Almost half of all Americans have made a successful career out of their work in the restaurant industry. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, 90 percent of current restaurant industry managers began their career as a server or other hourly employee. Eight out of ten restaurant owners also worked as an hourly employee in a restaurant before investing in their own establishment.

If you’re concerned your current position in the food industry is a dead-end job, it’s simply not true. We’ve researched a few options for you.


Light Up The Bar As A Flair Bartender

You may be too young to have seen Cocktail in theaters, but you have probably seen bartenders juggling bottles and pouring drinks using tricks inspired by Tom Cruise’s character. As a flair bartender you’ll do more than shake and pour the typical Rum & Coke. Helicopters, tomahawks, and shadow passes will be your new flair moves. And also, your way to take home more tips!


Some of the tricks of the trade are fairly simple to learn. In general, there are two ways to flair up your bartending game: on your own or through a course. If you decide to learn on your own, ask co-workers to put you in touch with a pro who can mentor you along the way. Another way to get started is by studying Youtube videos like those we linked to above.


Most flair bartenders perfect their skills in their local nightlife scene. Vacation cities like New York and Los Angeles, or casino cities like Las Vegas and New Jersey are where they move to advance their careers.


Manage A Wine Program As a Sommelier

If wine is more your style, investing in a career as a sommelier is a good idea. You’ll learn about the major wine regions, and the type of wines they produce. Basically, your study time will include drinking wine, so it can’t be that bad, right?


You’ll also need to identify the flavors you taste with tasting notes, and to distinguish minor differences between similar wines.


Becoming a sommelier is about knowing what kinds of tastes your guests will enjoy, and pairing your wines with the menu offerings. These skills are often honed as a server or bartender in the restaurant industry. Hotel banquet staff jobs are also common entry-level positions for hopeful sommeliers. Most employers do not require sommeliers to hold a certification, but this can give you a competitive advantage in your job search.


Wine Folly offers a comprehensive look at your choices for certification courses. Also, joining the Guildsomm online community of sommeliers is not strictly necessary, but it could help you make connections, get job leads and even have some fun.


Start A Food Truck Business

Are you social media savvy and have a trendy specialty food idea? There are many advantages of running your own food truck over a traditional brick-and-mortar spot. The start-up costs are lower, and you’ll need less staff on hand. Plus, you’ll be able to focus on a specific specialty food rather than offer a broad menu.


Requirements to start a food truck business include the capital to invest in the truck and obtaining the proper local licenses and permits. Though, more recently, cities have been tightening regulations on food truck operators. If you have question about financing options, we have a few business credit tips for you.


Successful food truck owners are creative individuals who have back-of-house restaurant experience along with the business savvy to market their operation. In some cases, partnerships between two or more restaurant industry veterans allow owners who have limited experience in one area excel by managing only one aspect of running the business. Do your research to get a realistic idea of what it takes to run a successful food truck business.


Decorate Food As A Food Stylist

You’ve heard of wardrobe stylists and makeup stylists, how about a food stylist? Food stylists work with photographers to make food look fresh and tasty. You may be thinking, “Isn’t that what a chef does anyway?” True (at least we hope so). As a food stylist your clients would be magazines or fancy hotels who want professional photographs of their food.


If you’re thinking about a career as a food stylist, you should start learning about preparation techniques and plating food. Did you know motor oil is sometimes used in the place of pancake syrup? A lot of real food is tough to photograph, so these are the kinds of tricks you’ll be expected to know.


Fine dining restaurants may be the best place to gain experience since plating and presentation are important skill sets. You’ll also be expected to cook your own food, so a culinary degree would help you as well.


From there, most people go on to an internship or position as an assistant to a professional food stylist. This allows them to learn tips and tricks of the trade while also gaining more experience prepping, cooking and plating different foods. While assisting a professional stylist, do not forget to build a strong portfolio to present to potential clients or in job interviews.

Summing It Up

Many people tend to think of restaurant jobs as a way to pay the bills until a better opportunity comes around, but in reality they are far from dead-end jobs. The industry offers a wealth of engaging careers. Opportunities are available to almost anyone who dreams of showcasing their talent on larger platform, beyond the dining room.