There was a time when the phrase "Would you like fries with that?" was a running joke lampooning jobs in the food service industry, but no longer. With so many positions disappearing in other industries, people are more willing to do what it takes to put food on their own table-including putting food on someone else's.
I admit to looking back fondly at my own food service days; one of the best jobs I ever had was working at Baskin Robbins. Everyone's in a good mood when they come in to buy ice cream, and the sampling perks were unsurpassed.
It's a different thing to work in the food industry as a career-or as a stopgap while you look for other work- than to scoop chocolate cones as a teen. Still, with a number of restaurant companies reporting positive fourth-quarter earnings, it might behoove you to take a look at the most successful ones and think about applying to your local outlet. Job opportunities with these companies extend beyond service and food prep into management, training, purchasing, human resources, marketing, advertising and sales.
Overall, lagging consumer spending and customer traffic declines are taking a toll on many restaurants, but savvy owners have been fighting back and succeeding by offering discounted menu items and trimming their own fat. If you'd like to get a taste of what it's like to work in the restaurant industry, your best bet right now would probably be to apply for jobs at these chains:
This is the Orlando, Fla.-based parent company of the Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and The Capital Grille chains. They've reported favorable numbers and are putting the profits back into the business.
In fact, Red Lobster is doing well enough that the company plans to upgrade and remodel 45 to 50 restaurants in fiscal 2010, and another 120 to 150 locations in the following years. LongHorns are also getting makeovers that are aimed at increasing business. More business equals more jobs.
This family friendly chain has been literally giving away food and the promotion seems to be working; it just posted better-than-expected financial results.Denny's reported fourth-quarter net income of $17.9 million, compared to a net loss of $3.5 million over the same time last year. They're testing a "Right on the Menu" promotion, which offers value-priced options for 15 different items at $2, $4, $6 and $8. If this goes over well, there's a good chance they will be hiring more people to accommodate the increased business.
This Scottsdale, Ariz.-based chain actually doubled its profits in the fourth quarter, with sales jumping at its fast-casual Pei Wei restaurants. These would probably have the most job opportunities. The older P.F. Chang's is also still growing, too, but much of that growth is with its international franchises.
To see how your favorite restaurant chain is doing, check out Restaurant News's Market Monitor. Impress management by going into an interview with the latest financial facts in hand.