The restaurant industry is unparalleled in its generosity when it comes to sharing good ideas. It’s something we take a lot of pride in, and you can see it every time two or more restaurant operators get in a room together. Whether it’s at the annual National Restaurant Association conference or just over a cup of coffee, the excitement is palpable when restaurant people get together. But with busy schedules and long days, the opportunities don’t come as often as we’d like. So in the meantime, we’ve pulled together 10 incredible resources to tuck under your arm or dive into before bed. These are books written by restaurant and food industry experts for their peers — you!
Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business
When you’re CEO of Manhattan’s 11 successful restaurants, including a growing chain, and at the forefront of the no tipping restaurants model, you might just have some insight into how to build a business. Danny Meyer breaks down his lessons learned and lays out his theory on hospitality in this 2008 autobio/philosophical tome. The customer may not always be right, he says, but “they must always feel heard.”
It’s All About the Guest: Exceeding Expectations In Business And In Life, The Davio’s Way
If you’ve ever considered opening a new restaurant — or just want to read along as someone figures out success, this book is the one for you and Steve DiFillippo is the man to follow. DiFillippo gets into everything, from managing the tiniest details (in decor, budgeting, staffing, costs, and critics) to creating an overarching experience for guests that can’t help but inspire loyalty. And DiFillippo isn’t just a restaurant owner; he and his restaurants are also longtime Rewards Network partners – he even mentions Rewards Network in the book! Yet another way Davio’s has put loyalty at the center of their business.
Restaurant Owners Uncorked: Twenty Owners Share Their Recipes for Success
20 different viewpoints from 20 different owners (including Rewards Network partner Buca di Beppo’s founder Phil Roberts) that all add up to this: you can do it. But you’ve got to do it smart. And the lessons don’t stop at just opening a restaurant for the first time. No matter where you are in your career in this industry, this book offers insightful — and candid — takes on marketing, customer service, hiring, and more. And the variety of experience across all different restaurant segments means there’s something powerful for everyone who picks it up.
Cooking Up a Business: Lessons from Food Lovers Who Turned Their Passion into a Career — and How You Can, Too
Most restaurateurs know how difficult it is to build a brand from scratch, no matter how much passion they have for their business. Hofstetter takes her background as food editor for O Magazine and profiles businesses that started from nothing competing with national brands for attention — and how they did it. From Vosges Haut-Chocolat to evol., this practical walk-through takes your passion for food and helps you build a business around it for the larger market. Primarily a guide to marketing products, many of the same lessons can be applied to marketing your restaurant brand in an industry full of big name franchises.
Lessons in Service
When you think ultimate dining experience, it’s hard not to have the late Charlie Trotter’s name pop into your head. Trotter detailed how “the little things” are the center of your building an experience your customers will never forget — and how they are also the things that will bring them (and their friends) back. Need ideas on coordinating your front of house and back of house staffs? It’s in here. Want to know how you should treat new and repeat visitors differently? It’s in here. If there’s one thing Trotter knew better than anything else, it’s to leave nothing to chance.
The Profitable Wine List: Three Steps to Quickly & Easily Increase Wine Sales
Kirsten Henry Fox
Not every restaurant can afford (or needs) a sommelier to curate and sell their wine list. With Kirsten Henry Fox’s advice, you can build up your tools for selling wine to your customers in a smart and helpful way. Fox digs into how to make your wine list profitable, how to suggest pairings to your customers that accent the food you already serve, and how to fit training on wine selling into your regular routine. Plus, it’s an easy guide to making sure you’re not losing money in the process of selling wine, as well.
Restaurant Success by the Numbers, Second Edition: A Money-Guy’s Guide to Opening the Next New Hot Spot
They often say the first year is the hardest for any business, but nowhere is that as true as for restaurateurs. You’ve got to be an idea generator, marketer, customer service guru, and money master all at once. And while balancing all those plates, you need to make sure you’re making a profit too. Why else do it, right? Fields gets into the weeds on concept, location, menu, ambiance, staff, and how to make sure you’re getting your money back on the investment in your restaurant. Updated in 2014, this book has long been the food entrepreneur’s best friend and advisor.
The Franchise MBA: Mastering the 4 Essential Steps to Owning a Franchise
Nick Neonakis, MBA
Not every restaurant needs to be built from the ground up, especially when the opportunity for franchise ownership is a popular and profitable option in the restaurant industry. Nick Neonakis breaks down the complicated process of getting your own business through a franchise into four easily understood steps that take an honest look at the model. It also presents a look into how you position yourself to the franchisor — and it’s just as important as how you present yourself to your customers!
Good Food, Great Business: How to Take Your Artisan Food Idea from Concept to Marketplace
Artisan craft is all the rage and can be a profitable extension for any restaurant business. Wyshak breaks down the path to launching a new product from idea to final display with over 75 real life examples from those who succeeded — and those who didn’t (and why). If you’ve ever considered adding a product line to your restaurant (or if you don’t have a restaurant and want to start out small), this is the place to start.
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t
OK, this one isn’t written by a restaurant owner, or specifically for restaurant owners. But Sinek does have insight on how to make your staff a powerful team that every restaurant operator can learn from. Getting your team to work together and ultimately be able to say “I love my job” is not just good for employee satisfaction. It’s going to make your guests happier and your business more successful.
Want more insight into developing staff that build on your restaurant’s success? Check out our three-part series on hiring, training, and retaining great employees: