Top 5 Traits of the Best Restaurants to Work For

September 18, 2012

dac0e img 209 560x373 1 Montreal is a culinary paradise, with its vast range of ethnic cuisines, sizzling nightlife and bustling Euro charm. Attracting renowned chefs from around the globe, (Gordon Ramesay bought the 75-year-old rotisserie chicken joint, Laurier BBQ, in 2011, and Anthony Bourdain loves stuffing his belly with foie gras at Martin Picard’s Au Pied de Cochon when he comes to town) this is truly the ideal city to advance your career in the restaurant industry. And, if you do a “job search Montreal”, you’ll notice that a lot of restaurants are looking for help.

How do you know which restaurant is right for you? I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for ten years and have honed down five traits of a great place.

1) Good working relationships between management and staff. Whenever I go to a restaurant I always make sure to pay close attention to the interaction between the manager and staff. Does the staff respect the manager and/or owner? When the restaurant is busy, does the manager step in and help bus tables, fill waters, seat guests or otherwise support the flow? If the employees ask for help, does the manager respond quickly and kindly? Has the manager worked at the restaurant for a long time? I have worked in restaurants where the owner refuses to leave the kitchen and at bistros where the manager views his job as keeping his staff happy and making money. The latter is a much better work environment.

2) I love the food I’m selling. If I wouldn’t eat it, how am I supposed to give good and honest recommendations to customers? I think it’s as important for servers as kitchen staff to be really passionate and proud about the food they’re selling. Does the restaurant make the most of the food they serve? For example, are the salad dressings and desserts homemade? Homemade food is the hallmark of a staff determined to create a unique and lasting impression on each guest.

3) The restaurant has a distinct culture. How long has the majority of the staff worked at the restaurant? Have they been there a long time? If so, you are most likely looking at a place that values and respects their employees. Does the front of the house (waitstaff, bartenders, hosts) get along well with the back of the house staff (kitchen staff and dishwashers)? Make sure that the restaurant staff does not departmentalize. A restaurant functions best when everyone gets along and is friendly with one another.

4) I would come here! Do you like to be in the restaurant? Do you find the decor welcoming and comfortable? You will be spending a lot of time here so make sure that you like the atmosphere. I once worked at a fine dining restaurant with great clientele, but they played the same three songs on repeat for months. I love music and the lack of variety made me unhappy.

5) The restaurant has their sh*t together!Are job duties clearly defined? Restaurant employees must work hard to keep the restaurant going. Are you clear about everything your job will entail? When you begin work, how will you be trained? What shifts and how many can you expect to work? If you are working for a restaurant that serves dinner, typically the best shifts are evening and weekend shifts. How many of those shifts will you have?

Take time to explore each opportunity to make sure that you and the restaurant you’re applying to are a good fit for each other.

This is a guest post by Kaci Yoh.

Kaci Yoh has worked as a server and bartender in restaurants from coast to coast. She appreciates chargrilled filet and pan seared tofu with the same fervor. She has written for the Ann Arbor Business Review, Hanuman Yoga & Music Festival, Synapse and Poesy. When she is not enjoying a glass of Malbec, she can be found at

Written by Sofia Shendi who lives and works in Montreal, as the CTO of Tastet. Join me on Twitter

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