How to Know How Many Staff Should You Hire for a Restaurant

Owning a restaurant seems like a glamorous proposition, but like any business, a lot goes into account. There are tons of things that need to be managed, from finances to health codes to staff.

To know how many staff should be hired for a restaurant, take into account which positions are needed. Fill each of these positions enough that there is no need to operate on a skeleton crew on a regular basis.  Ideally, make sure there is enough staff to alternate shifts with each other and cover should something go wrong.

Some positions can be filled or even covered by the owner themselves, and some can be doubled up on. This is especially true during slower hours, but more staff will be needed during rush hours to accommodate the influx of people. Keep reading to learn about the staff and how many should be hired for a restaurant.

The Staff You Need to Hire for a Restaurant

The number of staff needed for a restaurant is entirely determined by the type and size of the establishment. Cost is also a factor, as staff will be the biggest cost that the restaurant needs to pay. However, skimping on their pay due to the fact they can collect tips typically results in unhappy staff and high turnover rates, which costs more in the long run due to continued training costs, unhappy guests, and poor reviews. Pay and treat staff as well as possible and it will pay off.


Managers are critical to ensuring that the restaurant runs as planned, there’s someone to help out the rest of the staff, and someone for guests to talk to should there be a problem. Typically, there are front of house managers who are in charge of everything the guests see, and back of house managers who are in charge of the kitchen. They need to have fantastic leadership and people skills as well as being trustworthy.

Typical job duties for a restaurant manager include:

  • Ordering supplies
  • Open/close registers
  • Track inventory
  • Train and manage staff
  • Handle disputes
  • Placate unruly guests
  • Help out during rush if needed

Restaurant managers have a rough job with a high turnover rate. In order to get and maintain quality managers, they need to be paid well and have ample time off without worrying the whole store is going to collapse without their help. There are typically two to four managers per restaurant, though this might be different depending on the size.

Chefs and/or Cooks

Depending on the scale of the restaurant, there will be a series of chefs or a series of cooks. Top chefs tend to be star attractions to restaurants and are typically in charge of building the menu. Other chefs have different roles, such as making the pastries or being the second in command for kitchen affairs. Typically, chefs are highly trained culinary specialists and work their way bottom up.

Cooks are similar to chefs but typically are not for four or higher starred restaurants. Cooking schools produce a fair number of quality cooks, many of which are desperately trying to grasp hold of a new lease on life. They also tend to be a good starting point for people wanting to work their way up to a chef status.

Hire enough chefs and cooks to alternate between them for days and shifts, preferably with at least one extra just in case something happens. Nobody wants to find out their cook is ill or injured and there’s nobody to pick up the slack.


Dishwashers are often mingled with bussers, but the primary job of a dishwasher is just as the name implies. They ensure that the dishes are clean, sanitary, and available. It’s incredibly important to make sure there are dishwashers available during rush hours such as lunch and dinner. Typically, this is a very low paying part-time job, but they still have to work rather hard and be able to clean effectively while also being able to move quickly.


Bussers sometimes get mingled with dishwashers and serving staff, as they are the middle ground between guests and the rest of the staff. They do a lot of cleaning which can typically be handled by servers in slower periods. During rush though it’s great to have a dedicated busser for each station in order to keep the guests happy, their needs met, and the experience moving.

Some typical duties for a busser include:

  • Clearing and cleaning tables
  • Refilling glasses
  • Clean and fill condiment containers
  • Assist servers

Bussers typically are positions filled by low-wage and low-experience persons. In many restaurants, a dedicated busser is a part-timer who operates around and during rush. Sometimes there aren’t dedicated bussers and are in fact just the servers in their stations.

Serving and/or Hosting Staff

The serving and hosting staff are critical to the restaurant. These are the people that the guests are going to see and interact with, so they need to be in top form. They have to be quick with great customer service skills. For larger restaurants, hosting staff are dedicated staff for seating. For some, hosts are dedicated servers for a small area whereas a server is meant to just bring out the food.

Additionally, some restaurants have a middle ground expediter position that works to keep food moving in the back-of-house and quality check before the food reaches front of house. These people are here to make sure things are coming out in order and in a timely fashion, nothing gets forgotten, and they are going to the right place when things get busy.

Serving staff in nearly every restaurant are extremely overworked and expected to do a lot for scraps as far as pay goes due to being able to collect tips. This tends to lead to a high turnover rate, poor dispositions, and chronic illnesses. They also tend to be understaffed on purpose in an effort to keep them moving, which typically makes matters worse in the long run. Alternatively, restaurants with well-treated serving staff getting decent pay helps to boost the morale of the rest of the staff and thus the appearances for the guests.


If the restaurant is to have a bar, a certified bartender is required. In most states, it is illegal for someone who is uncertified to make alcoholic beverages, but they can serve them once they’re prepared. Bartenders have to excel at quality control and be amazing with customers. They have to move quickly and efficiently, while also making the guest feel like they’re paid attention to. Going to a bar is an experience and a bartender has to be able to provide that. They’re going to be a star attraction, so they have to live up to it.


A typical mistake for restaurants is to try and cut costs where they are the highest, with the staff. This is a pretty rough decision and should be avoided as much as possible. The restaurant can’t operate without staff, even if the owner is there helping out. Having a full staff roster that is treated and paid well will help to keep morale high which will in turn lead to happier guests. Hiring enough people that all positions are filled, even if that means doubling up when it’s slow, with room for the inevitable disaster is ideal.


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