Making a success of a restaurant is a momentous task. Getting the food right is essential, but sometimes you walk into a restaurant and everything is perfectly in sync – the service, the atmosphere. There’s just a general vibe, an identity. They’ve figured out exactly how to run a restaurant.
According to chef and educator Paul Sorgule, who we feature regularly on the site, the key to running a "true restaurant" like this, to turning “the house into a home – a building into a restaurant” is staff who ascribe to the operation’s core philosophies and standards. These staff must be treated well and invested in, and there must be consistency across the board.
With this in mind, here are Sorgule’s top tips for running a successful restaurant, which you may find highly useful if you’re thinking of opening your own restaurant or if you want to push your current operation to the next level.
8 Essential Tips for Running a Successful Restaurant
1. Strong belief structure and operational philosophy
Look at the restaurants that everyone talks about and you will find that the concept is based, to a large degree, on a strong operational philosophy that is shared by everyone involved. It might be a focus on food ingredient integrity, a commitment to exceptional service, community involvement, or strong connections with a style of cooking, but something is part of the restaurants culture that unifies all the players and is evident to the guest. This is the soul of the operation.
2. Invest in the players
Dedicate resources to improving the skill set and lives of staff members – fair pay and benefits, continuing education, and even opportunities for individuals to build their personal brand with help from the restaurant.
3. Communicate the vision and the results
Great communicators drive true restaurants. Decisions are openly shared and explained, there is transparent sharing of financial performance, and solicited input from all staff members is normal business in true restaurants. To some degree, this same type of communication is offered to guests in an effort to create restaurant loyalty.
4. Listen and learn
True restaurants encourage staff members to offer input, share their ideas, concerns, and frustrations, and then digest this information as a learning process. It is evident to staff members that their input is welcome.
5. Consistent search for excellence
True restaurants are in constant pursuit of excellence. They do not accept mediocrity in any form and never allow anything but best effort to be evident to guests. As a result, every staff member – front and back of the house, is expected to emulate this attitude of excellence in everything that they do – regardless of how small the task might seem.
True restaurants encourage and set the stage for staff members to feel and act like owners. This is “their” restaurant and everything that leaves the kitchen, the bar, or the servers hand must carry that staff member’s invisible signature. As a result, when the restaurant succeeds, so to do the staff members succeed with positive financial implications for all.
7. Something bigger than the restaurant
Staff members, management, ownership, and even guests feel that their involvement goes beyond that of a job or a paying guest – their support of this business represents a connection to something bigger – they feel that they are making a difference.
8. Every plate counts
Cooks who work in these restaurants know that each plate that leaves the kitchen is a reflection of the operation’s philosophy and reputation, a reflection of each fellow employee’s personal brand, and a direct connection to their impact on the guest experience. Every plate must live up to this standard – no excuses. Those who transport that plate to the table, the individuals who proudly announce it to the guest, and the sommelier or bartender who recommends the perfect pairing, share this dedication and care.