• Mike Hughes

What do you mean I can't do that?

What do you mean I can’t do that?

Restaurant Managers! Today’s topic is a brief review of how to maintain your employment in the restaurant industry. So you have worked hard and have been promoted to RESTAURANT MANAGER! This article covers pitfalls that WILL prevent you from a long career.

I was having a discussion with a friend the other day, and we were chatting about all the crazy ways to get terminated from your job. As I reviewed my long career and the dozens of managers I have worked with or have known that have been axed, I have taken the liberty of saving you the trouble with some helpful tips.

Now I understand that as I run through some of the things I have seen, you are going to think; this stuff is common sense and why would ANYONE be so foolish.

As a restaurant manager, we take on a lot of responsibility. We are entrusted to make sound business decisions. We are depended upon to handle thousands of dollars a day in assets, and are expected to be responsible. Despite all of this, there are still managers who don’t get it. So let’s get started with things you should NEVER do if you want to stay happily employed.

  1. The safe - The main thing to remember is this…It’s not your money and it’s not the bank. If you ever see a little note inside petty cash with a managers name on it and a dollar amount, they are usually floating themselves a little loan till payday. Of course they may be fronting themselves cash to pick up a few heads of lettuce, but I have seen this time and time again over the years. Keep your fingers out of the till. I saw a GM get removed because he used his corporate Amex (which he gets paid back) to buy rare baseball cards, and then submitted those same receipts to petty cash. It’s bad enough to get paid back once for your idiocy, but this guy was double dipping.

  2. Drinking on or after the shift - Really? I know you worked a long day and are tired, parched and potentially an alcoholic…But booze and restaurant managers don’t mix. Furthermore, I have never heard of the M.O.D dropping money in the register for a shift beer. How about this scenario…You are done with your day shift and a regular wants to buy you a cold one. Take a pass on this trap. One turns into 5 and 5 turns into you acting like an asshole in your restaurant.

  3. Hanging with the staff - Regardless of any motives you may have, or how hard the team is begging you to hang out with them, don’t. Your staff may be the coolest crew in town, and the stories they tell sound enticing. They are not your friends. Befriending your team makes managing them impossible. It makes disciplining them difficult and heaven knows we already play favorites in our restaurants. This magnifies that 10 fold. I also want to mention social media in this segment. Unfriend your employee’s right now. If you have to ask why, you will end up unemployed at some point in your career. It’s cool though, once you end up as en ex-manager; you can now hang with those fun loving former staff members.

  4. Having sexual relationships with your staff - Ok, while I REALLY wish I didn’t have to include this topic, the list of managers whose careers and lives have been ruined is VERY long. My uneducated guess is that in most cases, one or both of the love connection is married. Sure I know Sally is smoking hot and flirts with you all the time. I mean look at all the POWER you hold being an all mighty restaurant manager! She is putty in your hands! Slow down and tuck it back in my friends. NOTHING ever ends well in this scenario. I know a few GM and waitress relationships that went like this. John and Denise (totally fictional names) decided that for this to “work”, one of them needs to quit. So Denise leaves so they can live happily ever after. That is until John is attracted to that new hire behind the bar.

  5. Abusing your power - Speaking of all that power you have, don’t think you are above any codes of standards or conduct. You’re not. I remember a time when a GM I knew Chartered a PRIVATE JET to a leadership conference and then rented a mustang for his girlfriend to drive while he was at the conference. Why is that such a bad thing? He expensed it. Dear god, don’t do shit like that, and despite the high regard we have of ourselves, we are not Mick Jagger!

  6. Sexual harassment - This could and should be a separate topic that covers dozens of pages. It is that big a deal, and is far more prevalent than it needs to be. You know that innocent little back massage you are giving your 17 year old hostess? Yeah, she is grossed out and very uncomfortable. How about that dirty joke to the server about that guy from Nantucket? Yup, she isn’t amused. Sure Diane has very soft, long sexy hair and your think she would like you to run your fingers through it…Think again. I have been in this game since the 70’s, and frankly this kind of thing was in some ways, accepted (tolerated) back then. It was still dead wrong, but as my failing memory serves me, people on the other side of harassment didn’t really pursue the harasser as much. Different times my fellow Don Juan’s, different times. You are paid to act professional and responsible.

  7. Flat out stealing - I know this may seem like a rare occurrence. However, many of us don’t know how often it happens because PEOPLE ARE STEALING, and are hiding their dishonesty. Once thing that is for sure about dishonest managers…They eventually get caught. Entitlement is how this sometimes happens. You bust your ass for 14 hours a day 20 days in a row and figure that the company “owes” you a few steaks for your dinner with your buddies. Or that the beverage center is closed at 2:00 AM, so that case of Heineken is “owed” you. Your company doesn’t owe you shit. Stealing is a crime. Stop it.

Now that you are done reading some of these things that you should never do, because they are wrong and you could/should, lose your job, you may be thinking…Does this stuff really happen? The short answer is yes. I have been fortunate to know literally 300 managers in my career, and most have high degrees of ethics. Most I would trust my business to and never worry. However, our industry can sometimes attract some shady characters…Those hard working shady characters are sometimes promoted. Many times a leopard doesn’t change their spots, and that is how some of this happens.

It still blows my mind that someone who has busted their butts and is chosen to run a multi million dollar business, will risk a $75,000 a year salary for $50, or a case of beer or a piece of ass. I hope you are in the honest majority of Managers who want a good night’s sleep. Lastly is this tidbit;

One of the reasons we are hired is to prevent theft in our restaurants.

Thanks for reading!


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