4 Essential Qualities of Restaurant Managers

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There are some qualities that restaurant owners and managers must possess to be successful. Not everyone naturally has these qualities, but they can be learned.

The key qualities of successful restaurant managers are: leadership, attitude, flexibility and efficiency. Whether you’re a restaurant veteran or novice, this set of qualities must be honed if you want your restaurant to succeed.


Some folks in the restaurant business call themselves managers (whether they’re the owner or not) don’t really know how to manage people. We all know the old saying “lead by example” and that’s a good starting point.

Strong leadership is a cornerstone of any successful foodservice venture. You don’t want to rule with an iron fist, but you can’t be wishy-washy either.

Clearly define employees’ roles and responsibilities. And hold staff accountable. It’s human nature to deride staff members who are lagging in their tasks, however taking the approach of a true leader, you’ll use these instances as opportunities to train, not put down.

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“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower


Attitude is everything, right? Without passion, excitement, positivity and energy you can’t successfully manage a restaurant. Actually, you probably won’t find success in any industry if you don’t have the right attitude.

A leader’s positive attitude must remain steady, in good times and bad. As a restaurant manager or owner, you’ll have days when you’re frustrated or deflated. Increased commodity costs, employee turnover or a slow season can bring down even the most optimistic person. However, as the leader of your restaurant, you must remember that how you feel and the energy you project is mirrored by your employees.

If you’re not excited and passionate about your restaurant, you can’t expect your employees to be enthusiastic.

A bad attitude is like the flu… it’s contagious! Instead, give your employees a great example of a positive attitude and they will emulate you.


Flexibility is the opposite of being stubborn and stuck in your ways. Flexibility doesn’t mean changing your menu every week or giving in to demands of your staff. To succeed in the restaurant business, you need to be nimble and realistic.

Here’s an example: You love white tablecloths. You’ve had white tablecloths since you opened and you feel attached to the look. But if your linen cleaning costs increase and customers are telling you white tablecloths feel too formal, it’s time to be flexible and rethink your love for white tablecloths.

Smart restaurant managers are open to change when warranted.

Refusal to change, or fear of change, is the downfall of many restaurants. You need to understand your competition and what your community wants and be willing to make adjustments.

Clinging to ideas that are outdated or unwanted is not a recipe for success! Stay a step ahead of your competition by being flexible to the wants and needs of your prospective customers and community.


Use your time wisely! Don’t waste time on things that don’t set you apart from your competition. Inefficiency in how you run your restaurant will end up costing you time and profits. Creating processes and standards will help you become more efficient.

As a restaurateur or manager, you need to spend your time on activities that brings guests in the door and generates revenue. Anything that takes your eye off efficiency and the customer experience, is wasted energy.

Take ice machines as an example. You need them, but the time (& money) to care for them and keeping them running optimally is time away from your core business. A better solution for a restaurant’s ice needs is to outsource.

easyice_beach.jpgSpend your time and money where you can make a difference, and let Easy Ice worry about the ice machines. That’s efficient!

Flexibility, attitude, leadership and efficiency can be learned and need to be nurtured. By mastering these elemental qualities, you’ll decrease employee turnover, delight your customers and have a finely tuned operation. And that’s success!