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The Essential Guide to Restaurant Positions and Job Descriptions

The Essential Guide to Restaurant Positions and Job Descriptions

Whether you’re serving take-out to a customer on-the-go, or providing a five-star fine dining experience, you need a great staff to leave your customers with a lasting impression of quality. Fast food, fast casual, casual dining, and fine dining all have some of the same restaurant positions, and several that are unique to your segment of the industry.

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Common Restaurant Staff

From fast food to five-star eateries, these foodservice positions will be on your hiring list.

General Manager

General managers play a key role in every restaurant. They are responsible for hiring, firing, and training employees, overseeing general restaurant activities, and working on marketing and community outreach strategies. They may also help to set menu prices and purchase supplies.

Useful Skills

    • Excellent people skills
    • Cool under pressure
    • May require a 2-4 year degree and/or experience

Assistant Manager

Second in command, but not less important, assistant managers are essential for every busy restaurant. They assist the manager with training duties, help with decision making, and fill in if the manager has the day off.

Useful Skills

  • Excellent people skills
  • Cool under pressure
  • May require a 2-4 year degree and/or experience

Line Cook

Although the duties differ depending upon the establishment, line cooks can be found in most restaurants, excluding fast food. A line cook may be responsible for one or multiple areas of the kitchen, such as the grill or fryer, depending upon the size and scale of the restaurant.

Useful Skills

  • Works well with others
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently
  • Experience in a restaurant kitchen may be required

Dishwasher

Essential members of any restaurant staff, dishwashers are not only responsible for making sure dishware is spotless, but they must also keep the kitchen clean and clear of garbage and hazardous clutter.

Useful Skills

  • Works well with others
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently


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Exclusive to Fast Food

These job descriptions are only for those who can take the heat of working in an incredibly fast-paced, demanding environment.

Drive-Thru Operator

When customers want food in a hurry, drive-thru operators must use active listening skills to ensure customer satisfaction. They are responsible for providing friendly customer service while using the cash register, taking orders, and delivering the food through the window.

Useful Skills

  • Excellent people skills
  • Cool under pressure
  • Cash handling skills

Fast Food Cook

Like the name suggests, fast food cooks must be able to prepare orders in a timely fashion. They work with equipment such as deep fryers, grills, and sandwich makers. Sometimes they may have to serve customers at their tables or at the drive-thru window.

Useful Skills

  • Works well with others
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently

Cashier

Like the drive-thru operator, cashiers must accurately record a customer’s order and handle cash to process the transaction. Cashiers must be able to listen when customers have problems or concerns with their orders and respond to their questions appropriately.

Useful Skills

  • Excellent people skills
  • Cool under pressure
  • Cash handling skills

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Fast Casual and Casual Dining

There are special roles for eateries that aren’t quite fast food, but don’t follow fine dining standards either.

Short Order Cook

Short order cooks can be found in diners and fast casual eateries, serving up quick recipes like breakfast foods, sandwiches and burgers, and even salads. They must be able to work quickly and competently, as well as prepare several orders at once.

Useful Skills

  • Works well with others
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently
  • Experience in a restaurant kitchen may be required

Barista

At any coffee shop or café there is a barista making your favorite drinks. Baristas are responsible for preparing any number of specialty coffee, tea, and smoothie drinks, made-to-order for customers in a hurry.

Useful Skills

  • Excellent memory
  • Excellent people skills
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently
  • Cash handling skills
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Casual and Fine Dining

The more upscale a restaurant becomes, the more restaurant positions need to be filled in order to ensure that guests have a top quality experience.

Kitchen Manager

Like general managers, kitchen managers are responsible for hiring and firing employees, buying supplies and ingredients, and ensuring quality. However, a general manager controls both kitchen employees and front of house employees, whereas a kitchen manager only manages operations behind kitchen doors. 

Useful Skills

  • Excellent people skills
  • Cool under pressure
  • May require a 2-4 year degree and/or experience

Food and Beverage Manager

Some restaurants employ a food and beverage manager to manage inventory, ensure that the kitchen is compliant with health codes, and create drink menus that pair well with entrees. Food and beverage managers may also be put in charge of some dining room responsibilities, such as creating schedules for servers.

Useful Skills

  • Excellent people skills
  • Highly organized
  • May require a 2-4 year degree and/or experience

Server

A good server can make or break the customer experience. Responsible for taking orders in a friendly manner, reporting orders to the kitchen, and calculating the bill, servers play an essential role in any casual or fine dining restaurant.

Useful Skills

  • Excellent memory
  • Excellent people skills
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently 

Prep Cook

Prep cooks work in casual and fine dining restaurants to ensure that the chefs have ingredients in easy reach when they are creating the evening’s dinner. If a dish calls for shredded cheese, you can bet that the prep cook has it ready to go for the chef, guaranteeing that the order gets out to the customer as quickly as possible. 

Useful Skills

  • Works well with others
  • Fast learner
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently

Runner

Runners make servers’ jobs easier by delivering the food from the kitchen to the table both quickly and safely. It is their responsibility to ensure that food arrives as soon as it is ready, and at the proper temperature.

Useful Skills

  • Cool under pressure
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently

Busser

An essential part of keeping a casual or fine dining restaurant clean, bussers are responsible for clearing and cleaning tables to prepare for the next customer. They may also assist servers by filling water glasses for customers.

Useful Skills

  • Cool under pressure
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently

Host

A host or hostess is responsible for the customers' initial reaction in any casual or fine dining restaurant. They must smile and greet customers, then take them to their seats and distribute menus. They are also responsible for answering phone calls and scheduling reservations.

Useful Skills

  • Patience
  • Excellent people skills
  • Cool under pressure
  • Highly organized

Bartender

Restaurant bartenders may serve customers directly or give their creations to servers for delivery, but either way, they must have an excellent memory and work well under pressure. A formal bartending education may be required at some restaurants, but many will hire based on experience.

Useful Skills

  • Excellent memory
  • Excellent people skills
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently
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Exclusive to Fine Dining

Fine dining isn’t called fine dining for no reason. Only the best foodservice positions are offered in these posh food palaces.

Executive Chef

The executive chef is responsible for every aspect of the food that is prepared and served. Behind the scenes of any fine dining kitchen, executive chefs are creating menus, managing kitchen staff, and making sure that food leaving the kitchen is up to standards.

Useful Skills 

  • Usually requires culinary degree and/or several years of experience
  • Cool under pressure
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently
  • Highly organized

Sous Chef

Second in fine kitchen command is the sous chef. Like executive chefs, sous chefs are held to very high standards. If the executive chef is off-duty, the sous chef is responsible for keeping the kitchen running as usual.

Useful Skills

  • Usually requires culinary degree and/or several years of experience
  • Cool under pressure
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently
  • Highly organized

Pastry Chef

Some fine dining establishments employ a pastry chef, responsible for creating sweet treats for diners to enjoy at breakfast time or for dessert. 

Useful Skills

  • Formal pastry training and/or experience
  • Cool under pressure
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently
  • Highly organized

Chef Garde Manager

Chef garde managers are in charge of all cold food items prepared in a fine dining kitchen. They prepare and plate salads, meat and cheese trays, and even cold desserts. Usually an entry-level position after formal culinary education, becoming a chef garde manager is a great way to gain kitchen experience.

Useful Skills

  • Cool under pressure
  • Ability to work quickly and efficiently
  • Highly organized

Maître D’

Similar to a host or hostess, the maître d’ is the first face customers see when they enter a fine dining establishment. Maître d’s must arrange reservations and seat guests, but are also responsible for management duties in the dining room, including creating a schedule for the wait staff. The maître d’ ensures customer satisfaction above all, making it an extremely important part of any fine dining experience.

Useful Skills

  • Patience
  • Excellent people skills
  • Cool under pressure
  • Highly organized

Sommelier

A sommelier is a necessity in any fine eatery that serves wine. A sommelier recommends pairings to guests and servers, creates wine menus, and purchases wine. 

Useful Skills

  • Formal education and/or experience is usually required
  • Excellent memory
  • Excellent people skills

Whatever your specialty is, make sure that it is delivered to customers with service that will keep them coming through the door for many years to come. Employing a first-rate staff will keep your restaurant running smoothly and your guests happy. Use this restaurant positions and job descriptions list to guide you through all of your hiring decisions. To keep your hard-working employees content, check out www.bls.gov to find appropriate salary information for each position.

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