We’re stoked to announce the title of our book. Restaurant Owners Uncorked: Twenty Successful Owners Share Their Recipes for Success. Here’s the introduction to the book, which will be available soon. If you own a restaurant, want to own a restaurant, or want to know how restaurant owners think, you’ll love this book!
Wes Aiken, Tyler Rullman, and I own Schedulefly. Restaurants are our customers, and because so many restaurants fail, we were curious about what makes successful restaurant owners tick. We wondered how they are able to successfully do what so many others fail at. What do they do differently from the rest? Was it critical that they had attended culinary school? Had they all worked in restaurants since they were young? Did their success tie back to creating a sound business plan? Was it all about location, location, location? Did they share common philosophies on how they treat employees? Or how they create awareness? Or how to create the perfect customer experience? The overarching question was, “Is there a secret recipe for restaurant success?”
We couldn’t find a resource that answered this question, so we decided to find the answer ourselves. We interviewed twenty successful owners, and this book is a collection of those interviews.
Whether you aspire to own a restaurant, or already own one, this book will help you. It will help you increase your chances of success, or, perhaps, will help you realize that owning a restaurant is not for you, before you are arms deep in debt, stress, and the realization that you’ve chosen the wrong career path. Even if you’ve owned a restaurant for twenty years, you’ll learn something from your peers.
We spoke to a diverse range of owners, from Phil Roberts, founder of Buca di Beppo and The Oceanaire Seafood Room, to Scott Leibfried, a renowned figure in the culinary industry who is part of the cast of HELL’S KITCHEN on Fox, to Kevin Doherty, who owns a successful restaurant and pub while also serving as a Chicago fireman, to Chris Sommers, who makes Chicago-style deep dish pizza so well (in St. Louis) that he was invited to the White House to cook it for President Obama and the first family. And so on.
In one way or another, almost all of the owners conveyed these three common philosophies: 1) Ignore your ego, and be ready to work your ass off. Ownership ain’t easy street, and you better be ready to devote a heck of a lot of time at your restaurant, especially in the first few years. Be ready to have to mop your dish room floor at 3:00 AM on New Year’s Day, because your dish guy quit. 2) Treat your employees very well, and with genuine respect. Don’t be their boss. Be their leader. They are the front line, and they have most of the contact with your customers. Happy, fulfilled employees are your key to success. Unhappy employees will be the cause of your demise. 3) Partnerships are like marriages, so be very careful when you choose a partner. Failed partnerships often lead to failed restaurants. Your best friend may be your worst partner. Find the ying to your yang.
So there is somewhat of a secret recipe for success. These are your base ingredients. Use them, and you’re off to a great start. Don’t use them, and you’re taking a huge risk.
However, we also learned that you’ll need to sprinkle in many other ingredients, and those are up to you. These owners’ opinions varied greatly on many topics. Some will tell you to go big with advertising. Others will tell you to leverage word-of-mouth instead. Some will tell you to build institutions that stand on their own. Others will tell you to build concepts that can be replicated. Some will tell you to only serve a few things, but be the best at them. Others will tell you to find a way to serve the customers anything they want.
Ultimately, this book will give you the critical ingredients, and give you lots of options on additional ingredients to add, so that you can create your own secret recipe for success.
Wil, Tyler and Wes
The Schedulefly Crew