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What To Expect When Becoming A Restaurant Owner


Photography by Cole Wilson

Owning a restaurant can be a dream come true. The intoxicating aroma of sizzling garlic, the symphony of clinking plates and happy chatter, the pride of seeing your culinary vision come to life. With 63% of adults having worked in the restaurant industry according to the (National Restaurant Association), it serves as the nation’s training ground for aspiring entrepreneurs and restaurant owners. But before you dive headfirst into fryer oil and menu planning, there’s a crucial reality check needed. There are clear opportunities for growth and expansions in the restaurant industry. The size of the U.S. foodservice market that is expected to grow to $1,767.54 billion by 2030 (Fortune Business Insights). Amidst the allure and potential of restaurant ownership lies a stark reality: the industry demands resilience, adaptability, and strategic foresight. Here is what you’ll need to know to successfully manage your business as a restaurant owner.

Restaurant ownership is not for the faint of heart. It’s a pressure cooker of long hours, demanding tasks, and razor-thin margins. But for those with the passion, the grit, and the culinary savvy, it can also be an incredibly rewarding, soul-stirring journey.

Here’s a taste of what awaits you on your restaurant owner adventure:

1. The Three Keys to Starting a Restaurant

  • Financial Finesse: It all boils down to numbers. You’ll need a solid understanding of budgeting, cost control, and financial forecasting. Restaurant spending was up 6.7% YTD in 2023 (2023 Restaurant Trend Report) so you’re going to want to have an organized system in place to track costs and margins effectively. Be prepared to pore over invoices, negotiate with suppliers, and chase down payments. Think spreadsheets, not soufflés. You can dive deeper into understanding costs by reading our The Restaurant Food Costing Guide For Franchise Operators blog.
  • Legal Labyrinth: From permits and licenses to employment law and food safety regulations, the legal landscape can be daunting. Get ready to befriend lawyers and accountants – they’ll be your new sous chefs.
  • Marketing Maestro: In today’s digital age, a killer website and social media presence are essential. You’ll need to be a whiz at online marketing, promotions, and building a loyal customer base. If you don’t have the time or man power to conquer this solo NO WORRIES! We have a blog/solution that might be worth looking into for your business and sanity. How To Outsource Restaurant Marketing (Without Breaking The Bank)

2. The Operational Oven

  • People Pleaser: From picky eaters to demanding regulars, you’ll wear many hats: chef, therapist, conflict mediator, and customer service extraordinaire. Something that might be of encouragement when thinking of opening a restaurant is 63% of diners are choosing local, independent restaurants over chains or franchises (2023 Diner Trends Report). This can work to your advantage for creating an intimate space for diners to enjoy. Patience and emotional intelligence will be your secret ingredients.
  • Master of Logistics: Juggling inventory, scheduling staff, maintaining equipment, and ensuring smooth service is an intricate dance. 65% of restaurateurs have now automated inventory management in their restaurant (2024 State of Restaurants Report) to mitigate the amount of work needed. Organizational skills and the ability to think on your feet are key. You’re also going to want to keep costs at bay. Here are 7 Restaurant Purchasing Best Practices.
  • Quality Control Czar: Food safety and hygiene are paramount. You’ll be the guardian of cleanliness, ensuring every dish that leaves your kitchen is flawless and fit for a king (or queen!).

3. The Emotional Rollercoaster

  • Thrills of Victory: The joy of a packed house, rave reviews, and satisfied customers is unparalleled. These are the moments that make the blood, sweat, and tears worthwhile. Enjoy and savor the wins as they come but always be ready to roll with the punches as they undoability will show up.
  • Burns of Defeat: Negative reviews, slow nights, and unexpected challenges can be crushing. Resilience and the ability to adapt are your armor against the inevitable setbacks. 81% of restaurateurs use Facebook to promote their business, making it the #1 social media site for restaurant marketing in the U.S. (2024 State of Restaurants Report) Leverage social to your advantage. Take positive and negative feedback and adjust accordingly where and when you can. You’ll never be able to make everyone happy but for the sake of your business transparency will be vital.

4. The Verdict

Owning a restaurant is undeniably one of the most challenging endeavors you’ll ever undertake. It will push you to your limits and test your resilience. In the initial stages, financial constraints will be a constant challenge, demanding long hours of hard work with little profitability in sight. Dealing with staff turnover and managing customer expectations can be emotionally draining in this demanding industry. However, persistence is key. Continuously hone your non-food skills and prioritize investing in your team’s growth every day. Remember, amidst the challenges lie opportunities for immense success. 9 in 10 adults say they enjoy going to restaurants as they allow them to enjoy a favorite meal that has flavor and taste. These are experience that can’t easily be replicated at home. (National Restaurant Association) So stay dedicated, and when you do succeed, the rewards will be substantial – both personally and for the restaurant you’ve worked so hard to build.

Bonus Tip: Before jumping in, consider getting some industry experience by working in different restaurant roles. This will give you invaluable insights and help you decide if restaurateur life is truly for you.

5. Ready set…

So, are you ready to turn up the heat? If the answer is a resounding “Hell’s yeah!”, then grab your apron, kiss your comfort zone goodbye, and get ready for the ride of your life. The restaurant business awaits!

As you embark on your journey into restaurant ownership, remember that it’s a path filled with both passion and potholes. However, with the right mix of dedication, flexibility, and a touch of boldness, you can craft a restaurant business that will leave everyone craving more. HungerRush is here to support you every step of the way on your path to success. Don’t forget, a reliable POS system is a crucial ingredient for your recipe of success. Request a free demo today and let us help turn your dreams into reality!

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