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Restaurant Job Titles and Positions Explained

a photo of a restaurant manager holding a clipboard in front of some tables

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If you want business to run smoothly, you need to understand restaurant job titles and positions. Learning about all the common types of staff at a restaurant will help you find good employees and assign tasks appropriately. Depending on the type of restaurant you run, you may need one or more of these employee types.

This article is one of many that we’ll be posting this month to help new restaurant operators find their bearings in the food service industry.

Managers

Managers delegate duties to other staff members and make sure they carry out their tasks correctly. They are responsible for running the restaurant well, so owners need to think carefully before selecting a manager. Often, management is not a one-person job. Many restaurants split the managerial work across several shifts and roles.

Typically, the general manager oversees the operation of the restaurant, hiring employees and tackling big-picture jobs like marketing and pricing strategies. The assistant manager may take on some managerial duties that the general manager might not have time for, like employee scheduling. Some larger eateries and fine dining restaurants may also have a kitchen manager, who exclusively manages kitchen staff. This is one of the more complicated restaurant roles since it requires culinary knowledge as well as management skills.

Front of House Staff

Front of house (FOH) staff includes all the employees who work directly with the customers. Every restaurant, from a fast food café to a fine dining establishment, relies on front of house staff for all the day-to-day work. (Unless your restaurant is a ghost kitchen! Ghost kitchens are the exception to this rule.) The type of front of house staff you need will depend on your business. Below, let’s look at a few different restaurant job titles and positions that fit into this category.

Host

The host or hostess is often the first person guests see when they come into a restaurant. Hosts work in most sit-down restaurants. They have many tasks, including:

  • Answering phone calls
  • Creating seating charts
  • Assigning guests to tables as they become available
  • Managing guests’ reservations
  • Giving take-out orders to guests
  • Alerting servers to help guests who need special accommodations

Bartender

The bartender’s job might seem self-explanatory, but this type of restaurant employee does a lot more than just serve drinks. A bartender needs to have knowledge of the wines, beers, and other drinks offered by the business. They are usually responsible for maintaining the bar area, which includes setup, cleaning, and general tidying. In addition to serving drinks at the bar, bartenders often make the mixed drinks servers take to tables. They may also take orders and serve food for guests who dine at the bar.

Server

A server is one of the most essential restaurant job titles and positions. Any restaurant where people sit down inside will need at least a few servers to keep things running smoothly. Here are a few of the many tasks that servers perform:

  • Preparing tables for new parties
  • Taking guests’ orders
  • Filling drink orders and bringing drinks to the table
  • Relaying customers’ orders to the kitchen
  • Alerting the kitchen to any allergies
  • Providing customers with their meals
  • Bringing food from the kitchen to the table

Busser

The bussers are the cleanup crew of a restaurant. Anytime a party finishes eating, bussers will clear away their empty dishes and take them to the kitchen for cleaning. Bussers will wipe up tables after each diner, and they may also help to clean up spills from the floors.

Cashier

In fast food and fast casual restaurants, cashiers may take over many of the roles traditionally associated with servers. Some of the tasks a cashier may do include:

  • Taking customers’ orders
  • Making menu recommendations
  • Accepting payment and making change for customers
  • Filling customers’ drink orders

Kitchen Staff

Next up in our overview of restaurant job titles and positions: kitchen staff. The kitchen is where the food’s prepared, so it’s often the heart and the soul of a restaurant. Without a smoothly operating kitchen, it’s hard to keep customers happy. Whether your restaurant cooks everything in house or reheats meals prepared off-site, you’ll need some combination of kitchen staff.

Executive Chef or Head Chef

An executive chef is the lead chef who oversees the general direction of the kitchen, creates menus, and manages other kitchen staff. A head chef has most of the same responsibilities in a restaurant without an executive chef, except for final decisions on such matters as staffing and the direction of the menu. An executive or head chef requires extensive culinary experience and the ability to work in high-pressure environments.

Sous Chef

Sous chefs are necessary in larger restaurants and fine dining establishments. They are second in command to the main chef. Sous chefs assist with meal preparation as well as the more complicated parts of planning meals for a restaurant. They also step in when the chef is out for the day.

Prep Cook

Prep cooks are responsible for preparation. This can be a lot more than just chopping up ingredients before the dinner rush. Often, prep cooks will handle foods like soups or roasts that must be cooked slowly for hours before the meal is served.

Line Cook

A line cook is a type of cook that works in a specific part of the kitchen. They may handle orders on a certain piece of equipment, like the grill or the deep fryer. Line cooks work under the direction of other chefs, so they need to work well as part of a team.

Short-Order Cook

Short-order cooks handle smaller, quicker orders. Instead of elaborate meals like stews and roasts, a short order cook handles light food like salads, sandwiches, and burgers. If your restaurant is a café or brunch spot, this type of cook can be essential.

Fast-Food Cook

As the name implies, this type of cook is essential for handling any quick-service restaurant. They usually only need to be able to follow a brief menu. However, they need to be able to cook large amounts of orders quickly and properly.

Dishwasher

The dishwashers handle all sorts of dishes, including both serving ware and cookware. This can be a physically demanding, fast-paced job. However, it is absolutely essential, since a lack of clean dishes can cause a huge backlog in order fulfillment.

Miscellaneous Restaurant Job Titles and Positions

In addition to the main categories of restaurant jobs, there are all sorts of other positions that you might need to fill. Some other types of jobs you may want to look into for your restaurant include:

  • Bookkeepers
  • Maintenance staff
  • Sommelier
  • Drive-through operator
  • Food runner
  • Bar back
  • Barista
  • Pastry chef

As you can see, there’s a lot of variety in restaurant job titles and positions! Some businesses can benefit from having a huge range of chefs and sommeliers, while others may need to prioritize drive-thru operators. To staff the right amount of workers for your business, whatever type of restaurant you run, check out TimeForge. Our sales forecasting tools can help you optimize your labor and reduce your labor spend.

If you found this post useful, you might also enjoy our explanation of restaurant terms and lingo.

Have a topic you’d like us to write about? Let us know!

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