The Secret to Finding Good Restaurant Managers for the Kitchen - Ep 65

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The Secret to Finding Good Restaurant Managers for the Kitchen

Hiring a restaurant manager is a challenge, but there’s no greater challenge than finding the right kitchen manager. A lot of restaurant owners look to chefs as an ideal manager in the kitchen. After all, they are people destined to help create an experience in a restaurant that results in pleasure and lasting memories. But often a chef is unprepared to lead the restaurant because the higher the position a person has in a kitchen, the less they will cook. In a well-run restaurant, the title of chef is less about creativity and more about management. 

In this episode of my podcast, The Restaurant Prosperity Formula, you will learn the pitfalls to avoid when you’re looking to hire a restaurant manager in the kitchen and the traits to look for in a new hire. I’ll also teach you the kitchen manager’s true role in the restaurant and what to expect from them. And finally, you’ll learn what to do if you find a person who fits your restaurant’s culture but has some learning to do to be effective in your restaurant.

Make sure you grab a pad of paper and a pen and take notes on this one. Before I share with you what you should be looking for to make this process much easier, let’s look at the common reasons restaurant owners end up selecting the wrong person.

Avoid these in your search for a restaurant manager for the kitchen

It's pretty easy to think you found the right person, right? You're trying to find the right person to take over your kitchen, and you’re certain you’ve found the right person only to be disappointed again. Why is it so easy to think we found the right person?

Sometimes you're in a bind. Maybe you’ve already been running short-staffed, you’re going into season, and you need somebody right now. You're in a bind, feeling a little desperate, you see a good resume and experience and you go for it.

Other times you're just tired. You lost your kitchen manager, and you've been in the kitchen making up those hours and then some. You don't want to be there anymore, and the first person that can fog a mirror says they’ll accept the position so you hire them.

Sometimes you're looking for a lifeline. Maybe you're like me. I don't belong in the kitchen. I can run a kitchen, order on budget and par levels. I can schedule on budget and operate off opening and closing checklists, but I have zero cooking knowledge or skills. If you're like me and you just need a culinary pro because you’re fearful of your kitchen, you’ll take the first person who can talk the talk.

And another common scenario is you want to find a person quickly. You're impatient and don’t let the process take its course so you hire the first person who walks in the door.  

The reality is when it comes to hiring great managers for a restaurant kitchen, more often that not, you pick the wrong person. Let’s talk about changing that outcome for you in your restaurant.

What to look for in a kitchen manager during the interview process 

  • Somebody who fits your company culture.
  • Culinary experience that matches your restaurant.
  • Knowledge about the important numbers for restaurants.
  • Experience training other team members.
  • Willing to learn.
  • Willing to do things your way.

Understands it’s your restaurant.

In the interview process, you’re seeing the absolute best this person could ever be. And I don't know anybody who shows up every day giving their absolute 100% best possible self every single day. It won’t get any better than what you're looking at in the interview. Don't get discouraged. If they don't meet the vision you had, if you've trained them what their job is how to do it, how well it should be done more importantly by when, and they demonstrate they got it, then it's on them.

What to expect from the leader of your restaurant kitchen

Whether they're a kitchen manager or a chef, the short answer is that there's really only one difference between the two of them. When it comes to job expectations, you should expect your chef is going to have a much broader knowledge of food. From French cuisine to knife skills to being able to break down a side of beef, they will have a broad range of knowledge and culinary skills. They have an ability to train others the same way. A kitchen manager is going to manage a kitchen but may not have the culinary knowledge of a chef. But that end of the day, chef still means manager. 

  • Knows and creates all menu items offered at the restaurant upon approval from owners.
  • Provides build sheets and photographs so all staff can accurately answer menu item questions regarding preparation methods, ingredients, portion sizes and side items accompanying the dishes.
  • Sets all specifications for substitutions for items on the menu.
  • Orders on budget, following pars.
  • Calculates and compares actual to ideal food cost.
  • Maintains a level of inventory that turns four to six times a month.
  • Ensures that proper food controls are in place to maintain an appropriate level of cost of goods, within ½ percent of the target budgeted food cost.
  • Stays within line-item budgetary goals assigned to this position, following the restaurant’s annual budget.
  • Creates specials at least one week ahead of time and properly costs and prices each item.
  • Builds menu for catering, from passed appetizers to full sit down on-site and off-site events.
  • Creates specials at least one week ahead of time and properly costs and prices each item.
  • Builds menu for catering, from passed appetizers to full sit down on-site and off-site events.
  • Implements proper people practices regarding interviewing, selection, training and employee relations.
  • Meets uniform and appearance standards.
  • Maintains five-star health and sanitation rating with department of health.
  • Maintains appropriate staffing levels.
  • Controls labor within ½ percent of targeted labor cost.
  • Maintains a positive attendance record, reports for assigned shifts, 0% no call/no show.
  • Ensures ALL sanitation and safety standards are followed.
  • Encourages and develops a cooperative team environment.
  • Implements employee development plans.
  • Leads by example.

Get the full details and explanation on each of these categories in the podcast. Also tune in to hear stories about restaurant owners I’ve worked with who have had these same challenges and what they did to find someone reliable to be a restaurant manager in the kitchen.

Click the podcast player above to listen in, or you can watch the video on YouTubeclick here to download the latest episode.  

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