I remember when I was first told I was going to be an assistant manager at a restaurant. It was back in 2011, and I had just finished up my last year at college. I was totally overwhelmed, not quite sure what to expect, but excited about the opportunity. Soaking in all the learning experiences, I soon realized that being an assistant manager at a Speedway Was Not at All Like I Thought It Would Be.
Why? Well, let’s take a look.
The Restaurant Business
First off, when I initially started working there, we didn’t call them restaurants back then, they were cafés back in French. Anyways, about seven years ago, they changed their name to Speedway. Since then, they have expanded to several different locations and are now one of the largest chain restaurants in North America. It’s pretty big, so it must be doing something right!
The restaurant business is definitely not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being an assistant manager at a high-profile restaurant, as well as a lot of hard work. Not to mention the financial responsibility that comes with running a business.
To give you some perspective, let’s take a look at what is it like to be an assistant manager at a small restaurant vs. a big restaurant:
- Small restaurants—those with between 4 and 12 seats—may only have 1 or 2 assistant managers. They typically work part-time as well and usually don’t have a full-time office manager.
- Mid-sized restaurants—those with between 12 and 24 seats—will have 1 to 2 full-time assistant managers.
- Big restaurants—those with 24 or more seats—will have 1 to 3 full-time office managers, 1 or 2 full-time managers, and sometimes even 4 or 5.
The Office And The People
Nowadays, most restaurants have completely changed from when I first started. They used to be a place that you would go to eat and maybe meet your friends there. Now, you would not even consider going to a restaurant unless you’re planning to order food and catch the attention of the office staff. That’s because most restaurants don’t want you to meet the people they serve, see, they want you to just come back for more.
In terms of the office environment, most restaurants are now very professional with sleek floors, whiteboards everywhere, and even an open-air kitchen if they’re lucky enough to have one. The bathrooms are usually brick with marble accents and have a lot of mirrors above the toilet.
So as you can see, there is a lot more than one way to be a manager, and it’s not always about yelling and commanding people to get things done. Sometimes, you just have to create an environment that encourages people to be their best, encourages them to innovate, and helps them grow. That’s why I consider myself lucky to have grown with the restaurant business. It’s a great way to learn about leadership, management, and the importance of a positive attitude.
Of course, there are always going to be challenges no matter what. But when you’re facing them daily, it starts to feel like work and you start to wonder if this is all really worth it. That’s why I feel like I have been given a really big responsibility, but also feel very fortunate to have been trusted by my employer and felt like I can make a difference.
I remember my first day, and I was so nervous. I had to walk into the restaurant, greet the guests, and hand them their menus. After that, I went back to my desk and tried to settle in for the day. About 30 minutes later, our general manager, Sam, comes in and starts talking to me about the menu, changes they want to make, and the day’s specials. It was during that time that I started realizing all the benefits of my new role as an assistant manager. It felt like a long day, but it was such a satisfying day. The guests enjoyed the new menu and we had a lot of positive feedback. As a result, we decided to change a few things around and have an assistant manager there full-time. That was 5 years ago and things have only gotten better since then.
Being an assistant manager at a high-profile restaurant is definitely not for the faint of heart. You are responsible for a lot of people, and there is a lot of pressure to perform. However, if you keep an open mind and are willing to learn, you can become a valuable part of the restaurant team, contributing to its success, and most importantly, enjoying the work you do.