Restaurant careers require passion and dedication regardless if you work in the FOH or BOH. When it comes to moving to the next level, you’ll need more than just hard work and the ability to spend twelve hours a day on your feet. Here are some action items to help you climb the ladder of success.


Be Reliable

Showing up to work with a consistent, positive attitude and genuine friendliness to guests and your team goes a long way. When your boss, coworkers, and customers want to be around you, it can give you a leg up when moving to a position with more responsibility.

Be a Team Player

As the saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Successful restaurants rely on their teams to work together. Set yourself up as a team player and raise the performance of everybody around you. When you can, pick up the slack for your team, like when your coworker was just triple sat with a 10 top or they need a shift covered because s/he is sick. These actions will help you gain the trust of your coworkers while showing your boss you’re dependable. Plus, you’ll learn to work well with your team which is helpful when you move into a leadership position.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T Others

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it." Being drama-free and avoiding restaurant gossip will help you earn the respect of your coworkers. If/when your role requires you to manage others, there will be times when you need your team to do things they may not like (e.g., close and then open the restaurant 8 hours later). While your team may not love every task, if you are seen as trustworthy and are an advocate for them, then they will be there for you when you need them.

Keep Your Cool

“[A] safe harbor is a state of mind to which one goes in times of trouble.” Learning to keep your cool in stressful situations will show your team that they can turn to you for help when they need it the most (e.g., during the nightly storm that is the 8:30 push). Being recognized as a leader who is able to take charge in the face of chaos will get you noticed by your boss and respected by your coworkers. 

Take Initiative

Take a breath and a step back to think about what you want out of your current position as well as your career. Then be proactive and solicit feedback on what you should work on from your manager and others you respect. Then incorporate their input -- both positive and constructive -- in how you approach your day-to-day actions. Also, if you see a problem in the restaurant, present a solution when telling your manager about the issue. Then go above and beyond by volunteering to take on additional responsibilities and when you are given extra tasks, knock them out of the park.

Be Direct

Your boss isn’t a mind reader and can’t help you if s/he doesn’t know that you’re interested in growing your responsibilities. Sometimes the last hurdle keeping you from a job promotion may be the fact that the only person who knows you want more responsibility is you.

Be a Knowledge Sponge

Learn as much as you can, both on and off the job. Ask to cross-train in different areas of the restaurant. Becoming knowledgeable in more than one role will give you more perspective on the big picture of restaurant operations and more indispensable. Subscribe to industry publications, listen to podcasts and keep up with the latest news.