Five Tips on Effectively Attracting and Retaining Top-Tier Staff for Restaurants

One of the most important ingredients to running a successful restaurant is finding the right people who will provide the best experiences for your customers. Staffing your restaurant is a challenge in and of itself; however, retaining top tier talent is another hurdle altogether.

Although this may sound stressful, these are decisive battles that all restaurants must win if they want to succeed. The interactions with the staff are what leaves lasting impressions of the overall hospitality experience. If you’re striving for restaurant excellence then here are five tips that you can implement into your processes to attract and retain top tier staff.

1. Create Exceptional Culture

The staff can often dictate the restaurant culture which can lead to complete chaos. Instead, the culture needs to be created from the top down – it starts with the managing group. Are you looking to create a long-lasting impression for your diners? Do you reward service that goes above and beyond what is typically expected? Do you stand by the quality of your product? These are all questions that fall under your restaurant’s culture – not to be confused with your brand. See, many restaurants confuse the two.


By promoting the fact that a restaurant has unparalleled service they believe that their staff will execute on that promise. However, because the culture is not in line with the branding – there are countless instances where the service is lackluster! Establish your culture early and make it known to the entire team. Let them know what is expected and what kind of opportunities are available when they exceed those expectations.

2. Create Valuable Opportunities

Speaking of opportunities – you need to ensure that there are high-quality opportunities for personal and professional development. You want to retain your highest performers who understand the restaurant culture and are striving to overachieve. If you don’t reward these people with mentorship, coaching, or other alternatives, they will take their talents elsewhere. Restaurants don’t typically invest in their people’s growth – this is the main reason why restaurant turnover is one of the biggest problems that the industry faces today.

Restaurants don’t typically invest in their people’s growth – this is the main reason why restaurant turnover is one of the biggest problems that the industry faces today.

3. Hire For Personality and Passion

The majority of restaurant owners look for the wrong qualities when they hire. The basis for hiring people usually depend on the skills listed in their resumes – which is a flawed approach. It’s relatively easy to train people to perform the job as expected; however, it is incredibly difficult to change someone’s personality or force them to be passionate. You must ask the correct questions when interviewing someone for the position. Ask questions that start with ‘why’ and ‘how’ instead of ‘what’ and ‘where.’

4. Exclusive Membership

When going through the hiring process make it known that joining the team is like gaining access to an exclusive membership – the team isn’t for everyone. You need the hiring process to be somewhat challenging to weed out those that are not determined to give their best efforts. This can be done by splitting your interview process into multiple parts, having them display their skills first-hand, having them work with existing team members to gauge compatibility or create fictional scenarios to see what their decision-making processes are. The main point to remember during this long process is to know whether they will be a good fit for your restaurant’s culture. Measure their personality and passion with these micro tests so you can be sure that you’re hiring the right people for your team.


5. Respect, Dignity, and Appreciation

You cannot forget that the people on your team are the primary resource and backbone of the establishment. Without their input and dedication, there can be nothing great that happens for your restaurant. So keeping this in mind – go around and personally thank your team for their hard work. It is shocking to see how many managers or owners don’t show any appreciation, respect, or dignity for their staff who personify their business’s culture and make the restaurant successful. All it takes is a few moments at closing to show genuine appreciation for your teams’ efforts by going up to them and sincerely saying “thank you.” This is the most profitable strategy of building a great team because it costs you nothing.

Every restaurant needs to have people as resources – how you find and retain these people will differentiate the businesses that succeed and dominate the market from those that barely survive. The most important thing to remember here is that a restaurant is only as great as the staff that works there.