12 Necessary Skills for New Restaurant Employees to Learn

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If you were to ask a successful person what their first-ever job was, there’s a high chance they started working in a restaurant. Whether it’s your first job or not, working in a restaurant helps you develop a uniquely adaptable skillset that can prepare you for more than just waiting tables.

New Restaurant Employees

Whether you work as a server, host, busboy, bartender, sous chef, line cook, prep cook, dishwasher, or restaurant manager, you’ll need to possess a range of skills that allows you to effectively and efficiently work in a boisterous, fast-paced, and often unpredictable environment. 

1. Learn Fast

Steakhouse, coffee shop, sushi buffet, or pizzeria, a staff’s workday at any restaurant is fast-paced. To be able to work in a restaurant, you’ll have to be able to learn just as fast.

There is a ton to learn as a new restaurant employee. In a very short amount of time, you’ll need to be well-versed in the menu items and ingredients, your coworkers and their positions, the basic operations of the restaurant, the locations of various supplies, and more.

2. Basic Food Safety Knowledge

Whether you’re a chef, server, busboy, or somewhere in between, you should have at least a basic grasp of food safety knowledge as a restaurant employee. Understanding cross-contamination, food allergies, and cleanliness are important when serving the public.

3. Memory

There’s a lot to learn when you work at a restaurant, which means there’s also a lot to remember. You’ll have to be able to retain information about the restaurant itself and have an in-depth understanding of the restaurant menu. Still, you’ll also have a lot to remember throughout your shift, including table numbers, table orders, customer requests, time you’ve spent doing tasks, and more.

4. Strong work ethic

Working in a restaurant typically means working long, often tiring hours. You’ll certainly need a strong work ethic to handle these long, busy shifts while remaining an efficient employee. A desire and drive to do well at work and to work often will help you stay afloat as a restaurant employee.

5. Teamwork

Restaurants run sort of like theater productions. The show must go on, and it can’t go on without dozens of people working hard at their respective tasks.

While individual employees have responsibilities, the entire production can’t come together unless everyone is working towards the same goal. It’s important to have a team-centered mindset as a restaurant employee, and you must be willing and want to help out your team members to keep things running smoothly.

6. Communication

Teamwork doesn’t exist without quality communication. As a restaurant employee, you’ve got to communicate effectively and promptly. You’ll need to be able to communicate with coworkers and customers, both of which require listening intently, focusing on the message being given to you, and responding effectively. Likewise, you’ll need to be unafraid to clearly communicate your needs to coworkers.

7. Multi-Tasking Efficiently

In any one restaurant shift, there’s going to be a lot going on. To efficiently work in a restaurant, you’ve got to be able to juggle several tasks at once while doing them all well and promptly. Quick thinking and fast action are necessary to keep things running smoothly.

8. Time Management

While you’re juggling various tasks at once, you’ll need to be able to manage your time well. You might have to do several unrelated tasks in a very short time. Knowing how to prioritize and complete these tasks promptly and strategically is key to providing quality service and doing your part as a team member.

9. Problem-Solving

As a restaurant employee, you’ll have to be able to face problems head-on without becoming overwhelmed or emotional. There’s no room for hesitation or inaction when a problem arises at a restaurant — you’ll need to be able to think quickly and smartly about how best to solve problems, which also includes knowing how to ask for help when you need it.

Whether you’re resolving an interpersonal conflict or figuring out what to do about a missing ingredient, you should be able to assess the situation from an objective position and use resourcefulness and professionalism to solve the problem.

10. Hospitality

Customer service is a major facet of all restaurant jobs. Placing the customer’s experience at the top of your priorities is necessary. This entails maintaining a positive attitude, polite and friendly demeanor, and consistently putting a customer’s needs before yours. 

11. Professionalism

As a restaurant employee, your job is to provide a welcoming atmosphere for customers, which might mean putting on a more professional facade than you’re used to.

Maintaining an air of professionalism is important to keep guests feeling taken care of and comfortable. Professionalism means that, even in difficult situations, you keep your cool and don’t let emotions or pride overtake you — a professional’s motto is “the customer is always right.”

12. Optimism

Finally, you’ll need to be able to maintain a positive attitude on top of it all. As a restaurant employee, you’re likely to deal with many potentially frustrating or irritating situations, and you must be able to roll with the punches and stay enthusiastic.

There’s no room (or time) for sulking or fighting while on the job, so keeping a smile on your face through it all is one of the most important skills you can bring to a restaurant!

Restaurant Skills are Valuable Skills

Starting a new job in a restaurant can be overwhelming —- some say it takes a certain type of person to be able to work in a restaurant. However, if you feel you’ve already got most of these skills, working in a restaurant will only help you develop them further.

While it’s hard work, it helps prepare you to handle conflict with grace, work efficiently, interact with the public, and more. You’ll leave a restaurant job with a brand new toolkit of useful skills that can take you anywhere in life.

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