In different sectors of hospitality are countless industry environments in which we have the opportunity to work. The food and beverage industry boasts reflections of culture, geography, and all different kinds of culinary experiences for guests. And for those who work in the food service industry, finding the right business to work in could pose a challenge depending on your personality and “fit.” The spectrum of food service business scenarios is exponential, so understanding types of businesses is important to you as a job seeker and what might make the most sense for your career. See if any of the restaurant types below look like optimal work environments.
The fast food industry has food production and delivery down to a science. This fast paced environment runs like a well oiled machine. All the food products are carefully crafted, packed and delivered, cooked and packaged to satisfy the customer in both taste and convenience. Imagine a work environment run with extreme precision where your role is extremely clear and likely highly psychical. The work required of you and your colleagues is carefully laid out and executed upon in order to keep the ship afloat, similar to a factory. If you are an efficient and extremely organized person, this might be the right work environment for you.
Similar to the fast food industry, the term “fast casual” is new lingo for fast food that is more dining-centric. Panera Bread and Chipotle fit into this category. While convenience and speed is still a factor, the quality of the product and the diversity of options is more of a focal point. This narrows the audience a bit, as guests rely on high-quality and perhaps more custom food preparations. If you enjoy helping guests find the right food combination and take pride and a quality product with speed, this might be the ideal place for you to work.
A café tends to be run by a small business owner and has a relaxed, casual atmosphere. Note how we’re starting to shift into more aesthetic territory? Oftentimes you might find cafes in a prime location right where you need speedy refreshment. Or you can find them off the beaten path where are you least expect them. Sometimes they’re defined by their location, other times defined by the type or quality of food and drink they sell. Regardless, every café or bistro has its own personality and typically has a small team working behind the scenes. If you’re the type of person that gets along with everybody in a group project, working at a café or bistro might be the perfect place for you. It’s typically an intimate work environment centered around the product and customer experience.
One of the most challenging roads in hospitality is the one you hit in your food truck! Not only does the whole mobility aspect add dimension to the job (and miles to the odometer), but also puts your business virtually anywhere on the map. Typical a one- or two-man operation, this is a walking billboard situation with limited resources, so the product tends to be extremely limited or specialty in that regard. Normally there’s no stopping once you open up shop and you’re responsible for everything beyond guest experience and service: cleaning, operations, food purchasing, etc. We have a whole post dedicated to the food truck endeavor, so check it out if this adventurous food service job sounds right for you.
There’s something for everyone -- young and old -- at a family restaurant. Typically this is a restaurant that can accommodate large parties, families with children, and catering or function jobs. The menus can be lengthy and the dining experience much slower, but that’s because the guest experience is the most important thing. That also means the service is much more accommodating--not just the ambiance or decor. The server may just be the most important role in the restaurant, making parties feel comfortable and welcome. You’ll also notice that most servers at family restaurants are career-long veterans who truly enjoy being relentlessly hospitable to others. Sound like you? You may want to consider it.
Ahhh, bars. The American standard that celebrates alcohol in all its wondrous varieties (and effects). Bars can run the spectrum--dives with no decor or ambiance with the sole purpose of vending libations, to luxurious lounges featuring cocktails conceived by experienced mixologists. Whatever the case may be, a job at a bar should come with the understanding of serving alcohol (and limits), and potentially even pairings with food. This can be a fun and creative atmosphere with a lot of spirit and brand appeal. If you think you have the grit for a job as a bartender, check out a previous feature we wrote featuring one of Boston’s best bartenders.
The club, formally known as the night club, can be an experience that takes exclusivity (and fun) to a new level. The club scene has a high focus on entertainment value--while other types of restaurants might have more emphasis on food or drink. Imagine ambiance and music so captivating you might feel out of this world! Or entertainers so wildly colorful, it’s beyond all your expectations. This is not a work environment for the weak. In fact, you may even require special talents to work here!
If you recognize unique architecture, up-to-date interior design, and more than two servers to a table, you can assume you’re in for a fine dining experience. Think of a Michelin Star experience, like the ones you know from the movies. The entire fine dining operation is meticulous and the staff passionate. The roles of the culinary team are just as important as the roles of the rest of the restaurant. If you’ve ever considered a job as a chef in a fine dining establishment, you can read an earlier post. Either way, a job at a place like this isn’t for the faint of heart--it’s for the most dedicated, skilled, and efficient workers in the food service biz.
Specialty dining is anything in between or all of the above. Maybe you know of a small eatery at the top of a mountain ridge that serves nothing but hot chowder and hot chocolate? Or a bar and grill in the nook of a red rock canyon? Or a small island oasis that serves up rum painkillers and hot dogs? Or a stylish new Asian fusion bistro in the middle of an old waterfront drinking town? Other specialty dining establishments might include:
Sushi bars: dedicated to the art and craft of seafood and Japanese cuisine, this is a restaurant that requires knowledge of food and culture in order to succeed. Sushi chefs are one of the most sought-out positions in the world, as it takes talent and artistic ability to be able to craft and prepare some of the unique dishes.
Open kitchens: bringing the food cooking and preparation pretty much tableside, this is a fun and unique way of bringing the dining room and the kitchen together. Some open kitchen restaurants like Hibachi-style or hot pot have griddles or grills staked out throughout the dining room so that guests can watch and experience having their food prepared right in front of them. There is a high entertainment factor here, as it is more of an interactive event between the guest and the food they eat.
Soda fountains restaurants: throwing it back to the decades of old when folks drank soda pop from the tap, some restaurants operate in retro-mode. Menus may be reminiscent of old classic dishes and desserts that used to be popular generations ago. The aesthetic and guest experience is important in establishments like these, as is the quality of the product.
Floating restaurants: similar to the food truck, there are all kinds of mobile restaurants out there, especially in tropical climates. Food boats and bars float along the canals in many tropical destinations where you can pick up your delicacies and libations via floating vessels. Usually swimming or boating to these destinations is a requirement, but the question of whether or not they accept soggy cash isn’t a guarantee.
Digital restaurants: where the kitchen may be the most important room in the restaurant, some restaurants deliver food via conveyor belt or have guests order via device or tablet from their table. That puts less emphasis on the server and hospitality experience and more emphasis on food preparation and delivery. You might find this a cool place to work if you have technical knowledge and kitchen skills to boot.
Rotating menu/chef: featuring a menu that changes on a regular basis, rotating kitchens can be an exciting place to work if you’re passionate about food. Some restaurants rotate their executive chef to give them a chance to develop their own menu and flex their culinary talents, while others might have a rotating menu simply because they serve food that is seasonal. Many farm-to-table restaurants do this depending on what food is available.
No matter what, the best recipe for success is to get to yourself as a person and what you’ll need to be successful in a restaurant career. Looking for growth? Looking for experience? Looking for a bigger team or a new location? Look no further. Create a profile on Grit to get started highlighting your career goals and check out our clients looking to hire.