Goddam, what should I do?

Career question.

I’ve been a cook in the restaurant business for almost 31 years.

After 31 years, I’m really tired of making “above minimum” wage. Here in Washington, I’m making $11/hour as a cook.

I’ve been perusing Craigslist, and I’ve noticed that Starbucks is looking for an Assistant Manager. And they’re offering $18/hour.

I’m tempted to apply, but … I have no experience in management. I just have 31 years of experience in foodservice.

I’m fucking 48 years old, and I’m tired of working for barely over minimum. Can I do wrong byapplying for a management position with Starbucks? All they can say is “NO”.

I think you answered it yourself - the worst that can happen is you don’t get the job (which you don’t have now, anyway). Even a rejection could be helpful - you can ask them what specific skills they are looking for that you could acquire.

They might be willing to train! You seem like a good candidate - lots of experience in foodservice, looking for a career. Try it!

Have you ever worked under a really good restaurant manager? If so, do you know what they do? Do you think you could do it too? You probably could, right? Shoot for it!

Get out of restaurants and into hotels.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Heh. I left the hotel business last year.

Why? That’s where the opportunities are. Banquet Chef, Sous Chef, Exec Chef. For someone with your experience in the kitchen there is nowhere to go but up.

Go for it, they could very well hire you! Good luck!

Yeah, that’d be great, but it ain’t gonna happen. No sane person is going to offer a management position to someone who has spent thirty years as a line cook with no supervisory experience.

Do it. I was a barista at a competing coffee shop for a couple years (many moons ago). I made good money with tips, and had full health coverage only working 20 hours a week.

You have a step up with your already working knowledge of sanitation and food handling. You may have a step down if you don’t know about coffee tasting and what goes into pulling a good shot. Though I’m not as sure about that last point with Starbucks these days and those automatic machines, that comes from my work at the competitor in 2000-2002 and the managers there had to be good tasters and really know their stuff about coffee, and the whole process from planting to harvesting to roasting and the parts of the world our coffees came from.

Hell, if the management position doesn’t work out, see about becoming a barista. Seriously, in the morning shifts I made $10 an hour and could easily go home with another $50 in tips after splitting with two other people, and that was a long time ago. Be prepared to become obsessed with beautiful crema and perfect foam!

After 31 years did you pick up any other responsibilities or skills while working those positions? Inventorying food or supplies? Training others? Supervising others? Involved with planning resources (food, supplies, labor)? In other words did you ever get your hands dirty digging into any of the backroom workings of the business or did you just come and go for 31 years doing the same isolated job?
I’m sure after that amount of time in the business you know the most efficient way to run a kitchen and maximize output and recognize constraints in the process. That is if you didn’t have blinders on for all that time.
Starbucks is all about streamlining the process. Maximizing the output with the least amount of people while maintaining the quality. Your experinece could be invaluable if you know how to do this and can give examples of you doing this throughout your career.

We’ll, I’d consider an exit strategy first, that way, if it doesn’t work out you’ll be prepared!

By exit strategy I mean, don’t up your lifestyle costs to your new pay levels for say a year. Ask yourself if you’ll be able to handle it if you discover you suck at management ? Possibly on the day they can you. Will you be able to go happily back to your other position or will you be ever bitter and defeated? How are you currently with management? Do you cooperate and abide the rules they set? Or do you bad mouth them and undermine them behind their backs? Think they’re all idiots?

I too have spent my life working in restaurants, I can appreciate where you’re coming from about wanting to explore something new. And there is a good chance you have learned a lot about management that’s good and effective, and your maturity and experience will certainly serve you well. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be either good at it or happy with it. The only real way to find out is to give it a try.

One of the single best things about working in restaurants, in my experience is, if you don’t like this one, there’s another one down the street. As you well know, there are few barriers indeed to jobs if you’re good at the work. It’s not like many other industries where one bad fit could mean you’ll never work again.

Secondly I’d recommend asking the managers where you currently work if they think you have the skills. (You can say it’s out of town, you’re just toying with the idea, etc!) Also it would be very helpful to you, if you undertake the job, to have a couple of experienced restaurant managers you might call up for advice. Of course this assumes you’re comfortable doing so.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the saying goes, so why not try?

Good Luck !

Keep in mind that your experience has (I’m speculating from what you’ve described) been mostly in the kitchen, and not the front of the house where you are facing customers. Starbucks (and fast food in general) requires a customer service point of view, to go along with the food prep aspects.

Just keep that in mind if you do end up interviewing.

I have not seen any chain stores using anything but automatic espresso machines in the last few years.

I was a “banquet chef” (which in reality meant “glorified prep cook”) for five and a half years while employed by the fanciest hotel in my city. The hotel had the contract to staff the city convention center. I worked directly under the Executive Chef (the “Sous Chef” managed the kitchen in the hotel restaurant). While my wage was better there than at my current job, I left because of the seasonal nature of the convention business. Four months out of the year (Jan-Feb and July-Aug) I had almost no work.

That was fine when I was sharing a house and splitting expenses with two other people - my savings would easily carry me through the slow seasons. But two years ago I got my own place, with nobody to share expenses. Combine that with a “natural disaster” in 2012 killing the September convention bookings right when my savings were depleted and I was looking forward to the usual September heavy work schedule (it took almost a full year to get caught up financially after that) and then in July-Aug 2013 I had three consecutive car problems that I simply didn’t have the money to pay for. All that convinced me to find a new job with a consistent income from month to month.

I had a brief stint as “delivery coordinator” at Godfather’s Pizza, but that was 20+ years ago. I’ve been responsible for food/supply ordering at one restaurant. And at my current job, after the corporate overlords decided to fire my boss (which effectively also cost us our other cook, since she was the kitchen manager’s daughter), I was left to run the entire kitchen of a retirement home all by myself for almost three weeks, including doing all of the ordering.

I’m all about efficiency!

I’d say apply, it sounds like you have some of the skill set needed for a store manager already. With no actual managerial experience getting a job as a manager right now will probably be a long shot, but if they like you they may have other positions in your area for a shift leader or an assistant manager. In each case you’ll learn on the job and if you perform well then you’ll be on the short list for a managers position when one opens up.

Arg. It occurred to me today that I totally do not have the wardrobe to even interview for a job like this. My current wardrobe is all jeans and t-shirts. My “nice” shirts are many years old and no longer fit me, I have no nice slacks, and I lost all of my ties when my storage unit was robbed a couple years ago. And as I am flat broke at the moment, I can’t even buy a nice shirt and tie.

I’ve had very good luck at the resale shops around here. See if there are any in your area. Khakis, a shirt and tie will set you back less than $10.

Nonsense! Just asked Oldest, who has been in food service and hospitality for ten years or so, and she said, “Current food service licence so they don’t have to pay for classes? Knows his way around a restaurant? How much experience, 31 years? He should be a shoe-in.”

Remember, this is Starbucks, and if they are like every other fast food joint I assume they go through asst managers like Kleenex (See: my Oldest). But you have a better idea of what pressure is than anybody I’ve ever seen at Starbucks, so it might almost seem like a vacation. A vacation with annoying, needy, bitchy customers. God, I hate customers. Maybe you should re-think this. :wink: