Commentary: Being a restaurant manager is tough enough (in memory of Boston's Krystle Campbell)

April 17, 2013

By Barry Klein

The tragic events at the Boston Marathon are so horrible that we can hardly read about them without becoming sick. For those of us who live and love this industry, learning that one of the victims was a manager at a restaurant twisted the knife in our wounds. Krystle Campbell, age 29, was reportedly a gregarious, gracious and well-liked person who managed a restaurant near Boston, and was watching the marathon on her day off. Reports say, like any successful manager, she worked long hours and loved the job. Her customers were very happy with the experience she provided during her shifts.

As most of us know, the restaurant manager's job is difficult in the best of times, and a nightmare when something goes wrong, which can happen at any time. On April 15th, the ultimate tragedy reached Krystle. It's so sad to think about this young woman who had likely confronted issues from equipment breakdowns to difficult diners, in a situation where none of her talents could save her from a deranged bomber who murdered at random.

We are still learning about Krystle's life. And her occupation made how she spent most of her time quite familiar to restaurant people. While individual managers become anonymous to those who don't work with them, we can certainly relate to their ongoing responsibilities. Beginning with the great experience that will make customers return often, all of the details that comprise that great experience are on the shoulders of the manager: hiring the right people for both front and back of the house, training them, scheduling, food costs, ordering, food storage, maintenance, cleanliness, reports and paper work and more. The job is endless, and its hallmark is the willingness to stay with it until everything is done.

Making a career of restaurant management is not for everyone. It is hard work for many hours, with myriad duties that require many different skills. Many people have the desire to manage or own a restaurant, but few who begin the journey will complete it.

It is likely that Krystle was typical of her management colleagues in the industry who routinely accomplished whatever is necessary. My sympathies and condolences to all of those caught up in the Boston horror, including one of our industry's own...Krystle Campbell.

Barry Klein is best known for creating the Ronald McDonald character and led the "You Deserve A Break Today" advertising campaign for McDonald's. In his current occupation as a marketing consultant, Klein has developed concepts, new products and more for Coca Cola, Pizza Hut, Quiznos, Ruby Tuesday, Friendly’s, Perkins and others. He has been a key contributor to such projects as Stuffed Crust Pizza for Pizza Hut and Prime Rib Subs and Torpedoes for Quiznos.

Photo courtesy of hahatango.

Topics: Operations Management

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