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Though the movies often romanticize the restaurant business, portraying it as a fun romp complete with delicious food, the reality is often the opposite. The industry demands long hours, grueling work, late nights–and above all, talented and dedicated staff. One of the key errors committed by new restaurateurs is the failure to hire individuals with the necessary skills and experience to keep the place running smoothly. Here’s a rundown on essential restaurant positions, and what prospective employers should look for in their applicants.


One of the most grossly underestimated positions in the industry, if not in the entire workforce. When it comes to hiring servers, restaurants should seek out the most reliable, energetic, and personable applicants. A basic knowledge of food and wine is also essential–servers can’t sell a dish if they have no idea what it is.


Mixologists need more than just a working knowledge of how to craft a decent cocktail; a strong and vibrant personality is what separates a great bartender from a merely competent one. In essence, the bartender should be able to do everything the server can, all while shaking a martini. It’s a tall order, but there are those who are able to fill it. Don’t settle for less.

Hosts and Bussers

Some fledgling businesses won’t have any need to fill these positions, especially if the space is small and guests can seat themselves. Often, in these cases, the servers can often bus their own tables. If the space does require hosts and bussers, resist the urge to hire the first kid to submit an application. It’s common for hosts to have to deal with frustrated customers, while still maintaining a cheerful demeanor. Not everyone is up to this task.

Chefs and/or Sous-Chefs

Many restaurateurs plan to take on the head chef’s duties themselves. Even if that’s the case, a good sous-chef is worth his or her weight in gold. Find someone who’s comfortable at every station, in case they need to switch it up some nights and avoid hiring anyone whose head won’t fit through the swinging doors.


There’s only one real rule when it comes to hiring dishwashers: Pay them a living wage. It’s too easy for them to seek alternative employment otherwise.