Don’t let your ego cause your restaurant to fail

“I offered to give her a copy of your book, but she said she didn’t need it and already knew what she was doing.” My mom told me this two months ago. A new restaurant was opening soon next door to the store she works in, and she met the owner one afternoon. She proudly told the owner about Restaurant Owners Uncorked, but she told mom that while the book sounded “neat,” she didn’t need it. She went on to say that while she had never owned a restaurant, she had been to culinary school and had learned how to own and operate one.

Mom was sorta pissed. Of course that was because the lady had effectively rejected something her son had created. Mom also knew that this would be the fourth restaurant in that location in six years, and she figured it would be crazy for the new owner not to soak up as much knowledge as she could before going into such a tough location.

I told Mom to get over it. Let the lady do her thing. It didn’t bother me one bit. In fact, I joked with mom that one of the overriding lessons I learned from the twenty restaurant owners I interviewed was that owners that think they know it all and let their egos get in the way risk failure. My exact words to mom were, “I don’t hope she fails. But if she isn’t wise enough to accept a free book with advice from twenty people who’ve succeeded at what she’s trying to do, I wouldn’t bet on her.”

Since then I’ve eaten in the lady’s restaurant. Her food is good. It’s local and organic. It tastes fresh. It’s well prepared. She clearly has good culinary sense. But her portions were pretty small and she’s in Georgetown, S.C. which has a miserable economy right now and (I would guess) not a lot of people with $10 to spend on a “meat and two” when the drink doesn’t come with it and when the restaurant down the street may not have local and organic food, but only charges $7 for a “meat and two” – and the sweat tea comes with it.

One of the lessons printed on the back cover of the book is “Know Your Community Intimately.” Maybe she’ll figure that out. Maybe the book would have helped her do it faster.

Another lesson on the back of the book is “Check Your Ego at the Door.” I hope she learns this lesson soon. I like her food and so does Mom and I’d like to eat there with Mom again the next time I am in town.