Catering/Restaurant Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Catering and restaurant managers combine a knowledge of food and drink with strong people and budget management skills. It is their job to keep their catering business running smoothly, and their customers and staff happy.

The job of a catering and restaurant manager varies widely, from a restaurant manager running a small, independent establishment to a general manager running a large contract catering operation, providing food services to organisations such as hospitals and schools.

The job may include:

  • Recruiting and training staff.
  • Planning menus.
  • Organising shift patterns and staff rotas.
  • Ensuring health and safety, and food safety regulations are met at all times.
  • Managing stock control and ordering supplies.
  • Overseeing the budget and establishing financial targets.
  • Liaising with clients and suppliers.
  • Monitoring the standard of the service and product provided.
  • In a restaurant, working 'front-of-house' and interacting with customers.
  • In contract catering, negotiating contracts with customers.

Restaurant managers have to be prepared to work long days and unsocial hours. The job usually involves working in the evenings, even after the restaurant has closed, as well as at weekends and on public holidays. Restaurant managers may work shifts or split shifts, which means working in the morning and coming in again for an evening shift.

Catering managers, especially in businesses, schools or colleges, are more likely to work regular daytime hours.

Part-time work may be possible, but most managers work full time to cope with the demands of the job.

Restaurant managers usually work indoors in a warm, pleasant environment. They spend some of their time front-of-house, in the restaurant itself, and also work in an office and possibly the kitchen.

Catering managers may work on one site or be responsible for a number of sites, visiting each one on a regular basis.

Starting salaries may be between £15,000 and £23,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

The hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industry is one of the country's fastest growing sectors, employing nearly two million people. There are approximately 145,000 catering/restaurant managers working throughout the UK. There is currently a shortage of qualified managers.

Catering/restaurant managers are employed in every kind of eating establishment, from restaurants and fast-food outlets to hotels and company restaurants. The contract catering sector is currently expanding as more organisations are taking on contract caterers.

An increasing number of managers are needed for jobs in schools and higher education, the health service, local authorities, the prison service and the Armed Forces.

Jobs are advertised in trade magazines such as Caterer and Hotelkeeper, and in regional and local newspapers. There are lots of recruitment agencies that deal with catering and hospitality vacancies, including and

Education and Training

There is no single route into restaurant or catering management. The two most usual routes are:

  • By gaining experience in the food or hospitality industry at a lower level and working up to supervisory or management jobs.
  • By studying for a higher level qualification, such as an HNC/HND or degree, and joining a company as a trainee at a supervisory or assistant manager level.

Work experience is very important in this industry. There are lots of opportunities to do part-time or seasonal work in catering outlets such as pubs, restaurants and fast-food outlets. Taking up a bachelor of culinary arts can also be an excellent pathway to restaurant management.

Hospitality Apprenticeships are also available.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Many of the large hotel groups and restaurant chains run management training schemes. Applicants with A levels/H grades may be able to join straight from school, but some employers ask for further or higher education qualifications, such as a BTEC/SQA national certificate/diploma, HNC/HND, foundation degree or degree.

A variety of degree and HNC/HND courses are available. Particularly useful subjects include hospitality management; hotel and catering management; hospitality, leisure and tourism; international hospitality management; and culinary management.

Entry to a degree is usually with a minimum of two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or the equivalent. Entry to an HNC/HND course is with at least one A level/two H grades, or the equivalent.

Catering/restaurant managers are normally trained on the job to gain a broad overview of the business. However, in-house training varies widely across the sector so trainees are advised to obtain recognised qualifications as they progress.

It may be possible for trainees to work towards an NVQ/SVQ at Level 3 in Hospitality Supervision or an SVQ at Level 4 in Hospitality Management.

The Institute of Hospitality has developed new qualifications designed to support the Continuing Professional Development needs of hospitality industry managers. See for more information.

Management training schemes are likely to include specialised courses in subjects such as financial management, sales and marketing, human resource management, food safety and customer care.

Graduate Apprenticeships may be available (in England and Wales) for people with a degree or diploma in an unrelated discipline.

There are Master of Business Administration (MBA) courses specialising in hospitality management for people with the relevant experience and qualifications.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Catering/restaurant managers should:

  • Be excellent organisers.
  • Be good at thinking quickly and sorting out problems on the spot.
  • Have team leadership skills.
  • Have excellent customer service skills.
  • Have an interest in food and service delivery
  • Be able to stay calm in a crisis.
  • Be tactful when dealing with customers, clients and staff.
  • Have effective communication skills.
  • Be able to manage budgets, people and resources.
  • Stay up to date with health and safety requirements.

Your Long Term Prospects

Catering/restaurant managers may be able to progress into a general or regional management role. They may take on responsibility for more than one site or a large single-site operation within a large catering company.

There are also opportunities to move into hotel or leisure management.

Restaurant managers may eventually run their own restaurants. Similarly, many experienced catering managers start their own contract catering businesses.

Opportunities exist for working abroad as some of the larger employers also operate overseas.

Get Further Information

Institute of Hospitality, Trinity Court,
34 West Street, Sutton SM1 1SH
Tel: 020 8661 4900

People 1st, 2nd Floor, Armstrong House,
38 Market Square, Uxbridge UB8 1LH
Tel: 01895 857000

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