There are several categories of personnel in the restaurant business: managers, cooks, servers, buspersons, dishwashers, hosts and bartenders. Each has a specific function and contributes to the operation of the restaurant. When your restaurant is still new, you may find that some of the duties will cross over from one category to another. For example, the manager may double as the host, and servers may also bus tables. In a very small operation, you and your family may assume some of these roles. Because of this, be sure to hire people who express a willingness to be flexible in their duties.
Your payroll costs, including your own salary and that of your managers, should be about 25 to 35 percent of your total gross sales. If payroll costs are more than 35 percent of gross sales, you should look for ways to either cut those costs or increase sales.
Finding the right serving staff is just as important as finding the right manager. The servers are the people with whom your customers will have the most interaction, so they must make a favorable impression to keep customers coming back. Servers must be able to work well under pressure, meeting the demands of customers at several tables while maintaining a positive and pleasant demeanor.
As the job title implies, dishwashers keep clean dishes available in your restaurant. You can probably get by with two part-time dishwashers, one working the lunch shift and the second covering the dinner shift. If you’re open for breakfast, you can go with either one full-time and one part-time person or three part-time dishwashers. Expect to pay minimum wage to minimum wage plus $1.50 an hour.
When you start out, you’ll probably need three cooks — two full-time and one part-time. One of the full-time cooks should work days, and the other should work evenings. The part-time cook will help during peak hours, such as weekend rushes, and can work as a line cook, doing simple preparation, during slower periods. The full-time cooks can also take care of food preparation before the restaurant opens, during slow times and after the restaurant closes.