Robert Froli: Restaurant Manager
We caught up with senior restaurant manager Robert Froli, a.k.a Rob, after an 8-hour shift at Mugg & Bean in Tygervalley. To find out what it’s like for this young chap to work in the controlled chaos of a restaurant, while simultaneously pursuing his qualifications and other life aspirations, we sat down for a casual chat. In this interview we got a scoop on his role as a restaurant manager, as well as insight on study alternatives and how to keep a balanced lifestyle.
|Time of Day||Activity||Comments|
|06h00||Wake up – get ready and go. I’d rather sleep later than eat breakfast.||The thought of exercising this early is ridiculous so I leave that for a more doable hour in the evening.|
|07h00||Grab some coffee and then get the store going.||Coffee is really important. I can’t function without it.|
|07h10- 08h00||Make the set-up run smoothly.||Help with the set up, cleaning of everything, make sure each waiter sets their area up correctly, see that all baked goods are ready|
|08h00||Store opens||Over weekends and public holidays, it’s buzzing with activity and customers.|
|10:00||I do some things back of house. Make sure things are maintained and made correctly.||Spend some time in the fridge just chilling and making sure the weights of the meats and other products are correct.|
|(No specific time, I need to do this throughout the day)||Front house – chat to customers, make sure waiters are doing what they should.||Comfortable shoes are a necessity.|
|15h00-16h00||End of work.||Cash up and leave. My shoes come off the moment I step through my front door.|
|16h00||Do some studying. I’m studying web development at the moment.||This only happens if procrastination didn’t consume me and series won the fight.|
|19h00-21h00||Football time!||Don’t play 5 a side when you haven’t played in over a year.|
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The fact that I don’t work in an office. I’m on my feet and interacting with people. I like chatting to people. I like the satisfaction from doing something nice for someone and putting a smile on their face.
What do you enjoy least about your job?
The hours. And sometimes you go out of your way to do something amazing for a customer and there’s no appreciation. At times, it’s a ‘thankless’ industry to work in.
What do you do in your spare time?
I’m busy studying web development online through Coursera, I play in a 5 a side soccer team, play guitar, have a girlfriend and keep up with friends – so if you’re scared you’ll miss out, turn that frown upside down!
Is there a qualification required to perform this job?
No, but I waitered for a long time. I started at 16. I worked at a Mugg and Bean before, so I knew how it all worked pretty well by the time I started here. If you have a reputation for being a good waiter it makes it a lot easier to become a manager. [/su_service]
Would you be able to work in the hotel industry?
There is a huge gap in the skills and qualifications from working at a place like Mugg and Bean and at a hotel. A hotel requires a qualification or a lot of experience. So the chances of me getting a job at a hotel as a manager is extremely slim. The gap in salary is also huge. There is a lot more earning potential at a hotel.
Is there any training provided by a restaurant once you come on board?
Yes. I previously worked at Panarottis as a manager, and I got a lot of training while I was there. But because I knew Mugg & Bean very well from before, the guys didn’t bother much.
How does being a waiter compare to being a manager?
Waitering responsibilities are only your tables in the front of house and some preparation and cleaning duties. Management is the responsibility of the whole front of house and making sure products have been ordered and statements have been paid. As the manager, I also need to ensure the smooth running of the whole store. If anything goes wrong – unhappy customers, bad batch of baked goods, failed delivery – we need to handle it and get it resolved.
How does waitering and managing compare? Which do you enjoy most?
In terms of enjoyability, I don’t enjoy being a waiter, but I enjoy this. Waitering can become tiresome and doesn’t require much strategic planning. By being a manager I can constantly think of ways to improve productivity, serving time, quality of food and service, or how to cut down on costs. I enjoy this side more than interacting with customers all day.
What type of person would be well suited to this job?
You have to be really confident and well spoken. Being bilingual or multilingual is also highly beneficial. Be someone who is adaptable and very, very patient.
How long have you been in this position and how did you get here?
I’ve been in a management position for 2 years and I got here by working my way up through waitering.
Do you have some pointers for someone interested in this job?
I suppose you have an expectation going into it which can be unrealistic. It might be like your expectations for the first 3 months of working as a manager. You need to be aware that it will be completely different to what you expect. Be prepared for your boundaries to stretch and to be outside your comfort zone on a regular basis. The owners are often very blunt and pedantic with what they want. No matter how good you are, you need to follow their guideline.
What is the earning potential of this career?
When you first start out in a managerial position, you should only expect around R7 000. A senior manager will earn between R12 000 and R17 000. A general manager (who runs the whole restaurant and is ranked above the senior managers) in Mugg and Bean can earn anything from R20 000 onwards.
How would you be able to climb up the corporate ladder past being a manager?
The next best thing after being a manager is buying a portion of a restaurant or starting your own branch. I have considered saving up and starting my own restaurant someday. That way I can use my knowledge to expand and build my own business – which would be pretty cool.
Any quirky advice for scholars looking to pursue a career in your field?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be prepared to joke around with people and laugh a lot. It helps get you through your day.
There are so many different fields that a student can go into nowadays. It can be hugely overwhelming. Sometimes a gap year is the best thing you can do for yourself. Varsity really isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some people are simply more practically orientated. This really isn’t a bad thing. Or even if varsity is for you but you can’t afford it or other circumstances prove it to be impossible to study. Here is a career you can pursue where you can develop yourself and grow while earning a living. Working as a manager can grow you as a person, your character and help with maturity, while earning some moola and exploring different fields of interest.