What is a Restaurant Director of Operations? Three Experts Weigh In

The restaurant business strikes quick. If you happen to don’t lookup each occasionally, you would possibly simply miss the most recent traits in staffing and visitor behaviors, or ways in which different restaurateurs are growing effectivity of their enterprise. With the ever-evolving traits and adjustments to the hospitality business, it’s change into a full-time job simply to handle all.

One thing we’re more and more seeing within the business among the many most profitable eating places is a task that you just’d historically see in a serious company: director of operations. this function has popped up throughout the business—all over the place from two-location eating places to 30-plus location teams—and we have been curious to seek out out why operations roles are so vital. 

That’s why we requested three masters of restaurant operations to present us some perception into: 

Representing eating places throughout the nation, our operations consultants supplied completely different views from restaurant teams large and small.

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This information will stroll you thru the future-proof restaurant techniques that’ll add flexibility to your enterprise—a key to thriving within the new world of hospitality.


How did you get your begin within the restaurant business?

Cunningham: I began working at a espresso store in Nashville 10 years in the past. I actually favored eating places as a result of the methods made sense to me, so I suckered my boss into giving me a chance. I created a place the place I used to be overseeing schooling and high quality for all 5 places and began studying concerning the restaurant enterprise, methods to value out objects, prices and overhead labor.

Throughout my subsequent job, I began studying the arduous stuff like payroll, invoicing, and different day-to-day issues that maintain the enterprise on monitor financially. Now at Keep Golden, I’m dialing in methods and operations for 2 places.

Simon: I’ve labored within the restaurant business for over 20 years. I began as a server and bartender and finally labored my method up into administration earlier than graduating from school. From there, I joined a franchise restaurant group primarily based out of the New York Metro space for a big corporate-casual restaurant chain. I managed every day operations there for 4 years earlier than being promoted to a regional coaching administration function, the place my most important focus was opening up 15 of our restaurant places

I used to be later promoted to director of personnel and growth and labored alongside govt and administration groups to work on coaching and growth features. Ultimately, that led me again into an operations function as director of operations for the 20 places we operated. After 12 years with that restaurant group, I used to be provided a chance with my present group as chief working officer. 

Brilliant: I used to be working as a bartender in school and after commencement, a administration path was deliberate out for me at Meals Combat. Now, I’m the operations supervisor for eight of the 20 eating places within the group. 


What qualities do you assume homeowners and managers ought to search for in hiring an operations function?

Cunningham: I believe there are three large issues to search for. First, they need to be a self-starter. They want to have the ability to be given a imaginative and prescient or purpose exterior of only a job description. Usually, restaurant homeowners aren’t actually current on the ground, in order that they want to have the ability to belief somebody. The second vital high quality is very high-level communication expertise, and so they additionally need to be very organized. There are such a lot of shifting items in a restaurant. 

Simon: Skillset is extraordinarily vital, but it surely makes a giant distinction if somebody actually understands hospitality. We see plenty of nice candidates and are lucky to work with some nice management in our group that really impresses this upon the groups working our eating places. Integrity is one other high quality that has made the entire distinction in our success. Coaching somebody to make the best choices the entire time, not simply when somebody is wanting, is one thing we glance to do as properly.

Brilliant: You need to have an immense quantity of confidence in your data base. One other vital high quality is understanding that each enterprise is a relationship enterprise. I keep centered on constructing relationships over time and know that nothing else issues if I don’t have that piece. The work you’re actually doing is constructing relationships along with your workers, serving to them construct relationships with their friends, after which ensuring that your meals and beverage is at a top quality.

You need to have sturdy monetary acuity and you must know meals and beverage, however for those who’re not constructing the connection along with your groups, for those who’re not simply downside fixing, and utilizing these expertise, you’re not going to be tremendous profitable.


What does a typical day appear to be for somebody in an operations function?

Cunningham: Every single day is completely different. It’s completely different season-to-season and proper now we’re engaged on constructing our non-public occasions enterprise. So I’ve a give attention to one large-scale purpose, then my days differ primarily based on the present wants of the restaurant. Usually, that’s fixing main factors of friction in our operations which can be slowing down workers or inflicting negativity. 

Simon: Our administrators of operations are anticipated to function at a excessive stage. The place requires a multi-unit skilled particular person who understands the P&L and working throughout the parameters of budgets. This place is liable for every day communication throughout many groups (accounting, operations, human assets, and govt administration). They’re in the end liable for making certain that stock and ordering is completed with integrity on the retailer stage. They interview, rent, prepare and handle new administration. Additionally they are concerned within the native retailer advertising initiatives, making certain we’re working throughout the parameters of protected service, of each meals and alcohol. Most significantly, a director of operations ought to be creating the groups from inside in order that we will proceed to develop with gifted, seasoned management.

Brilliant: None of my days are typical. We actually deal with our operations managers as a type of a CEO of their very own group. I bounce round between eight eating places, so I’ll be coping with advertising for one restaurant whereas additionally making an attempt to dial in on a labor price difficulty at one other restaurant. I do guarantee that I really get to work with administration groups and our govt cooks on daily basis as a result of that’s the half that’s really enjoyable and rewarding.

A woman with short hair and glasses sits on a black couch with her laptop on her lap. She's laughing and looking at someone off camera to her right.


What worth do you consider operations roles carry to a restaurant?

Cunningham: I believe it’s useful for common managers to know that they’ve one level of contact. As a enterprise accomplice and someone who’s overseeing each places, I’m clearly extremely within the restaurant succeeding and rising. Even in our metropolis, East Nashville has a special market than our Sidco location. It’s so bizarre as a result of they’re solely two and a half miles aside, but it surely’s a very completely different demographic. In my function, I’m ready to have a look at each places and strategize as a result of I’ve data coming at me from each places, and I do know what every location wants. 

Simon: There’s a nice worth to having operators in a number of places. There’s a broader view and there’s the power to efficiently prepare, coach, and develop your crew and provides them profession paths which can be out there exterior their very own house location. The communication and sharing of finest practices make this function vital to the success of particular person places however in the end, it helps to develop the enterprise.

Brilliant: I’m in a position to determine inconsistencies throughout my eating places. Routinely issues come up that I do not know methods to clear up, but it surely occurs so typically, fairly assured I’m going to determine a approach to clear up it or discover somebody that may assist me clear up it.


What varieties of challenges do restaurant administrators of operations face?

Cunningham: There are all the time large job lists. There may be all the time the entire logistics. There are all the time issues that should be accomplished. On the finish of the day, I believe my points as a director of operations are the identical as common managers and the identical as shift leaders. Folks will all the time be our best asset and infrequently our best burden. I don’t imply that in a nasty method, however for those who’re making an attempt to deal with your folks properly, they work arduous, you make them really feel valued, their voice is heard and issues like that—even in that state of affairs, issues can go flawed.

Even while you’re working arduous to do all the pieces properly and be sure you have a wholesome tradition, issues nonetheless occur. The realm the place I’m spending most of my time: making an attempt to ensure we’re doing enterprise properly and caring for our crew.

Simon: We function eight completely different ideas throughout three states, so the problem in maintaining operations as streamlined as doable is vital for us as a restaurant group. As we proceed to develop and add to our workforce, it is going to be vital to have one of the best know-how out there to us so we’re in a position to make one of the best use of our time and assets.

Brilliant: The labor market because it sits proper now could be an attention-grabbing problem. Discovering and hiring expertise—particularly in our market—hasn’t been the simplest factor within the final two years. I believe it’s challenged us to recommit to creating one of the best work atmosphere within the business. There’s loads of work to be accomplished, however I believe we’ve devoted ourselves to discovering some options to it and that’s paying off.

Three men sit at a bistro table on a restaurant's patio. They have notebooks and laptops in front of them. Other tables filled with guests are in the background.


What it takes to change into a restaurant director of operations

Primarily based on the experiences of our three restaurant administrators of operations, here’s a abstract of what it takes to make it on this place.

Restaurant director of operations job description

  • Should be a self-starter 
  • Excessive stage of communication expertise
  • Extraordinarily organized
  • Ardour for offering top-notch hospitality to friends
  • Integrity to make the best choices for the restaurant, workers and friends
  • Confidence in your data of the business
  • Downside-solving and relationship constructing expertise
  • Means to strategize primarily based on buyer demographics
  • Means to handle a number of initiatives without delay
  • Means to efficiently prepare and coach a crew
  • Means to determine inconsistencies throughout eating places

Restaurant director of operations obligations 

  • Determine issues within the day-to-day operations and methods to repair them
  • Handle day-to-day operations whereas additionally working towards long-term enterprise objectives
  • Determine earnings and losses and function throughout the parameters of budgets
  • Day by day communication throughout many groups (accounting, operations, human assets and govt administration)
  • Interview, rent, prepare and handle new supervisors and managers
  • Develop the crew and supply paths for development throughout the firm
  • Preserve firm tradition and workers morale
  • Hold operations as streamlined as doable
  • Perceive key income drivers and determine any room for enchancment
  • Make choices on methods to function the enterprise from each a visitor and monetary standpoint

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Cyndy Lane

Cyndy is business journalist with a focus on entrepreneurship and small business. With over a decade of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Cyndy has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, insightful and approachable journalist. She has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners and is able to explain them in a way that is relatable and actionable for her readers.