22.3.2021

How Many Members of Staff Do I Need in My Restaurant?

Written by Kadence Edmonds

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Staff costs are undoubtedly one of the most significant overheads for any restaurant. So, if you want to minimise costs as much as possible, it’s worth asking yourself how many members of staff do you need in your venue? 

Sadly, there is no one size fits all answer to this important question. Indeed, there are many factors to evaluate when determining how many staff are needed to run your restaurant.  

Achieving the perfect staffing balance is a never-ending battle that requires constant monitoring and frequent adjustments. There’s a fine line between being overstaffed - which can negatively impact cash flow - and employing the right number of heads to deliver successful service and customer satisfaction.  

Finding equilibrium in your staffing levels is critical to achieving sustainable commercial success in any hospitality business.  

How many staff does a restaurant need: hard numbers 

One thing to remember when trying to calculate restaurant staffing is that every restaurant is different. The number of staff you need will vary depending on your service style, location, size and restaurant type.  

Self-service restaurant: Due to the operating style in self-service restaurants, staff demands are lower. Since food isn’t being cooked to order, and staff aren’t needed to deliver plates to tables, your wider operation can be relatively lean. Typical staff demands might require:

  • Front of the house (FOH - Service/Servers) - 1 staff member, per shift for every 12 tables.
  • Back of the house (BOH - Kitchen/Cook staff) - 4 staff members in a shift for every 50 customers an hour.
  • Supporting Staff (admin, accountant, HR) - 1–2 staff per shift, (Cashier staff and cleaners) - 1 & 2 respectively per shift.

Seated casual dining restaurant: Customers will expect higher levels of service at these types of casual restaurants. As a result, you will need more staff per customer to make sure you are keeping up with orders, cleaning and delivering customer satisfaction. General staff requirements might be:

  • Front of the house (FOH - Service/Servers) - 1 staff member, per shift for every 5–6 tables.
  • Back of the house (BOH - Kitchen/Cook staff) - 4 staff members for 50–60 cover restaurants, per shift.
  • Supporting Staff (admin, accountant, HR) - 1–2 staff members, (cashier staff and cleaners) - 1 & 2 respectively per shift.

Fine dining restaurant: Fine dining restaurant businesses require far more attentive service levels and, therefore, will generally need higher numbers of front-of-house and back-of-house staff to achieve this. General staff requirements may look like: 

  • Front of the house (FOH - Service/servers) - 1 staff member, per shift for every 4 tables.
  • Maitre d’ - 1 staff member per shift. 
  • Back of the house (BOH - Kitchen/cook staff) - 6 staff members, per shift, for 50–60 restaurant covers.  
  • Supporting Staff (admin, manager, accountant, HR) - 1–2 staff, (cashier and cleaners) - 1 & 2 respectively per shift.

Of course, these numbers are just a baseline and can vary up to 20% depending on venue location and type of menu.

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Remember employee satisfaction

It’s important to remember that not only do you want your customers to walk away happy, but you also want your employees to be satisfied as well. 

Providing your members of staff with a positive work environment and culture will require rostering on enough staff in a shift to ensure no one is overworked, and that the job isn’t unnecessarily stressful. With this in mind, it’s sometimes beneficial to overestimate staffing needs - this can also be beneficial when it comes to dealing with potential emergencies or staffing shortfalls.

Having a number of part-time employees can also help boost morale for restaurant employees, as this can increase flexibility and reduce pressure on the team. Part-time or flexible contracts can make shift-swapping and scheduling easier, allowing employees to easily pursue out-of-work opportunities.

Staff roles you need to fill in a restaurant 

Depending on the type of restaurant you are opening, staffing needs will vary. Your restaurant may need managers, servers, cooks, dishwashers and hosts. In newer or smaller enterprises, some of these roles may cross over, and servers can double as dishwashers in quiet times while managers might be hosts. Because of this, it is important to hire people who are willing to be flexible in their roles.

Manager

The most important role in a restaurant is the manager. Some business owners will take on management responsibilities themselves, while others will choose to hire an experienced person to handle the day-to-day operations.  

The best candidates for this position will have experience in managing the same style of restaurant and will be familiar with suppliers, local sources, customer relations and methods. 

Not only should a manager be able to open and close the restaurant, complete stock ordering, track inventory, but they must also be able to train and manage staff, develop a marketing plan, deal with suppliers, and maintain a friendly relationship with all customers (which includes complaints management). Choose a candidate that directly reflects your style and brand image.  

Chefs

Depending on your restaurant, the head or executive chef may be your main attraction. Top chefs can create their own menu and culinary masterpieces that can potentially make or break your restaurant. It’s therefore crucial to hire a chef that fits your restaurant style and who can represent your brand and develop your restaurant’s reputation.  

Cooks 

When it comes to hiring cooks, sous chefs or line cooks it’s best to do so according to your restaurant type. Cooks can work under chefs, or can run the back-of-house solo. Customers will likely become regulars if they know exactly what to expect when they dine at your establishment, and excellent cooks can provide this.  

Dishwashers

Quite simply, dishwashers will clean dishes and serveware in your venue. These kinds of positions are always well suited to juniors just starting out in the workforce, and because of age, will generally be cheaper to employ. Labour costs for dishwashers and junior kitchen assistants are not always justified for smaller businesses, as these tasks can be carried out by other front or back-of-house staff.

Serving Staff

Your serving staff are another vital component of your restaurant. Servers are the members of staff who interact with customers, so they need to be tidy, have a good attitude and communication skills, and be able to provide a high level of customer service.

They also need to be able to work well under pressure and be able to meet the demands of several customers at different times, all while maintaining a positive attitude even when things go wrong at the table.

Other roles

Dedicated bus persons can be useful by clearing and setting tables, polishing silverware and refilling glasses, freeing the waiters to engage and attend to diners directly.

Restaurant hosts are common in high-end restaurants as they provide an outstanding first impression, taking reservations, seating customers and then finalising bills after the meal.

Bartenders are common in the restaurant industry, making the best drinks and optimising wet sales for the business while maintaining the bar to the highest standard.

Make work easier for your restaurant staff

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  • Run your business your way with hundreds of fantastic business apps to choose from

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