Learn the importance of each position in a restaurant, their key roles and responsibilities, and get a glimpse at their average salaries.
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As someone who worked in restaurants for over ten years, I’ve had the opportunity to work in multiple restaurant positions.
I worked in both front and back-of-house roles as a server, assistant general manager, host, bartender, pastry cook, and pastry chef.
And I’ll tell you this: it’s definitely not boring.
There are many positions in a restaurant, and each one has very different responsibilities, all of which are crucial to the success of the business.
In this article, I’m going over 20 restaurant positions you’re likely to find in the hospitality industry, along with their average salaries.
Note: The average salaries I’ve provided are just an estimate. They may not include tips and will vary based on city, state, and restaurant type.
In restaurant lingo, front-of-house staff refers to anyone who works in areas visible by guests or the front of the restaurant. These areas include the dining room, bar, foyer, and patio.
The general manager, commonly referred to as the GM, is like the head coach. They’re responsible for managing all day-to-day restaurant operations and need to work collaboratively with all team members to make sure the restaurant runs smoothly.
They’re responsible for hiring servers, hosts, and bussers, creating employee schedules and training programs, and ensuring customer satisfaction and standards of service.
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A GM’s life becomes a lot easier when they use the right tools for the job. Connecteam, a dedicated employee management software, was built for employee scheduling, tracking time worked, running payroll, communicating with staff, and lots more – all from one simple-to-use app.
The GM is also responsible for managing finances, payroll, and brainstorming new ideas for business growth.
Average salary: $60,000/year
Assistant general manager
Every team needs a captain, and this is where the assistant general manager, or AGM, comes into play. The AGM supports the GM’s vision, is responsible for staffing the restaurant and leading the team, and handles day-to-day decisions and challenges. The GM may hand off responsibilities, such as scheduling and reservation management, to the AGM.
⭐ Fun Fact:
As the Assistant General Manager at Blackbird restaurant in Chicago, one of my key challenges was ensuring that all front-of-house staff, including servers and bartenders, were always up-to-date with menu changes. This was crucial to prevent any misinformation about menu items to our guests when the chef made changes to dishes.
We didn’t have an efficient communication system in place, which made this increasingly difficult because our staff all worked different shifts (this was 6 years ago, so options were limited). An employee communication app, like Connecteam, would have been incredibly helpful for providing real-time updates to everyone at once.
Average salary: $52,575/year
The bar manager is responsible for all things bar-related: hiring and training bartenders and barbacks, managing inventory and ordering supplies, creating the bar menu, ensuring finances are kept in check, and delivering quality customer service to bar guests.
Average salary: $55,000/year
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A catering manager specializes in managing events and catering operations within a restaurant or as a part of its services. They coordinate menus, manage staff for events, coordinate with clients with clients, and oversee the execution of events.
Average salary: $59,994/year
Other Front of House Staff
Often referred to as waiters or waitresses, servers are responsible for taking customer orders, inputting orders into the POS system, serving food to guests, clearing tables after meals, and handling payments. They’re the customers’ point of contact while dining in the restaurant and play a huge role in guest satisfaction.
Average salary: $30,198/year
🧠 Did You Know?
Servers have more interaction with customers than any other restaurant position. Therefore, it’s crucial to create an effective employee training program so servers can provide the best hospitality possible. After all, 61% of customers switch to a competitor after a bad customer service experience.
The bartender mixes drinks, pours beers, and serves them to customers. They’re also responsible for providing full service to customers sitting at the bar. Knowledgeable bartenders can enhance guests’ experiences by making excellent cocktails and recommending food pairings.
Average salary: $29,335/year
Sommeliers are trained wine professionals and typically work in fine dining establishments. They specialize in all aspects of wine service, including wine and food pairing, and often have a deep understanding of wine production, regions, and varieties.
Average salary: $60,000/year
Hosts can set the tone for a customer’s entire experience because they provide the first impression when guests walk through the door. Hosts greet guests, answer phone calls, take reservations, sort out reservation issues, relay customer notes to servers, and take guests to their tables after they enter.
Average salary: $27,300/year
Bussers, or server assistants, work collaboratively with servers to make sure dirty dishes are picked up as soon as possible. They are also responsible for wiping down and resetting tables when guests leave. They may also provide additional cutlery for guests eating multiple courses.
Average salary: $27,300/year
Food runners are responsible for delivering food from the kitchen to guests’ tables quickly and efficiently. They ensure that guests receive their meals as intended by the kitchen staff.
Average salary: $23,536/year
Baristas usually work in coffee shops and prepare and serve a variety of coffee and espresso drinks. They also engage with customers, provide service and guidance on menu selections, and are responsible for maintaining a clean and welcoming café environment.
Average salary: $29,250/year
While the front-of-house staff deals with the customers in the dining room, the back-of-house team, or kitchen staff, creates the product: food.
The executive chef is the top-ranking chef of the kitchen and may be responsible for overseeing multiple kitchens if they work for a restaurant group or hotel. Given the large scope of their responsibilities, their duties may be more strategic and managerial and less hands-on.
Typically, the executive chef manages menu planning and creating new dishes, staff coordination, budgeting, and liaising with suppliers. They also play a significant role in the branding and culinary direction of the business.
Average salary: $75,000/year
Chef de cuisine
If a restaurant has a chef de cuisine, it’s likely an upscale restaurant with a large culinary team. Their scope of responsibilities is narrower than an executive chef, although the two will work together closely.
The chef de cuisine manages the day-to-day operations of the kitchen, manages the sous chef and cooks, preps food for service, creates dishes and tests recipes, manages inventory, makes sure everyone shows up on time, and creates schedules.
Average salary: $72,500/year
The sous chef supports the chef de cuisine’s culinary vision. Their responsibilities may include working the line during service, managing inventory, supervising cooks, and scheduling and training employees.
Average salary: $51,831/year
🧠 Did You Know?
Ever heard of an expeditor, or expo, for short?
This restaurant position calls out orders to the cooks and is responsible for ensuring an efficient flow of service. They’re tasked with keeping track of which items are ready and making sure each food item in an order is ready at the same time.
At most restaurants, one of the head chefs usually acts as the expo during service because it’s such a crucial role.
The pastry chef handles all things sweet and is responsible for creating an innovative and inventive dessert menu. They may also be responsible for baking fresh bread every day for lunch sandwiches or bread baskets.
Pastry chefs are responsible for administrative tasks, too, like managing, hiring, and scheduling pastry cooks as well as taking inventory and ordering products for their department.
Average salary: $48,750/year
Some restaurants hire a kitchen manager to oversee the overall operations of the kitchen. They ensure food quality, manage inventory, and maintain health and safety standards. They often handle the scheduling, and training of kitchen staff, and may collaborate with the head chef on menu development.
Average salary: $50,000/year
Other Back-of-House Staff
Line cooks work specific stations in a kitchen, preparing ingredients and assembling dishes according to the restaurant’s recipes and standards. They are essential in ensuring that food is cooked and presented efficiently during service.
Average salary: $33,150/year
Pastry cooks are the line cooks of the dessert world. They’re the artists behind the sweet endings to a meal, working under the guidance of a pastry chef. They prep and bake everything from pastries to desserts and may specialize in areas like dessert plating or pre-service food preparation.
Average salary: $37,050/year
📚 This Might Interest You:
Like most businesses, restaurants rely on teamwork. Check out our list of the best team management apps to streamline communication, scheduling, task assignment, and overall coordination to ensure smooth restaurant operations.
The prep cook is responsible for preparing ingredients for dishes before they are cooked. This includes chopping vegetables, butchering meat, and prepping sauces, ensuring everything is ready for the line cooks during busy service times.
Average salary: $31,200
Dishwashers maintain the cleanliness of the kitchen by washing dishes, utensils, and cooking equipment. They also help keep the kitchen area clean and may assist in basic food prep tasks.
Average salary: $29,250
Fast food cook
A fast food cook specializes in preparing and cooking a variety of quick-service foods, often working in a fast-paced environment like a fast food restaurant.
Average salary: $26,325/year
What is the best position to work in a restaurant?
There’s really no one-size-fits-all job in a restaurant; it really depends on what kind of work you prefer and what you’re good at. If you love chatting with people and can handle a busy atmosphere, you would probably prefer a front-of-house position, like a host or a server.
But if you’re all about cooking and getting creative with flavors, then a spot in the kitchen, like being a chef or line cook, could be a perfect fit.
What are the highest-paid positions in a restaurant?
The highest-paid positions in a restaurant are typically the executive chef and general manager. Both have major responsibilities of overseeing the kitchen’s culinary direction and the overall management of the restaurant.
Sommeliers, especially in high-end establishments, are also usually paid higher salaries due to their specialized knowledge of wine and food pairings.
What is the hierarchy of roles in a restaurant?
The hierarchy typically starts with the general manager or owner at the top, overseeing the entire restaurant. In the kitchen, the hierarchy is led by the executive chef, followed by the chef de cuisine, the sous chef, and then the line and prep cooks.
For the front-of-house, the structure usually includes the general manager and assistant manager, followed by supervisors, servers, hosts, and support staff like bussers and food runners.
Wrapping Up: Understanding the Essential Roles of a Restaurant’s Success
A solid team keeps your restaurant up and running. Every position, from the bustling kitchen to the dynamic front-of-house, plays a pivotal role in creating an unforgettable dining experience.
Whether it’s the precision of the chefs, the warmth of the servers, or the diligence of the support staff, each role contributes to the success of the business.