.