Typical Roles at a Restaurant


The positions you will need to fill will depend to some extent on the kind of atmosphere you want your restaurant to have. However, all restaurants will need a manager, servers, and a chef. In general, the nicer the restaurant, the more experience its employees will be expected to have. (This is especially the case for servers and chefs.)

General Manager

This is the first role you’ll need to think about when building your team. In many cases, the business owner can act as his/her own general manager.

Typical Salary: $35,000 per year

What Does This Role Entail?

  • Hiring and scheduling employees
  • Keeping track of inventory
  • Adhering to health and safety standards
  • Ensuring customer satisfaction

Who to Look For:

  • Previous management experience
  • Able to manage customers’ complaints
  • Available for many shifts, as they are an integral part of everyday business

Head Chef

Unless your restaurant is a fast food franchise, you will need a head chef who oversees the kitchen and determines your menu. This is probably not a job for the owner, as the owner will need to oversee administrative tasks and cannot be in the kitchen all day.

Typical Salary: $42,000 per year

What This Role Entails:

  • Designing menu (changing it seasonally to take advantage of fresh ingredients and keep customers returning)
  • Overseeing line cooks in the kitchen

Who to Look For:

  • Creative cook
  • Good people management skills
  • Able to work well in a hectic and fast paced environment
  • Some higher level kitchen experience

Line Cook

Line cooks work under the chef doing most of the kitchen work. You will want at least one or two to start with, as head chefs cannot manage the entire kitchen alone.

Typical Salary: $11 per hour

What This Role Entails:

  • Chopping vegetables, making sauces, etc.
  • Working under the head or sous chef

Who to Look For:

  • No experience necessary, but it is preferred
  • Quick and efficient worker (kitchens are noisy, fast-paced work environments)
  • Works well with a team

Server

Each server is assigned a section of the restaurant, and is responsible for the customers in their section. They are people in your restaurant who will interact with customers the most.

Typical Salary: $5 per hour (not including tips)

What This Role Entails:

  • Taking customer’s orders
  • Bringing food and drinks out from the kitchen
  • Bringing customers the bill

Who to Look For:

  • Past server experience only necessary in upscale restaurants
  • Patient and friendly with customers
  • Good memory for orders

Host/Hostess

The host or hostess is the first person to greet your customers, so they must be friendly and welcoming.

Typical Salary: $9 per hour

What This Role Entails:

  • Welcoming customers into the restaurant
  • Seating them at a table with menus, making sure to give each server an equal amount of customers
  • May also consist of helping to clear tables

Who to Look For:

  • No experience necessary
  • Friendly and welcoming
  • Organized; can seat customers strategically and keep track of a waiting list for tables

Runner

Runners complete miscellaneous tasks to make the jobs of the kitchen staff and servers easier.

Typical Salary: $8 per hour

What This Role Entails:

  • Clearing tables
  • Bringing food from the kitchen to customers

Who to Look For:

  • Friendly and polite with customers
  • No experience necessary

Bartender

Many restaurants have a full bar, and choose to hire bartenders so that servers do not have to spend their time making drinks.

Typical Salary: $8 per hour (not including tips)

What This Role Entails:

  • Making drinks for those at the bar and for all the tables in the restaurant
  • Chatting with customers at the bar

Who to Look For:

  • No experience necessary (except in upscale restaurants)
  • License required
  • Friendly and talkative
  • Creative flair for making and garnishing drinks

Dishwasher

Dishwashers keep clean dishes coming all day for the kitchen staff and customers. This role is almost never filled by other employees (such as servers), due to the high volume of dishes most restaurants generate.

Typical Salary: $8 per hour

What This Role Entails:

  • Washing plates, silverware, and kitchen equipment

Who to Look For:

  • No experience necessary
  • Should be able to lift heavy equipment in the kitchen

Delivery Driver

If your restaurant offers delivery services, you will need one or more employees to load a car or truck up with delivery orders and take them to customers.

Typical Salary: $8 per hour (not including tips)

What This Role Entails:

  • Loading food from the kitchen into personal or company car
  • Delivering food to local customers

Who to Look For:

  • Drivers license required
  • No experience necessary

Restaurant Hiring Tips


Hiring employees can seem like a nerve-wracking process, but it doesn't have to be. We break the process down into four basic steps: (1) Planning; (2) Recruiting; (3) Interviewing; and (4) Completing the Hire. Here are some tips for each phase of the process

Plan to Staff Your Business

Different restaurants have very different atmospheres, ranging from family friendly to the very upscale. Decide who your target demographic will be, and this will determine how to set up your restaurant.

No matter what kind of restaurant you have, there will be a lunch rush and a dinner rush. You may want to schedule fewer employees from about 2-5 pm, as there will certainly be a lull in business during this time in the afternoon.

All of your employees will need to understand that customer service is the top priority of your business. This is especially true of the host, who will be greeting customers, and the servers, who will have the majority of customer interactions.

Develop a Recruiting Strategy

Restaurants are needed in all areas, but make sure that your location matches up with your target customer base. For example, a fancy restaurant would do best in an urban area. A restaurant that specializes in fast takeout service would do best on a college campus or near a lot of office buildings. Once you determine your ideal location, advertise with flyers around town and through social media. Also consider advertising around university campuses. Make sure you also post your job openings online, especially if there is already buzz in the community about your new bar.

Be sure that your job description accurately portrays the mood and mission of your business, as well as the roles and expected qualifications of the candidate you are looking for.

Interview with Confidence

If you take your time during the planning and recruiting phases of the process, you will likely end up with many qualified candidates.

Nonetheless, it is perfectly natural for a new business owner to be a bit anxious the first time hiring employees. Don’t forget that the interview is just a chance to get to know an applicant and to give them an opportunity to learn more about the role and the business. Also, it might help to remember that they are probably even more nervous than you are!

Throughout the interview process, it may help to keep in mind that most restaurant owners look for employees who are:

  • Friendly
  • Organized
  • Detail-oriented
  • Clean
  • Excellent communicators

Here are some sample interview questions that will help you learn more about the character of your interviewees:

  • How would you deal with a customer who insists that their order came out wrong or doesn’t taste good?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked under stress. How did you manage it?
  • Would you be available to work during weekday evenings and weekends?
  • Why are you interested in working for us?
  • Interviewer may also wish to test interviewee’s short term memory and mental math ability when taking customer orders and handling cash.

Be Familiar with Hiring Laws

After selecting a job candidate, there are certain steps you will need to follow to complete the hiring process. Check out our Hiring Compliance Checklist for a step-by-step guide to the legal aspects of hiring employees.

One of the most important steps is to classify your new hire as an employee or an independent contractor. Become familiar with IRS guidelines on this matter, as there are serious consequences for misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor.

For more details, please refer to our guide on the topic, Contractors vs. Employees: What You Need to Know. We also provide templates for the essential hiring forms you will need.

Set Up Payroll


Once you have a growing team of employees, it's time to set up your payroll. Using a payroll service provider saves you time for running your business, and also helps ensure that you comply with important federal requirements such as employee tax withholding.

To help our readers save money and grow their business, we negotiated a 20% discount for you with payroll provider ADP, the most popular small business provider in the country.

Try ADP and get 20% off payroll services for your business.

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