Types of Restaurant Jobs and Titles

From chef to server, there are a lot of positions

restaurant staff
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Restaurants are important employers, especially for young people just beginning their careers, and can be major economic drivers in areas dependent on tourism. While restaurants typically hire large numbers of entry-level workers, these are not, for the most part, unskilled jobs.

Customer service skills honed in the front of the house are transferable to most other industries, and wait staff in high-end restaurants can often earn very good money in tips. And some restaurants hire for a very wide variety of positions, from highly trained chefs to administrative staff.

Restaurant Jobs Vary by Restaurant Type

The type of restaurant influences what jobs are available. A large fast-food or casual-dining chain will offer administrative, human resources, management, and marketing positions, whereas, in a small cafe or fine dining establishment, these duties are more likely to fall to the general manager, the proprietor, or even the chef.

In general, the work in restaurants is divided into back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house positions. In large chains, there is also usually a corporate location where the upper management and administration will take place.

If you're interested in working your way up at a restaurant, your chances are probably better at a chain establishment, where there are likely protocols in place for grooming and training staff for promotions.

Back-of-the-House Jobs

Back-of-the-house positions pertain to the preparation of food, as well as the dishwashing staff. Small restaurants might only have a single chef or cook. Larger places might have an entire food preparation team, including a chef, sous chef, prep cook, line cook and baker, plus a kitchen manager responsible for training, inventory and other supervisory and administrative duties.

In chain restaurant locations, the general manager will have ultimate responsibility for both the front and the back of the house, but this role usually has no direct equivalent in proprietary restaurants. 

Front-of-the-House Jobs

Front-of-the-house positions are those that deal directly with the public. These titles may include host or hostess (or maître d’, in more upscale restaurants), server (or waiter/waitress), busser (or busboy/busgirl, or back waiter), runner, and bartender.

Some restaurants have specialized roles: someone who advises diners on wine choices is a sommelier, and the manager of the cheese selection, both advising dining and supervising proper storage, is the maître d’ fromage.

Fast-food restaurants will have cashiers and drive-through operators. There may be additional supportive or managerial positions, depending on the size and complexity of the restaurant, such as shift manager, floor manager, or table captain. The responsibilities of all these positions can vary from one restaurant to another, depending on the structure of the business.

Restaurant Management Jobs

In regional or national restaurant chains, there will be an off-site corporate office which houses the upper management and their related support staff, including administrative assistants, office managers, IT specialists and cleaning crew members.

Often, there will be separate administrative, communications, human resources, research and development and marketing divisions. These positions are similar to those in the corporate office of any large company, in any industry.

The corporate office is responsible for matters that involve the entire company, or entire regional divisions within the company, such as determining marketing strategy, defining the company’s brand, and developing and enforcing company policy.