How to climb the restaurant ladder

How to climb the restaurant ladder Share this article

Working in the foodservice industry is never boring or slow. Additionally, it's a great way to meet new people every day while working closely with a talented team. 

Every role in a restaurant is essential to overall operations. The nature of each job varies. Bussers clear off and set up tables. Hosts and hostesses meet and greet newly arrived guests. Line cooks focus on food safety, cooking and cleaning the kitchen. So how does one move up the restaurant ladder to become the head waiter or executive chef?

Know where you want to be
Figure out what kind of roles are available in a restaurant. Depending on the type of venue you're looking into, you'll find that certain roles exist in some that don't in others. After all, a place without a bar won't have a bartender, and a maître d' is only found in fine dining establishments. 

Whether you're aspiring to an existing position within your current location or if you're planning on eventually relocating to another restaurant, achieving your goal begins from the moment you're hired at a food service venue. It doesn't matter if you're a busser, host, waiter or line cook – you want to make a good impression on your managers.

Take the right steps
When you start your new job, you'll go through training to learn about food and personal safety. This will include handling procedures and, depending on your role, may include a discussion about the importance of nonslip shoes. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to speak up. After all, safety is of the utmost importance and your actions affect you, your co-workers and guests. Once you're comfortable handling your responsibilities, it's time to work your way up the ladder.

1. Overachieve: The quickest way to show your interest off the bat is by completing your duties diligently and looking for more work when there's downtime. This shows that you have a vested interest in the overall restaurant operations and want to learn more beyond what's listed on your job requirements. 

2. Express your interest: Let your managers know that you want to eventually move into a higher role early on. This way, they'll know to keep an eye on your progress and may even give you extra duties over time. By letting them know which positions you'd like to advance into, they can delegate work that's relevant to the job that you want. 

3. Speak to the person in the position: You can quickly learn about the ins and outs of the job you want by speaking to the person who holds the position now. Though his or her duties are outlined in job descriptions, actually speaking to the individual can give you further insight into the unique challenges and rewards of the job.

4. Ask for training: Once you've firmly established your presence as a reliable busser, host, server or line cook, speak to your managers about whether they'd be willing to provide further training to help you advance. This way, when a position opens up, you'll have many of the skills necessary for the job.

Climbing the restaurant ladder is a matter of voicing your goals and working hard. Your co-workers and managers will recognize your dedication, which will most likely pay off. Above all, don't focus so much on your advancement that you forget to have fun. Foodservice offers a unique professional experience that can't be had elsewhere, so remember to enjoy yourself!


Brought to you by Shoes For Crews, the trusted leader in safety footwear to food service employees for more than 30 years.

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