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Crew Leader Duties and Responsibilities

A crew leader's duties vary based on the size of their team and restaurant, but the following are a few key tasks common to most crew leaders:

Train Employees Crew leaders mentor and coach everyone on their team, training them on everything from proper food safety procedures to customer service. They do this for both current team members and new employees, sometimes monitoring new hires until they're ready to work independently.

Monitor Food Preparation It's the crew leader's job to ensure that all employees adhere to food safety practices when preparing food. They do so by monitoring the work of individual employees, checking that equipment is operational, and ensuring that food is kept at the correct temperature. They also oversee the presentation of food to verify that employees are following recipes and preparing all dishes properly for customers.

Manage Employees Crew leaders typically set the shifts for everyone on their team and may also approve time off requests. They also assign duties to each team member. At some restaurants they may discipline employees and hire or fire workers.

Interact with Customers At many restaurants the crew leader is the person in charge during their shift, so they handle customer complaints or questions and ensure that customers have a top-notch dining experience.

Order Items and Set Budgets During their shift, crew leaders note any ingredients or supplies that are running low and either order them or leave instructions for them to be ordered. Depending on the size of the restaurant, they may also create budgets for supplies and employee expenses.


Crew Leader Skills and Qualifications

Not all crew leaders have exactly the same talents, but we have uncovered some core qualities necessary to excel at this role:
  • Diverse experience - crew leaders typically move up to this role after years spent serving in other capacities. To oversee these jobs, they draw on their experience both in the kitchen and working with customers
  • Leadership skills - thanks to their previous experience in leadership or management roles, crew leaders know how to motivate their employees to perform their best and how to keep everything running smoothly
  • Physical fitness - working in a restaurant is often a physically demanding job, and crew leaders frequently stay on their feet during their entire shift
  • Flexibility - crew leaders often play several roles and may need to prepare food and assist with serving customers. They also frequently work irregular hours, with some restaurants requiring them to work a wide range of shifts instead of having set hours
  • People skills - strong written and verbal communication skills are important aspects of a crew leader's job, as is the ability to deal effectively with a diverse group of people, both employees and customers. They maintain positive relationships with their staff, use their interpersonal skills to calm upset customers, and make sure all visitors feel welcomed

Crew Leader Education and Training

Crew leaders typically need at least a high school diploma or GED. Many receive their training on the job through several years' experience as a server, cook, or other role in the restaurant industry. Some high-end restaurants may prefer that candidates have formal training in a field such as hospitality or management, or through a culinary program. While licensing is not mandatory, some employers may prefer that crew leaders obtain certification in food safety.

Crew Leader Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), food service managers such as crew leaders earn a median annual salary of $52,030. Crew leaders in the top 10 percent earn more than $90,290 annually, and those in the bottom 10 percent earn less than $29,850 per year. The BLS expects employment opportunities for food service managers to grow 9 percent through 2026, which is about as fast as the average growth rate for all professions.

Helpful Resources

If you're ready to transition into a management role, we have several valuable resources to help you on your way:

National Restaurant Association - this professional organization offers networking opportunities and advocacy, in addition to advice covering everything from employee management to food safety

Restaurant Workers Association - designed for restaurant employees at all levels, this professional association offers free membership and discounts on everything from financial services to travel. Members can stay current on industry news through the association's blog and find their next job at its online career center

How to Rock Restaurant Management: 5 Ingredients to Leading a Successful Team - designed for both new leaders and those wanting to enhance their management skills, this book covers everything from improving time management to boosting employee retention

The First-Time Manager - this comprehensive guide to management teaches new leaders how to mentor their teams, improve service, and boost employee morale

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