Cheat Sheet

Running a Restaurant For Dummies

From Running a Restaurant For Dummies, 2nd Edition by Michael Garvey, Andrew G. Dismore, Heather Dismore

Running a restaurant is a tough business. Coming up with the concept, designing the menu, hiring the right staff, and running it from day to day are all difficult and time consuming. You need to develop the right attitude, promote the restaurant, keep an eye on the competition, and communicate with your customers. And you have to perform all of those tasks while you're cooking awesome food and providing top-notch service.

Using Social Media to Promote Your Restaurant

Increasingly, social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) is the way people connect with each other, celebrities, brands, products, and yes, even brick-and-mortar restaurants. To improve your restaurant's online presence, be aware that social media users want four key things from restaurants:

  • Promotions or discounts. Throw your customers an occasional 10-percent coupon exclusive via Facebook (or Twitter, foursquare, or whatever services you choose).

  • Exclusive content not available elsewhere. Post pictures of your patio opening party, or show video of your sommelier highlighting your new wine list.

  • Information about new products or services. Let your patrons know about your new happy-hour menu.

  • The ability to share their opinions. Thank customers for compliments and respond to criticism.

Tips for Staying Competitive in the Restaurant Business

Don't let the allure of gourmet food and the dreams of adoring customers fool you into thinking that running a restaurant is easy. It's not. A restaurant is a business like any other, which means that it has to be managed well to survive. These tips can help:

  • Play up your strengths and make them matter to your diners.

  • Analyze your competition, determine their deficiencies, and exploit them.

  • Identify your own deficiencies and address them quickly.

  • Continually create new, ownable points of difference between your restaurant and your competition.

  • Know your audience, realize how your points of difference matter to them, and then determine how to reach them.

Restaurant Menu Lingo That Sells

The menu is the center of your restaurant's universe. The menu conveys the restaurant's overall concept to your customers and should express the passion and care that goes into the food you're serving. The following advice can help you design a great menu:

  • Many attractive menu-item names start with the preparation method. Words like braised, seared, pan-fried, oven-roasted, wood-fired, and poached lend a level of prestige to a dish that increases a diner's perception of its value.

  • Incorporate reasons that a dish is special, different, or unique into the name. Is your beef dry aged? Are your eggs farm fresh? Is your bread baked in-house each morning? Is your produce locally grown or organic?

  • Great ingredients make for great descriptions. Are there any standouts or hard-to-find items? Does a dish contain seasonal items that you should highlight?

  • Highlight where the ingredients come from. Kansas City beef and South African cool-water lobster mean something to people.

  • Be more specific. Sure you're serving pasta, but what kind of pasta? Tell the guests whether it's fettuccine, linguine, capellini, or radiatore. And that sauce you're serving tonight is probably great, but be more descriptive — ragout, coulis, demi-glace, or reduction, for example. Getting down to specifics has the dual advantage of providing more information and enhancing the diner's perception of the dish.

Must-Have Personality Traits to Run a Successful Restaurant

Running a restaurant requires more than solid business skills and the willingness to work hard. Making your restaurant a success starts with the right attitude and these personality traits:

  • Tolerance

  • Business sense

  • Positive energy

  • Leadership skills

  • Schmoozability

  • Passion

  • Presence

  • Persistence

  • Ability to balance your life inside and outside the restaurant

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