Daily Thoughts of a Restaurant Shift Leader

Once you move up to management you feel as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Only to have a heavier weight put in its place. Sure you no longer have to wait on tables, clean unnecessarily because its slow, roll silverware to go home, or do pesky side work.  You have a whole new list of responsibilities that are even more daunting. For instance: floor plans, sales & labor, guest complaints, employee complaints, constant coaching, delegating side work & cleaning duties, pushing sales strategies down your employees throats, food charts, and jumping in where ever your store is sinking at the moment. So I thought it would be fun to share with you my daily actions and thoughts that go through my head on a typical 10-8 shift leading shift.

10 am- Clock in and head to the manager’s office. Spend the next 15-20 minutes getting ready for the day. Which means putting on my wire, looking at the mac card (determine what type of hell I will endure today. Is it going to be smooth sailing or am I  going to be dealing with toddlers for most/all of the day), get the run down from the opening manager (call offs, plans for the shift, & our focus sales wise for the day), then finish my breakfast that my actual toddler at home wouldn’t let me finish. (Sidenote Leo is the only toddler I want to associate with on a daily)

10:30 am- Take a deep breath and walk out onto the server aisle. Check floor plans and side work in both dinning rooms that were put up by the opening manager. Listen to at least 5 of your 14-18 servers complain about the floor charts & side work that you had no hand in. After apologizing to the servers, because I get the struggle, I then head for the dining room.

10:45 am- The calm before the lunch storm. I assess my dinning rooms and how many tables are filled in them. I then begin my constant loop of table touches. Between all of the other things I’m in charge of I have to make my way through the dinning rooms asking everyone how their food/experience is.

11 am- Lunch time. From here until 2pm on average is the busy first half of my shift. It’s a constant state of “What the F**** was I thinking when I chose this path in life” I’m repeatedly calling for someone to run the gazillion trays in the window, seating tables, ensuring all of the tables have been greeted, helping my to-go person set up and take up to-go orders, being as responsive as possible on my wire, making my rounds of table touches, & dealing with guest complaints. With the occasional bathroom break in all of that mess. It also never fails when I have my pants down taking a pee someone calls and needs me over the wire. Can’t I have just two minutes of privacy??

2 pm- Lunch time finally! That is after I cut the floor and put up night-time floor plans. If you are like me a server at heart you take pride in your floor plans and put a lot of actual thought into them. It’s a balance of out times and server strengths. Your floor plans can literally make or break your shift. Once the server aisle is in shape again and no one needs anything from me its time to stuff my face with some food and get a cappuccino in my system. On a good day I’m able to sit down and have a full meal uninterrupted. Good days are far and few between. In my brain I’m just screaming “Seriously people your jobs are not that hard just do them and leave me the hell alone for an hour.”

3 pm- Dead zone. For most restaurants from 2-5 it’s not very busy. This is the time to get prepared for night shift. I’m in charge of making sure all my servers that are on the floor are cleaning and stocking the server aisle as much as they can. You can’t go into night shift without product and half empty ice bins. I’m also pulling each night shifter into the office and giving them the run down of the night. What we want sold and what weaknesses we need to work on. Which is almost always teamwork. Although night shifters are a much more likeable crew in most places you work, they are also mostly staffed with young adults who need direction.

5pm- At this point of the day I’m counting down the hours, but within 30 minutes I wont have a free second to even look at the clock.

5:30 pm- Dinner rush. It’s literally like I’m actually dead and in a constant state off hell. I’m almost for certain that if hell exists this will be my form of punishment trapped in a night shift for eternity. It’s almost always a mess no matter how prepared you think you were. Its like lunch rush, but just a little bit extra. The guest complaints get worse and weirder. Actually the guest in general are mostly weirder. It’s like all people with no common sense are out and about between 5-8, I kid you not. I’m always juggling at least 3-5 things at a time. From long checks to upset servers & guests. It’s a total mystery what will happen next, but I’ve seen it all so nothing surprises me these days.

8 pm- Its time to go!!!!! SIKE! If the ship is still sinking at this time I can kiss all hope of bouncing goodbye. I refuse to leave my team hanging, which I’ve seen done multiple times. If it’s not a total wreck I work on getting my team to clean up the twister of a mess night shift has caused and cut the floor. On a calm night I will leave anywhere from 8:15-8:30. If it’s still busy as all get out I will be lucky to leave at 9:30.

So to sum it all up for you, it takes a very special person to actually enjoy working in the restaurant business. Most of us are honestly just trying make it through the day and pull in money for our families. So before you go all hulk on the person in front of you over some cold mac n cheese or small portion sizes, take into consideration all the things they are juggling in that moment, and use your manners. I promise you when you handle yourself like an adult its going to better for all parties involved.

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