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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Getting a Job in a Restaurant: Restaurant Selection

You may not have the opportunity to pick and choose where you work, especially if you are desperate and just need a job. Usually if you haven't had a job before or are
switching careers then you won't have as much flexibility as someone with some experience. This post is to explain how to identify good employers and ways to spot
places you should avoid. One place that always was hiring for cooks when I did my stretch in the kitchen was the Cheesecake Factory. I will never work there. They boast a menu with over 200 items. That is crazy. 200 items to know by heart, up, down, and sideways! Forget about it. Before you send in your well crafted resume (see earlier post) it is always a good idea to do a little homework. Every location is different,
even for fastfood places. Just because the restaurant by your house is filthy doesn't mean the one down the road is too. Generally it is a good idea to go scope out
the restaurant. Sometimes (especially online) you don't know the name of the restaurant, so in that case this will not be effective. Other examples of when this is
near to impossible is when your applying to a private club, a catering company, hotels, or extremely expensive restaurants.
When you do a little research look around, check to make sure general maintenance is being done. This is particularly important because if your employer won't change a few light bulbs or fix a hole in the wall forget about any raise! When you go in you should be able to make a general assessment as to
wether this place is a five star employer or a train wreck. Be cautious, we in the service industry are actors and if this place has a serving staff with some skill
the kitchen could be burning to the ground and you will never know. If you're feeling good about the place ask a server or bartender about working there, be sure to
tip them for their time and information, a topic for another day. If you are getting good vibes, then start doing a full review.
You need to make a list of everything you see. Everything. It is wise to count the number of cars in the parking lot, look for trash outside, is the paint chipping,
etc. You need to do a complete restaurant review. You need to go in, order something simple and time the whole thing. The time it takes for them to acknowledge you,
seat you, beverage, etc. etc. It is important that these people not know you are doing a full scale review or else they will slant service in your favor. Check the
bathrooms, where's management? How many are staffed? Server's name and attitudes of staff. Check the menu for item count, prices, complexity, diversity, etc. You
should gather enough information to write a five page paper on this place, then pick up an application and fill it out. Drop off the application and a copy of your
resume to the management (preferably the hiring manager), never to a hostess, server, or bartender.
A good work place has a smooth flow to it, no one should be moving too slow and no one should be running across the floor. There shouldn't be too much idle chit-chat
by servers at the side stations, usually that's a sign of gossip and drama. You should be able to see a manager for a good portion of the time. Managers have other
things to do as well but seeing a manager is a sign of active management, a plus. No employee should be chewing gum, texting, messing around- a sign that you will be
picking up someone's slack. Everyone should be clean, constantly washing their hands, but you may never see that. Run don't walk from any place that is willing to hire
you to work the same night. This means trouble. Restaurants have incredibly high turn over rates, some much worse than others, ask a server or bartender how many
people they go through. High turnover means trouble. It is difficult to narrow down the problem in a restaurant, but don't think you'll be the one to fix it.These are just a few general words of wisdom on picking places to apply at.

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