Dealing With Restaurant Burnout

To most, the service industry is a lifestyle, rather than a job.  You probably chose this path because you are not the type to be tied to a desk for 8 hours a day.  You enjoy the constant movement and buzzing of the restaurant. As in any career, though, there will be ups and downs.  There will be days, weeks, or even months when this lifestyle has taken its toll on you, and you feel that you may have made a major mistake in choosing this path for your life.  Don’t panic – this happens to almost everybody at some point in their career.  Before you make any rash decisions, collect yourself and determine if you may just be experiencing job burnout.  If so, it is usually just temporary, and you can take steps toward fixing the underlying issues. 

Below are some of the major reasons people get burnt out, and a few suggestions on how to deal with them.

Stress/Feeling Overwhelmed

 The restaurant business is tough.  The long hours and crazy pace are hard to keep up with.  And while the restaurant runs best when you are working as a team, if you have reached your breaking point it may be time to start saying “no”.  No, I can’t take an extra shift Tuesday because I have a family commitment.  No, I can’t close for you – I open in the morning.  No, I can’t run your food because I just got double sat.  If you say no because you sincerely just do not have any more to give right now, then people will understand.  It is temporary – there will be plenty of opportunities to make up for it once you get your groove back.

Major Life Changes

Major life changes can throw a wrench into your work life.  Whether you just got married, had a baby, bought a house, are going through a divorce, or have an ailing parent, life has a way of shaking things up.  During these big changes, work may not be a priority.  Just keep in mind that most of the stresses that come with these changes are temporary.  This is a good time to reach out to others and ask for help.  Let your boss and coworkers know that you have had a major life change, and need some help while you are adjusting.  If you can afford it, ask for a temporarily reduced schedule, different hours, or have coworkers pick up shifts for you.   


If you are at the same job for a long amount of time, it is possible that you are just bored.  While a new job might sound fun, remember you have to start out as the “new girl/guy”, and lose any seniority you have gained in your current position.  Before you consider changing restaurants, see if there are ways to change up your duties first.  Talk to your manager about what your interests are, and what you feel that you can bring to the table.  Are you burned out on lunch shifts and want to tackle a busy Friday night?  Do you feel you are ready for a promotion?  Are you ready to cross-train and move from the front of the house (FOH) to the back of the house (BOH)? 

Feeling Unappreciated

Perhaps you got looked over for a raise or promotion, or maybe you just don’t feel that you are valued for all that you give on a daily basis.  This is not the time to get passive aggressive and slack off.  If you truly feel slighted and do not understand your situation, it is time to have an open conversation with your boss.  The tone should not be defensive or confrontational, but a tool for you to learn what you can do better going forward.  In the meantime, while you wait for the next opportunity to be recognized, focus on the big picture of why you chose this career path in the first place.  What about your career brings you joy?  What are the small rewards that can keep you going?  Why does your work matter?

Lack of Community

Feeling connected with your coworkers is important.  Maybe you used to have close friends at work, but don’t anymore.  If you cannot find a solid reason for why these relationships have fizzled, then consider that this feeling could just be a symptom of burnout.  There is a lot of research out there on “burnout syndrome”, and depression, detachment, and isolation are a few of the common symptoms of this condition.  Keep this in mind and try not to close yourself off from those around you. Know that if you take steps to overcome your burnout, these feelings may well be temporary.