Career Switch: Restaurant Management Edition
October 7, 2013 6:13 PM   Subscribe

My SO has years and years of stellar restaurant management experience. How can he parlay this into a career outside of food service?

My SO has spent 20 years in restaurant management. He currently runs a very successful joint as it's GM and has numerous prestigious awards, especially for our area. He is basically the boss, accountant, et al for this place. And he works 70 hour weeks, which are literally killing him. 6 months ago he was hospitalized for something that is directly related to stress from work so he's know looking for something new. His doctor had insisted he work no more than 30 hours but that's just not the nature of this business so he's having a hard time managing to do that despite the potential health risks.

Thing is, he'd like to get out of the restaurant business altogether but we're not really sure where else his skills would be applicable. In an ideal world he could find something with comparable pay ($70000) and hours that didn't include late nights and weekends. He'd really like to get into non-profit work but we're not sure that's feasible.

Any MeFites have any suggestions? He'd like too be to be closer to me (we're long distance currently) so he'll soon be moving to a smaller, rural-ish area but he is willing to travel.

tl;dr 20 years of accomplished general manager experience is also great for this other job. What is this other job?
posted by youandiandaflame to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Any management-type job would be good. Sink a few bucks into a resume polishing service, and maybe do some mock interviews with people so he can learn how to emphasize the many, many moving parts of a restaurant that most non-food-service people have very little understanding of (logistics, ordering, accounting, dealing with waitstaff flaking on you, compliance with health standards, etc. etc.).

If he can afford it, tell him to take a few months off and take some classes at the local community college in areas that he might be interested in. That'll help him further gauge his interests and his abilities and give him some contacts.
posted by Etrigan at 6:30 PM on October 7, 2013

Non-profit healthcare. There are directly analogous positions in healthcare -- hospital cafeterias, mainly -- and everywhere that's worth working for is trying to improve the customer experience there: better, healthier food; better interior design; better customer service. There may also be less-directly related jobs in the field that he would be great for, because patient satisfaction is a HUGE deal these days. Then there are the jobs that would take a piece of his experience that he could expand on -- supply chain and physical plant come to mind, but there are probably others. And all of these jobs, while sometimes getting hectic and crossing the 40-hour mark during certain weeks, will be tons more sane and way less intense than restaurant management.
posted by Smells of Detroit at 6:53 PM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have a friend who retired from a similarly successful restaurant career to happily get a teaching credential and work in the K-12 public school system. Obviously this would need to be of interest to your partner for it to be a sensible pursuit, but it was a perfect, well-paying and comparatively less stressful second career for someone with the types of professional skills that one needs to be successful in the restaurant business.
posted by gubenuj at 9:17 PM on October 7, 2013

Erg, I hate to suggest this, but:

He should buy a van a be an owner/op courier with a decent mid-sized company (assuming you live in a metro bigger than 500,000). Not Fed/Ex, UPS, or some other major. Those pay a little above shit. I mean a local independent. (Look for ones that also employ bike couriers.) They're usually easy to get on with, mostly 7 to 5 (after hours trips pay, or should pay, amazingly well). If he's good (mostly, does he know the metro well?), in about four months he'll be grossing close to or, possibly, far more than his current salary. A year later, maybe much more. (Usually, the pay depends on the amount of work you get/willing to do; endloop.) The only training should be getting to know the company system(s) and the route or whatever they get him to do. The initial investment is a bitch, though. So is the initial work. Also, he would definitely be an independent contractor, so his paycheck is the only thing he gets (no benefits of any kind). I doubt that's much different from his current position.

However, Smells of Detroit has a great suggestion as well, but I wouldn't limit the search to non- or not-for-profits. His skills would definitely apply to running, say, several kitchens for a chain of senior's centers. I know of several local examples who have been in you husband's situation and have gone on to practice this after managing "2 years of flash" restaurants for 15 years. They are paid well and have both benefits and pensions! But, that might be a Canadian thing. YMMV.
posted by converge at 2:33 AM on October 8, 2013

Teaching at a local community college or culinary school, if one exists locally? Also, sales in the restaurant industry should be a viable option. Any company selling to restaurants should be interested in somebody with 20 years experience on the buyer side.
posted by COD at 5:06 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would recommend taking a break and learning a software skill as an administrator. Go through the want ads for your area and see what kinds of Administrators are being hired.

I'm a Administrator. It's very intuitive and easy to learn. It's fun! Every day it makes me feel smart. Throw in some Excel and you're a powerhouse.

There's Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, Crystal Reports, etc. You don't need to know how to program or anything like that, just knowing how to work the program is enough. It's hilarious!

I'm interviewing for 4 different jobs right now. Most folks found me on Linkedin and asked if I'd be interested in interviewing.

You have to have a head for data analysis, but after doing all the stuff one does as a GM, I'm thinking your SO has this in his back pocket.

My suggestion is to take a "stepping-stone" job for about $50,000 to start, after a year, you can go anywhere.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:34 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I totally agree with Smells of Detroit. His background would be very valuable in a hospital. Many hospitals (of both the for-profit and non-profit variety, and in his case there's no good reason to pass over one for the other*) staff their kitchens and cafeterias with one of the big food service provider companies like Aramark.

A hospital food service manager or director will deal with many of the same challenges and expectations as a restaurant, but the schedule will be less demanding. As a bonus, many hospitals are working to improve the quality of their food from both a taste and sustainability perspective.

* Both nonprofit and for-profit hospitals provide care for people and are an important part of their communities. I have worked for (and received care at) both, and at a staff level or as a patient, you cannot differentiate based on tax exempt status.
posted by jeoc at 6:36 PM on October 8, 2013

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