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Support staff

Support staffSome places have them, others don’t. The thing I like about different restaurants is that the structures are always different, even though service standards and steps of service fall under a similar type of blueprint (here is my personal blueprint “Steps of service – The Basics”). Also with different restaurants come different types of staff required to let that restaurant run well. Here is a list of staff that can be found in a restaurant:

  • Hosts
  • Bartenders
  • Servers
  • Cocktailers
  • Bussers
  • Expeditors (responsible for communication between FOH staff and BOH staff, also deals with ensuring food goes out to each table)
  • Food/drink runners
  • Bar-backs (bussers for the bar)
  • Dishwashers
  • Line cooks
  • Executive/head chef
  • Prep chefs
  • Sous chefs
  • Supervisors
  • Service managers
  • Bar managers
  • Marketing managers
  • AGM (Assistant general manager)
  • GM (General manager)

Now I don’t tip-out each of these staff people, but to me I feel as if all these people are my support staff, why?, because none of us could do our jobs great without having the necessary people in a restaurant. There are restaurants that can still run and do amazing business without some of the staff mentioned above (remember I was mentioning staff that “can” be found in a restaurant).

I have worked with all the above, and to me I see everyone being everyone else’s support staff. I’ll explain by going through this list:

Hosts

Without our hosts there would be no organization when it comes to seating/reservations. In smaller places there are “Please seat yourself signs” and generally servers in this kind of place will do a 1 for 1 table pickup (but then you could be serving people from one corner of the restaurant to the other from this kind of rotation). Chaos is also common without hosts, because they are well organized, have a game plan, and can turn a rush into a less than hectic scenario.

Bartenders

It’s pretty obvious what these people are for. Not only do they make the drinks which can pump up our check averages, but they (when quiet for them) can buss some tables, clean our glassware, help suggest ways of up-selling, create signature drinks that keep guests coming back, suggest wines/other drinks for guests (if you don’t have an answer for them yourself). Basically anything beverage related, they are your people.

Servers

Ummmmm well if you’re reading this, it’s probably you and you support yourself just fine.

Cocktailers

When the restaurant is full and people want to have a drink or something to snack on before they come sit in your section when a table is ready, cocktailers are generally the people who take care of them first (or the bartenders). In some occasions some guests may get a bottle of wine and when they receive it, their table is ready in the dining room so they then transfer the bill over. Please note that you should tip something to your cocktailer for their troubles (normally around 10% – 15% of what they already served the guests) providing they did the work for it.

Bussers

These people are some of the most important people to you in regards to support staff. They are responsible for helping clear your tables of all unnecessary glassware, plates, cutlery, dirty napkins, trash and resetting your tables for the next group of diners coming into your section. They can also clean spills in your section, restock server stations, and if you need an extra hand with something, can help you out with that also. These people are under-appreciated yet are responsible for you making some of the money that you do.

Expeditors

Expeditors generally don’t get a tip out, but to me they are a pretty good addition to the support staff list in some types of restaurants. They help to keep peace and order in the kitchen by being the mediator between the FOH staff and BOH staff. Any questions about how long a tables food will be can be asked to and answered by your expeditor plus other things (and not having to ask a line cook/chef about an allergy in a certain dish if you are unsure, an expeditor should have the answer for you).

Food/drink runners

Obvious to what they do, these support staff allow you to focus more on your guests without having to worry about making sure your food or drinks are ready to be taken to your tables, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on food or drink times (because as a server you are responsible for everything for your guests). It’s not uncommon either for these staff to help buss tables after they have dropped off food or drinks to your guests.

Barbacks

You may not think that these support staff affect you directly, but what if your table of 6 is waiting for someone’s bottled beer because the bar staff is too busy to restock the fridges? These support staff are pretty rare in restaurants but are more common in clubs, but like the bussers for your tables, they allow the bartenders to serve your drinks without having waste time to restock their fridges/rail/liquor supply.

Dishwashers

Dirty plates? no thanks. These hard-working people allow food/drinks go out in clean vessels. Without dishwashers you would have guest after guest sending their house salad back because of the mac n cheese still stuck to the bowl. Without them your food sales take a 100m nose dive.

Line cooks

Line cooks are the parts that make the engine run in a restaurant. Without the food what would the people come for? (probably the booze) but what would that mean for you as a server? not much in the way of tips. These people are responsible for a big part of your guests check total.

Executive/head chef

It’s their food that attracts people to the restaurant in the first place. Even if they are working in a corporate environment where everything is already laid out for them menu-wise, they still need to make sure that standards and procedures are being followed by each person in the kitchen. Indirectly they are responsible for a part of the money you make.

Prep chefs

It’s the same as coming in for a dinner shift and having a restocked service station with napkins, tablecloths, roll-ups, polished cutlery, condiments, take-out containers, and more. These people help the line cooks by having everything they need ready for them to put the meals from the menu together.

Sous chef

Whenever the king or queen of the kitchen isn’t around (Executive/head chef) to make sure things are running smoothly, then the sous chef takes over and runs the show in the back.

Supervisors

There’s different classifications of supervisors, you can have a server who is given supervisor privileges for voiding/comping/dealing with issues. You can have supervisors who are part-time and don’t get all the privileges the regular management team do, but still oversee that things run well in the restaurant. There are managers in training who start out as supervisors until they have worked a required number of hours, then they can become management. These people should be able to help you at any given moment in the restaurant.

Service managers

Mainly found in corporate restaurants, service managers are there to focus on the service team. They are responsible for hiring, ensuring that training is carried out properly, testing, scheduling, and are an important part of continuous training and motivation for the service team. They have your back for sure.

Bar managers

Though you don’t really have much “support” directly from the bar manager, you have to remember that without the drink options for your tables your check totals would have to survive off food. Now even if they weren’t there then yes, there still would be drinks to serve, but if you have an unorganized bar that is always out of stock of key products, then it can be really frustrating having to tell your tables that you are out of 8 of the 20 wines on the list.


Marketing managers

Like some other types of managers, marketing managers are normally found in corporate restaurants, when they are around they work hard to bring business into the restaurant you work in. I have worked with marketing managers before and although some of their tactics work really well, there are others I don’t agree on (mainly because it’s meant just to bring people in with free offers, this normally attracts people who, well, come in for free things and thus takes up a servers/bartenders time with making little to no money for serving them). This isn’t always the case, but there are things that the marketing manager does that brings in more business than usual.

AGM (Assistant general manager)

Much like the sous chef above, the AGM is in charge of the entire restaurants operation when the GM is not around. Like a manager (but with more super powers) AGM’s in my opinion should know how to do every staff members job. I’m a firm believer that a hands on manager is the best kind of manager.

GM (General manager)

This here is the captain of the ship , the sultan of the restaurant, the fearless leader, the Grand Poobah, the…. (you get it). The general manager essentially is the person who is responsible for absolutely everything. Just like any other manager, I think the GM should know how to do each and every staff members job in the restaurant. The GM coordinates with all other managers and makes sure that everything is being executed properly, targets are being met, staff morale is great, budgets are being exceeded, relationships with guests and suppliers remain good, strategies for business are being implemented and much, much more. You wouldn’t have a job if this person wasn’t around.

I have mentioned a lot of people here and as the title of this blog post says “Support staff” you may be thinking:

“Why did you mention all of these people Nathan?” 

A restaurant runs like an engine, you need all the necessary parts for it to run smoothly and efficiently. If one aspect of the restaurant begins to fail, then others begin to suffer because of it. I believe that every different job title in the restaurant supports and is supported by every other department.

A great team is what makes a great restaurant.

As a server we may think of support staff as our hosts, bussers, food/drink runners and bartenders, because these are the people that we normally tip-out. But in reality every person who works with you in some way is your support staff, and you are theirs.

Think about everyone you work with, then think about what it would be like to work if their position wasn’t there.

Thank you, have a great day, and be nice to your restaurant team 🙂

Nathan.

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