The Wayward Somm: Don’t Be That Manager

By Trevor Bernatchez


Trevor Bernatchez

June 27, 2019

Before joining BevSpot, Trevor Bernatchez spent over 15 years in the world of restaurants and wine retail.  After becoming a Certified Sommelier in 2015, Trevor was looking for new challenges for his career in the beverage industry. As BevSpot’s Sr. Manager of Customer Education, Trevor uses his years of experience and education to help others become more successful with their bars and restaurants.

Imagine you’re coming to the end of your 14 hour double-shift at the restaurant. You’re feet, legs, back, and pretty much everything are screaming at you to sit down and stop moving…

On top of that, all you can smell is the stale ketchup you spilled on your shirt hours ago at table 56, and it’s taking everything in your power to not gag.

As you’re standing by the POS terminal printing your last table’s check, the closing manager walks up to you and points at a fork that’s fallen on the floor. ‘Can you pick that up and bring it to dish?’ they ask as they continue walking into the kitchen, past the dish station (yes, the one you’re about to bring that fork to), and into the office to do some closing work.

This is something that has actually happened to me in my serving days (sadly more than once). Please, I beg all of you, don’t be that manager…

There are two types of managers in the world of restaurants and hospitality; those who will take initiative and do whatever tasks it takes to keep the restaurant running smoothly, and then all the other ones.

The old saying ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ might be played out a bit, but it doesn’t make it any less true. One of the biggest issues I ran into the past was managers that ran teams like a dictatorship, and didn’t lift a finger to help. This can kill a work culture and lead to even higher turnover than usual.

Having managers that lead by example and take on any task, no matter how menial, will go a long way in gaining the respect and trust of your entire team. If you’re willing to go ‘in the trenches’ with your staff night in, night out, you’ll be amazed how quickly the work ethic of your front-of-house staff improves.

Here’s a different scenario, and one that you should strive to recreate if you are a manager yourself. It’s a crazy Saturday night, you’re 15-minutes behind on your reservations, and you have a waitlist an hour-long. You see a table that just got up and you know your busser is in the weeds so they won’t be able to flip it themselves. What would you do? If you get in there, and take the initiative to bus and reset that table, your team members will absolutely take notice. Not only that, but it is going to force them to elevate their game and step it up a bit themselves.

I don’t know about you, but if I walk around the corner and see my GM bussing tables, I’m gonna crank it up to 11 and get the job done no matter what. Unless you are playing the part of host, server, bartender, busser, food runner, back server, chef, and manager at the same time, there really is no single part of a restaurant that can run without the other. You are all simply one part of this machine that needs all aspects working together to come to life every day.

Becoming a manager doesn’t mean you’ve graduated to not doing any more manual labor at the restaurant. It means you’re in a leadership role, and that comes with a great deal of responsibility. So, do your staff (and your career) a favor…don’t be that manager and just pick up damn the fork yourself.


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