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Keeping Your Restaurant Afloat During the Summer of Big Events: A Candid Look

Image of a waiter typing an order into a POS system.

Listen, being in the restaurant business isn't for the faint-hearted. It's a world where one minute you're serving a quiet dinner for two, and the next, you're in the middle of a full-blown Mardi Gras. National Restaurant Association (2021) wasn't kidding when they said 31% of restaurant owners find staffing their top challenge. One moment of pandemonium can have you second-guessing your life choices.

So, how do you survive the tumult? Let's break it down with a bit of data and straight talk.

Knowing Your Numbers

The first step in staffing up is to understand the demands of the event. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022) estimates that one server can efficiently handle between 3 to 4 tables at a time, depending on the complexity of the menu and service style[^2^]. From personal experience, switching to team style service can increase a server’s tables by 2.5x allowing 1 person to cover 10 tables. Alternatively, if team-style service isn’t feasible, if you expect your number of tables to double during an event, it follows that you may need to double up your FOH staff.

Staffing: It's a Quality Game

Now, let's not forget that this isn't just about filling aprons and extra bodies. Cornell University (2023) found that if you've got experienced staff, you're looking at a 19% uptick in customer satisfaction[^3^].

So, where do you find these culinary wizards? Well, there's a whole world of hospitality staffing solutions out there, online job platforms, recruitment agencies, even culinary schools, that can help you find the right candidate. Or an in-house recruiter like Clock’d who can set you up with an in-house applicant tracking system. Restaurant applicant tracking system can significantly streamline the recruitment process, making it easier to sift through resumes, schedule interviews, and onboard new staff. It's like your very own recruiter.

Training Your Staff

Training is crucial, especially for temporary staff who may not be familiar with your restaurant's operations. According to a report from the American Society for Training and Development (2021), companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalized training[^4^].

Even a brief training session can make a big difference in ensuring that your staff can deliver quality service during the big event.

Even if you're just giving them the basics – the menu, the layout, the point-of-sale system – it's going to make a big difference.

The Balancing Act

How many staff is too many? 52% of restaurants reported being understaffed during high-volume periods negatively impacting their performance[^5^]. Overstaffing, on the other hand, can lead to increased labor costs.

The key is to find a balance. From personal experience having one or two extra staff members on standby can be a good insurance policy against unexpected rushes or last-minute staff cancellations. It is much easier to cut someone when service slows down rather than being in the weeds

Think of it as a safety net for when the inevitable chaos strikes.

The Final Word

Being in the restaurant business is like riding a wave – it's all about balance. Know your needs, find quality staff, train them right, and strike that perfect balance between overstaffing and understaffing.

Remember, a restaurant applicant tracking system can be your secret weapon here. Embrace the chaos, make decisions based on data, and you'll ride that wave like a pro.


[^1^]: National Restaurant Association. (2021). Restaurant Operations Report.

[^2^]: Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers.

[^3^]: Cornell University. (2023). The Impact of Staff Experience on Restaurant Performance.

[^4^]: American Society for Training and Development. (2021). State of the Industry Report.

[^5^]: Restaurant Business. (2022). The Staffing Crisis in the Restaurant Industry.


Marc LaPierre is a 10-year veteran of the food and hospitality industry, Certified Staffing Professional, and CEO/Founder of Clock’d + SEEN. From cooking in James Beard award-winning kitchens to opening and managing a nightclub in Mexico, he worked every job in the industry. Today he connects professionals looking to advance their careers with clients eager to find an all-star team.


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