Open Letter to Criticizers of Restaurant Manager as new MLA in Alberta – no matter what party you support

restaurant_managementDear Criticizer,

RE: Graham Sucha voted in as MLA for Calgary Shaw

Both a daughter and a son in our family are restaurant managers, and I take great exception to the insinuation that restaurant managers are of a lower unqualified class of flunkies as portrayed by the comments I am seeing on several news posts. Let me make myself clear, restaurant management is one of the most complex, detailed, and difficult businesses in which to succeed and the companies that run them do not select flunkies to be in charge of their margins. 

So, for you salaried employees who work a 40-60 hour work-week, who are not in charge of your department’s budget, marketing, training, staffing, or procurement – perhaps you have a bit to learn about just what kind of a job this is.

The Restaurant Business is a Business!

It is hard-won, always changing, consistently challenging and one of the most difficult roles to take on because you must give up your whole life to make it successful. The dedication of someone who chooses restaurant management is tough, they must be responsible for much more than most MBA’s will have to experience in a life-time. Their fiduciary responsibilities go beyond duty and care, they are the stewards of the entire operation and must do so with fewer resources to support them than the average business.

Data Analysts

Restaurant managers must make good business decisions, and they must do so in good economies and bad. Data gathering and forecasting for both supply and service is a detailed and constantly moving target. They must gather data, understand the meaning behind the data and use that data to ensure consistency of service at the same time costs are being tightly controlled.

Re-engineering Gurus

Policies, talent management, streamlining, constant quality improvement, minute-by-minute business and resource optimization and continual response to environmental shifts outside of their control are all necessary for a restaurant manager to be successful. They are hit by more outside influence than most businesses and they are required to react on an instant.

Ultimate Customer Experience Experts

Few people either understand or care to learn about all that goes into your customer experience within an organization that gets an hour or two of your time while you are enjoying yourself. But to give you your water, wine and put a meal out in 12 minutes that is the right temperature, high quality, delivered with exceptional service in an ambiance that meets with your high standards is nothing short of miraculous. Restaurants require a high level of collaboration of all its parts, both front and back of house, and is like a well-oiled machine. Only an exceptional manager can achieve this kind of coordination from all their employees.

Business Management

I reiterate, restaurants are a BUSINESS. They have margins and budgets, supply, demand, service, and staffing issues. Unlike most businesses which are affected by occasional outside influences over the period of a year, restaurants deal with outside factors on an hourly basis. A downtown-city restaurant can have one day where they pull in $1500.00 in receipts to another day where $20,000.00 of receipts are brought in – all within the same week. This fluctuation of supply and demand cannot change the quality or experience to the customer, thus making their job extremely difficult. Budgetary forecasting, review of multi-year actuals, detailed understanding of the complexity of their location, client base, city events, sporting events, special days like Mother’s day, Father’s day, Canada Day, and more – are all on the agenda for pre-planning long before a customer even considers them. And as for competition, they have 8 other stores down the street that are vying for the very same customers so they must be dedicated 24/7 to win the hearts and loyalty of their customers, and they don’t do it by being lazy flunkies.

Personal Commitment

I’m guessing that some of you may head into work on a day off on occasion, that’s because you are dedicated! But did you know that the average restaurant manager is there on their ‘scheduled’ day off almost always as a rule? They are dedicated to their craft, they miss out on all of your fun events because nights and weekends are their busy times, they miss a lot of family functions, they are lucky if they marry a thoughtful spouse who is willing to manage children, house and home while they are consistently raising the bar to compete with the other store down the street, and at a lessor salary than you. So why do they do it?

It is a vocation, it is a love of people, of service and is a dedicated craft that involves dealing with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. They are faced daily with incredible experiences and for a moment are brought into the lives of their patrons who are celebrating, enjoying and feeding their lives through experience.

Yes, even the arrogant, entitled people who look down their noses at restaurant management as a lower-class choice in work leave with a meal served in only minutes with a high quality of standard and their glass filled.

Compared to a few MLAs of the past, I am thinking perhaps a little business management, by a people oriented person, would be welcome in our legislature, regardless of what party you support. The fact that this one chooses to seek advice from someone who is familiar with public life, is right out of the books of some of these folks.

Kind Regards,



I happen to know the young man that has been voted in as NDP MLA in Calgary Shaw and have witnessed his dedication and commitment, I am certain he will apply it as steadfastly to this new role as he has in management, and learn just as quickly. 





    • It’s the same with all “fun” related industries, the average person sees a ski hill, golf course, restaurant, hotel or other area of hospitality as an easy, “must be nice” kind of job. These are all businesses, and they are not run by idiots.

      • That’s not always true. Lots are run by complete idiots. OTOH lots of large corporations are run by idiots too, look at GM and their recent decisions re: ignition keys. Lots of governments are run by idiots, until recently we had Jim Prentice and Redford, I won’t even start on Harper. Certainly these folks or any highly educated or even successful person doesn’t have the market cornered on common sense. Hey wait now you have me thinking of Kevin O’Leary. Takes some common sense and quick wits to keep a restaurant, ski hill, resort hotel, golf course open.

        • Jim,
          Thanks for the comments – The defender in me used that expression “idiots” incorrectly, thanks for calling me on it. It does take some quick wit and common sense to run any business. Idiocy is not reserved for any industry, business or vocation – nor is education an indicator of knowledge. What I took exception to is the lowering of the value of a restaurant manager to that of any other profession as being highlighted in some of the comments on a few articles I read. My post is specifically meant to point out the importance of value in all professions and to indicate that the insinuation that choosing that profession makes him less than professional is an unfair assumption. It is the activities of the individual not the vocation that is judge worthy – and in the coming months we will all have a chance to witness the actions of many new comers to the political arena. Paying attention to the quality and value of the actions coming out of these political positions, challenging them when they get it wrong, questioning decisions they are making – all very important to our democratic process for Albertans – but to attack vocation and specific industry denotes a form of arrogance I have difficulty with.

          • That sort of attack based on perceived stereotype usually comes from someone’s own insecurities about their abilities and their station. I’m reminded again of Stevie Harper’s attacks of Chretian, Dion, Ignatieff, Trudeau. The guy simply can’t focus on issues. Then of course there is Prentice and the difficulties with math. Who was actually having trouble with math then, let alone now.

          • I would have to agree, Jim, that much dysfunction is born of insecurities – oddly, the very defense made in insecurity usually winds up being the very thing that makes it worse.

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