Guide to College Majors in Restaurant Management

Did You Know?
"Restaurant" comes from the Latin verb restaurare, meaning "to restore or repair."
As early as the 18th century, public houses offering food displayed the following Latin invitation over their doors: Venite ad me omnes qui stomacho lavoratoratis et ego restaurabo vos. It means "Come to me, all whose stomachs cry out in anguish, and I shall restore you."

What Is Restaurant Management?


Restaurant managers are responsible for the day-to-day details of operating restaurants and other establishments that prepare and serve meals and beverages to customers. This includes overseeing the kitchen, dining room, and banquet operations; maintaining positive customer relations and creating appealing menu options; watching inventory and ordering food, equipment, and supplies; and ensuring the restaurant is regularly repaired and maintained. The restaurant manager is also responsible for the administrative and human resources functions such as hiring and firing of staff, training, and staff evaluations.

In larger restaurants, the management team consists of a general manager, one or more assistant managers, and an executive chef. One of the most important tasks of food service managers is assisting the chef in selecting successful menu items and daily or weekly specials. Managers and executive chefs analyze recipes to determine food, labor, and overhead costs and to assign prices to various dishes. Menus must be developed far enough in advance that supplies can be ordered and received in time from distributors. To minimize food costs and spoilage, many managers use inventory-tracking software to compare the record of sales with a record of the current inventory.

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What Do Restaurant Managers Do?

As a restaurant manager you must be a good communicator, motivating your employees to work as a team, to ensure that food and service meet appropriate standards. Health and safety standards need to be rigorously maintained, and your staff must fully participate in keeping the work environment safe and clean. You and your staff are also required to run the business legally, paying close attention to seating limits, hours of operation, and drinking age restrictions.

In addition to your regular duties, you could perform a variety of administrative assignments, such as keeping employee work records, preparing payroll, and completing paperwork to comply with licensing laws and reporting requirements of tax, wage and hour, unemployment compensation, and Social Security laws. This work may be delegated to an assistant manager or bookkeeper or contracted out, but most general managers retain responsibility for the accuracy of business records. Managers also maintain records of supply and equipment purchases and ensure bills are paid.

Career training in restaurant management can help you advance to positions at better restaurants, hotels or catering companies. A degree in restaurant management can teach you how to use the technology used to track orders, control inventory, seat patrons and enter actual food and drink orders through the point-of-service (POS) system. Computers also allow you to efficiently keep track of employee schedules and payroll. Savvy restaurant managers can use the Internet to stay updated on industry trends and innovations, get recipe ideas, and advertise.

Career Education in Restaurant & Culinary Management

A restaurant management or culinary management degree fills in the necessary skills that on-the-job experience alone can't provide. Two- and four-year programs can provide instruction in subjects such as nutrition, sanitation, and food planning and preparation, as well as accounting, business law and management, and computer science. Some degree programs combine classroom and laboratory study with internships to provide on-the-job experience. Online degrees and career training programs in restaurant management are gaining popularity with working adults who can't take the time to attend a traditional school. Students can't learn to cook online, but they can learn to manage accounts and master new software.

Bachelor's Degrees in Restaurant Management

A bachelor's degree in restaurant and food service management provides particularly strong preparation for a career in this occupation. A Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management consists of liberal arts, business, and specialized courses in technical applications. The courses combine theory and skill development with an emphasis on practical work experience.

A bachelor's degree completion program is designed for working culinary professionals who have an associate's degree in culinary arts. You'll study business courses such as human resource management, accounting, hospitality law and ethics. Courses in marketing, customer service, communication and leadership will help you develop critical thinking and interpersonal skills.

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What Can You Do With a College Major in Restaurant Management?

Many experienced food and beverage preparation and service workers are promoted into managerial positions; however, applicants with a bachelor's or an associate degree in restaurant and institutional food service management should have better job opportunities.

Employment in food service management is expected to see average growth through 2012. Most new jobs will appear in full-service restaurants and limited-service establishments as the population increases. Food service manager jobs are expected to increase more slowly in hotels, schools, and healthcare facilities, as contracting these services out becomes more common.

Job opportunities should be better for salaried managers than for self-employed managers (who want to open their own restaurants). The trend is for new restaurants to be affiliated with national chains rather than an independent owner and operator. As this trend continues, fewer owners manage restaurants themselves, so more restaurant managers will be employed by large companies to run individual establishments.

Most restaurant chains and food service management companies have rigorous training programs for management positions which cover their own policies on food preparation, nutrition, sanitation, security, company procedures, personnel management, recordkeeping, and reporting on the restaurant's computer system.

The Life of a Restaurant Manager

Restaurant managers put in long hours--generally 50 or more per week. They can be the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night. Managers of institutional food service facilities, such as school, factory, or office cafeterias, work more regular hours because the operating hours usually conform to the operating hours of the business or facility they serve. A willingness to relocate may be essential for advancement to positions with greater responsibility. Managers typically advance to larger establishments or regional management positions within restaurant chains. Some eventually open their own restaurants.

Certification, Licensure and Associations


Certification has become more common as the restaurant industry moves toward increased professionalism and more uniform service standards. Although it's not required for employment or advancement in the occupation, voluntary certification provides recognition of your professional competence, particularly if you've acquired most of your skills largely on the job.

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation grants two forms of individual credentials.

  1. The first is the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) designation, which requires assessments, including examinations and an evaluation of education and/or experience.
  2. The second credential is a Certificate of Course Completion that verifies the learner has successfully completed courses in food service management topics.

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