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The Surprise Restaurant ManagerThe Surprise Restaurant Manager

By Ken McGarrie

Reviewed by Dr. Jacqueline Jeynes

What a great title! It has an intriguing starting point, with the inevitable question of how can it be a surprise to you – the restaurant manager? It is soon clear that, although this is the story of the author’s journey into becoming front-of-house
restaurant manager, it is a similar picture for many others who suddenly find
themselves in this role without adequate training or preparation.
The prologue gives a brief outline of typical restaurant structures. It emphasizes
the point that restaurants seem to attract big personalities, and while managers can be developed, “exceptional chefs are born.” After a great description of being forced to be the restaurant mascot in a very smelly costume, only because he was the dishwasher, you can see why he was determined to learn the trade and shift into management.

The reader is involved in the discussion about the potential surprise level, describing situations where you might suddenly find yourself having to take on the role. A particular feature of the book is the summary of the main points at the end of each chapter, plus a numbered list as chapter review. One example of this is the “Six Categories of Restaurant Manager” at the end of Chapter 1. I love the list in Chapter 2 of “8 Reasons Why Not to Hire a Job Applicant.” This list includes having no pen with them to the ultimate sin of not giving their current employer two weeks notice. But he is also careful to say that you should not humiliate the applicant if they are clearly out of their depth.

After discussing other areas where the restaurant manager can have a negative impact on employees and customers, and the need to have someone as witness if you have to discuss a disciplinary matter, the “12 Rules of Termination” at the end of Chapter 13 sum it up beautifully. Taking into account relevant feedback such as online reviews, and criticism from guests, McGarrie continues to give practical advice on how to deal with these issues.

By Chapter 26, the author is checking what you have learned with “10 Common Restaurant Scenarios” and questions about the right way to deal with them. Overall, it is a great way to get new “surprise” managers to see what possible pitfalls there are and ways to make sure they are ultimately successful
in this role.

Dr. Jacqueline Jeynes is an author, travel writer, art historian, and member of NFAA, British Guild Travel Writers.

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