What Makes a Good Restaurant Manager?

What makes a good restaurant manager? At Bottleneck, we strive to hire and develop the best employees. Furthering their knowledge and professional growth is something we’re fiercely committed to. We also have a strong understanding of what makes a good manager; someone who’s able to oversee the many aspects of the business and work through challenges that come with the restaurant industry.

We surveyed our operations and training teams to offer this Restaurant Manager Skills List; a guide to the requirements of excellent restaurant management, and a helpful resource for restaurant industry employees looking to advance their skills in order to stand out as an employee, both on a resume and in an interview.

What makes a good restaurant manager?

Alisa Levina: “A good restaurant manager understands that their job can be selfless. They wear many hats and deal with a lot of variables like emotions and making ‘on-the-fly’ decisions. This requires a sense of mental durability and lightheartedness. Someone who is full of authentic energy and passion for the industry, someone who is vested in the quality of product coming out of their restaurant, someone who understands the importance of developing their staff…I could go on!”

Jordan Gibrick: “The best managers know that being successful is about more than writing schedules, ordering products, and controlling costs. The best managers focus on their people! Cultivating a great working environment, motivating staff to be their best, coaching and developing, and doing everything they can to ensure our guests have the best experience possible.”

Leanne Farley: “A successful restaurant manager, or anyone in the restaurant industry for that matter, must have a servant leadership mentality. They must have a genuine desire to serve the guest, their employees, and their community. Having the ‘hospitality gene’ is evident in those that do well in this fast-paced, ever-changing environment. You can see these qualities in a positive attitude and can-do spirit no matter what is going on around them.”

Kristin Albert: “Someone that is upbeat and positive, likes to talk to guests, is a good communicator, likes to train and develop, is proactive and sets others up for success, sets clear expectations and holds staff and managers accountable, takes initiative, understands how to build top line sales through hospitality and execution, understands how to control costs and how the bottom line is affected. Passion for what they do sets the tone for all staff and vibe in the restaurant.

What qualities do you look for in any staff member?

AL: “Someone who is dedicated, driven, highly energetic, joyful, and always seeking opportunities.”

JG: “Team players, positive energy, hospitality, passion, and those who understand that we are in the people business!”

LF: “Integrity, hospitality, honesty, sense of urgency, positive attitude, great communication skills.”

KA: “A lot of the things that are also the qualities of a good restaurant manager from question one – positive attitude, has a passion for what they do, humility, teamwork, patience, calm under pressure, initiative, can delegate, leads by example, great communication, time management, being proactive.”

What do you look for as signs of growth or leadership potential?

AL: “Patience, commitment to their team, integrity, and a positive outlook. Someone who does the right thing when no one is watching and someone who holds their team to a higher standard in a way that gets results.”

JG: “See above! Those who understand that we are in the people business are key.”

LF: “The restaurant industry is definitely one of the last remaining where attitude trumps skill every time. We can teach anyone all the technical skills and knowledge needed to run a restaurant if they have the right attitude. If they have a desire to serve, take the initiative, and have a constant focus on improvement, then they have the potential to be a leader with us. Providing small steps toward leadership allows us to see them in that role on a smaller scale. Becoming a Trainer, then a Red Shirt, then a Manager In Training provides a path to master new skills while demonstrating your leadership potential.”

KA: “Someone who shows they are a leader in their current position already – takes the initiative to better the restaurant and/or guest experience, eager to learn and be challenged, enjoys working with others and training, enjoys coming to work…passion for what they do.”

Restaurant Manager Skills List

List the top three skills you look for on a resume:

AL: “Work ethic. Passionate. How many people have they developed and where are they now.”

JG: “On resumes, I look for length of tenure at a job. I always view job hoppers as a red flag. I look at the quality of the resume, if there are spelling/grammatical errors that is also a red flag. Lastly, I look at where they have worked. For our concepts it’s always good to find people who have worked in high-volume, structured environments.”

LF: “In this industry, working at any restaurant for a length of time ensures the basic skills are mastered. More important than the restaurant manager skills are the proficiencies. Demonstrating longevity is huge. Showing that they can take an area and make an impact such as building sales and guest counts, reducing turnover, reducing costs, and developing high-performing teams are the big ones.”

KA: “Development of others/promotion/training. Great communicator. Interpersonal skills.”

We hope you can use these viewpoints on restaurant manager qualities and skills to help further your own career in the industry. If you are looking to grow along with one of the best restaurant groups in the US, we encourage you to check out our careers page and get in touch!

~Bottleneck Management