Managers from Hell: Interview with a Restauranteur
Hiring Managers from Hell:
Interview with a Hostile Restauranteur
Interview Conducted by Resumes from Hell co-author Jon Reed
Jon Reed: So, tell us about the opportunities in today's restaurant business.
Joe T Restauranteur: Jon, do you mind if I have a drink?
JR: Help yourself, it's your bar. So, you were saying…
Joe T: Well, there are four types of opportunities in the restaurant field: management, food preparation, waitstaff/bartenders, and dishwashers. I list these in ascending order of importance, and some of the benefits accruing to the top positions might surprise you.
JR: Surprise me.
Joe T: Well, one reason I put dishwashers at the top of the heap is due to their unfettered access to alcohol. Unless the restaurant has busboys, in which case they fight over the unfinished drinks.
JR: I can tell that we are going to shatter a lot of misconceptions in this interview. But your example doesn’t really speak to the kinds of long-term opportunities our readers are interested in.
Joe T: Well, you can't start in restaurant management - you have to work your way down. And if you're not good looking, that means starting with the dishes.
JR: And the drinking…
Joe T: It's important to start drinking early. You'll never fit in if you're not willing to choke down a leftover margarita. Besides, if you're not drinking, other people will think you're an IRS plant watching the tip money.
JR: So far, this interview has not presented a compelling case for this career path.
Joe T: Don't you like to drink?
JR: Let's talk about food preparation. You don't just become a head cook overnight. How do you get from point A to point B? Do you need a degree of any kind?
Joe T: In most restaurants, no degree is required, though unrelated Bachelor's Degrees and performance arts backgrounds are commonplace. As long as you have a keen sense of smell and a reasonably good clotting factor, you can work your way up, from dishwasher, to prep cook, to line cook, to chef.
JR: And what is the best way to get into restaurant management? Through the food preparation path, or through the service side of the business?
Joe T: The service side. Management personnel in restaurants have to deal with the public, and most kitchen staff just aren't that presentable.
JR: Tell us about how hiring decisions get made for service openings.
Joe T: Primarily aesthetics. Good-looking waitstaff saves a ton on interior decorating. Plus they can just wear a different top for variety.
JR: Sounds fair. So, what we've learned so far is that ugly, sober individuals have no future in the restaurant business.
Joe T: Only if they want to work as busboys. Actually, depending on the lighting, they sometimes make good bartenders.
JR: Does a cooking school degree help if you want to "climb the ladder" in the food preparation side of the biz?
Joe T: It depends entirely on the restaurant. If the menus are laminated, no. If there's a "special of the day" on the chalkboard, no. If the menus are hand-written, and the wine list is laminated, maybe.
JR: Is it true that waiting tables pays a lot more than any other "no experience required" position?
Joe T: Well, dishwashers can make good money if they deal a little something on the side.
JR: You sure have found a way to keep a positive outlook on the young people you manage. I would think you might be jealous of their youth, beauty, and future potential, and yet, you seem so understanding.
Joe T: As long as they're willing to swap a little spit in the storeroom.
JR: Seriously though, do you think it's fair that those who wait tables make so much more money than any of the other basic restaurant workers besides the head cooks? When I worked in the restaurant biz as a busboy, I busted a lot more ass than the waitstaff but only got 10% of the tips.
Joe T: Well, you don't have any tits. To further explain the economics of tipping might get me in trouble with Alan Greenspan.
JR: Well, I guess I can fall back on the fact that the cheapest waiter I ever bused tables for, Alfredo, lost his finger while cleaning the margarita machine.
Joe T: Did they throw that batch out?
JR: I'm not sure.
Joe T: That reminds me, one opportunity to make money in the restaurant industry is getting a good worker's comp claim...taking a so-called "lucky bullet." Drinking margaritas on a beach with four fingers beats serving them to customers with five.
JR: Is it really possible to succeed in today's corporate food industry as an independent restaurant, or do you need to own a Subway franchise in order to make it big?
Joe T: Well, independent restaurants serve an important role in our economy laundering drug money. That's tough to do through the big chains, what with their auditors and all.
JR: So, we have low pay, tough hours, difficult customers, and exploitive bosses. It seems that the only thing to recommend this industry is the low barrier to entry. You must take great pride in playing your part.
Joe T: I take great pride in the fact that I've never had to burn one of my own restaurants down for insurance purposes. I'm also active in seeking out and employing new Americans, or at least, people who I'm sure will become Americans the next time the government does an amnesty.
JR: Joe, you've had six drinks since we started this interview. Can you please spell the word restaurant for us?
Joe T: Umm... (Joe starts writing on a napkin) ...Well, I know how to spell "bar," and that's where we make all the money anyhow.
JR: OK then. I think it's clear that the true guide to success as a restauranteur has not yet been written. But if we've accomplished one thing in our discussion, it's the case we have made for advanced schooling and graduate programs.
Joe T: So, are you going to order something, or are you going to ask questions all night?
Have your own run-in with a "Hiring Manager from Hell?" Submit your story here.