There is something truly wonderful about the idea of being a restaurateur.
It seems like it would be a business opportunity that would be effortlessly classy; allowing you to delight in pleasing your customers, immersing yourself in creating the perfect menu, and delighting over creating the best ambiance for your establishment.
What’s more, it can be lucrative; get it right, and you could be the next restaurateur millionaire.
However, as is always the case in life, there is often a discrepancy between the idea of what life would be like… and what the reality might actually be.
If you have given serious thought to opening your own restaurant, then you’ll want to read on, as we delve into the essential characteristics that all restaurateurs need to possess…
… a natural gift for customer service
This might sound like an odd requirement for a restaurant owner; after all, many owners never even meet their customers. Instead, the owner deals with matters “behind the scenes” while wait staff and the maitre d’ deal with the customer-facing roles.
However, there will be times when you have to step out into the restaurant itself to resolve an issue. Unfortunately, angry patrons are part and parcel of the restaurant industry.
If a patron demands to speak with the owner, then try to engage with them as quickly as possible. The louder a patron gets, the more the experience of all the other diners is ruined— and it’s these people you’re trying to protect.
So, every once in awhile, you’ll need to step in front of an irate customer and solve their problem— through gritted teeth if you have to. It’s important that you’re willing to do this not for the irate customer, but for everyone else; if not, the angry customer will ruin everyone’s night, and your chances of returning customers from such an evening are next to zero.
If you’re on the premises, you have to be willing to get involved and resolve the issue with your very best customer-facing smile on your face.
… the ability to balance a menu to ensure all customers are provided for
The modern world has allowed more people to become aware of their food allergies, as well as digestive issues such as Celiac Disease. This is genuinely wonderful and has made life better for a lot of people but as a restaurant owner… it can be difficult.
As a result of people’s new awareness of different food allergens and intolerances, creating a meal that everyone can eat is near enough impossible. Instead, you have to take the time to create and refine a menu that most people can eat, and you need to ensure there’s plenty of substitutes available if people need to make a change out of medical necessity.
Then there are the two severe dietary restrictions; peanut allergies and Celiac. As a restaurateur, you cannot ignore these, because they have potentially fatal consequences: peanut allergies can cause fatal anaphylaxis, while Celiac sufferers eating gluten can cause them to eventually develop cancer.
If you offer a gluten-free or peanut-free menu, you have to ensure you’ve done it correctly and have taken the time to obtain certification where necessary.
Alternatively, you can avoid guaranteeing that your products are nut/gluten free and let patrons decide for themselves. As your business matures, you will likely have more time and money to go fully gluten or peanut-free; in the meantime, it might be best to keep things simple.
… the ability to juggle a variety of responsibilities at once
Running a restaurant is an incredibly time-consuming, demanding and non-stop experience. You will find yourself on the go constantly, juggling a thousand and one tasks— and you’ll often find yourself working around the clock too.
You’ll spend your mornings going through your restaurant insurance quotes to find the best deal, your afternoons perfecting the specials menu, and your evenings dealing with customer complaints and overseeing your staff.
The restaurateur life is definitely not an easy one, and you’re going to have to have excellent organizational abilities to ensure you can cope with such a heavy schedule.
However, that’s not to say it’s a life you shouldn’t pursue. As well as being hard, demanding work, running a restaurant is also incredibly satisfying, and you’ll probably find that the hard work is 100% worth it.
It’s just important that you understand how demanding the restaurant industry can be, so you’re not going to get any unpleasant surprises should you decide to forge ahead with your restaurant plans.
If you do find yourself struggling, just remember that it is likely temporary. As your restaurant establishes itself, you should be able to step back and delegate your responsibilities, so you shouldn’t be consumed by work forever.
… a desire to create a positive, uplifting working environment for your staff
Sadly, the restaurant industry is not one that lends itself to staff retention. You will likely experience high staff turnover whatever you do, but you’ll still want to try and prevent this as far as you possibly can. Staff turnover is costly for a company, so going the extra mile to ensure the staff you have are as happy and as content as possible is extremely beneficial.
Many people believe that working in a restaurant is like something from Kitchen Nightmares, but it’s vital that you don’t ever let this become a reality. Yes, running a restaurant is stressful, but intervening to ensure staff doesn’t take this out on one another is crucial for any restaurant owner.
Set a behavior policy all staff must adhere to and enforce it whenever necessary. You have to be willing to go the extra mile to keep your staff happy to succeed in the restaurant industry; if not, you’ll waste far too much time and too many resources on replacing staff, and it will be tough for you to generate a profit.
If you have always dreamt of owning your own restaurant but, having read through the above, fear there may be a characteristic you’re missing— don’t worry!
If there’s an area where you suspect you may be weaker than is ideal, that’s okay— just think about how you can overcome this issue, and formulate a way of adapting so that your restaurateur aspirations can become a reality.
Are you thinking about starting your own restaurant?