“When you are trying to move mountains, you want – and need – people on your side who want to move them with you.” Those wise words came from Jamie Oliver, one of the most famous restaurateurs in the world. If you want to open a successful restaurant, you can’t do it alone.
But when you first start, you’re alone. Before you think about what to look for when hiring a chef or finding a venue, it’s just you. That’s why there are a few traits that every budding restaurant owner needs to possess.
Keep reading to learn those skills and how they tie into the restaurant business.
What does a restaurant need from its owner?
Before we get into our list of traits, let’s start with the basics: what does the word mean? We define “restaurateur” as a person who owns and manages a restaurant. Aka, a restaurant owner. Newcomers or students often misspell the word as “restauranteur.”
Ready for a quick history lesson? This french term came into popularity after the French revolution. Before that time, there were at most 50 restaurants nationwide.
But after the cultural changes of the revolution, french chefs who once worked for the monarchy found a new path. Ordinary bakers and butchers finally had the freedom to expand their businesses. And voila, the French restaurateur emerged.
What Does a Restaurant Need?
For a restaurant business to succeed, these five elements must run through every part of it:
- Scalability. You don’t have to turn your restaurant into an international food franchise. But no good business (or restaurant) stands still. Be ready to roll with the punches.
- Consistency. Humans crave consistency. The more consistent your service and quality of food, the more likely you are to win people back repeatedly.
- Profitability. This one is simple; no money, no business. You could host the best food with the best service, but it’s over if you don’t have a profit.
- Memorability. Think about your last memorable meal out. It didn’t take long, did it? And you can most likely remember the taste, smell, ambiance and host who served you.
- Sustainability. Around half of consumers say a restaurant’s efforts to donate food, reduce waste and recycle factor into their dining choices.
Pair those five elements with the ten traits all great restaurateurs have, and you’re golden.
How to Become a Restaurateur: 10 Traits to Hone
At last, it’s time for us to share some of the secret ingredients in the “how to become a restaurateur” recipe. Don’t just breeze through this list. Write it down, consider how you embody these traits, and build them into your business plan.
1. Be a Lifelong Learner
There isn’t a business owner on this planet that doesn’t consistently learn each day.
You’ll never ‘perfect’ the art of being a restaurateur, but that’s not the point. It’s far more critical to have the willingness to learn and see every mistake made as an opportunity to improve.
2. Solid Business Sense
People outside of the food industry get this wrong all the time. They think you’re not a business owner if you’re not sitting behind a big desk in a big city. But dining establishments are businesses, first and foremost.
As a restaurateur, you must ensure the venue turns a healthy profit. After all, most restaurants fail because they can’t make ends meet. Keep your eye on average restaurant profit margins.
You must pay staff, cover the rent, buy stock, and have some left over for growth. That calls for a keen sense for dealmaking, attracting customers, and keeping your restaurant staff incentivized.
3. What Trait do the Top Restaurateurs Have? Dedication.
People used to say that more than half of all new restaurants fail in the first years. Here’s the good news: that’s untrue. Ready for the actual number? According to the National Restaurant Association, it’s more like 30%.
While it’s more manageable than the first statistic, it’s still tricky.
Stressful days and long hours are part of what you do. You have to accept that and turn it into motivation. Even on the most challenging days, you have to commit 110%. That’s what separates the top restaurateurs from the crowd.
4. Wide Skill Set
There’s a reason the most successful restaurateur is just as adept at pot washing as they are negotiating with suppliers.
The only way you’ll ever understand the inner workings of restaurants is by learning each job within the industry. You’ll need to get your hands dirty - literally - and work with your team rather than above them.
5. Have A Creative Mind
There’s so much competition facing restaurant owners. To win diners’ minds, you need to be creative with your offerings.
From the menu to the restaurant decor and marketing output, be creative. Don’t just copy what the next person is doing. Find a unique voice so you can stand out from the crowd.
6. Organizational Mastery
There are so many items on the daily to-do list of a restaurateur. From managing the team to budgeting, menu planning and marketing, it never stops. That means you must embrace organization.
It’s a massive juggling act, but one made easier through order and discipline.
7. Consistent, Strong Leadership
Even if you know how to do all back and front-of-house duties, you can still lead from the top.
It’s what your team wants and needs: a consistent, approachable and confident leader. They look to you for guidance, counsel and support. They rely on you to hire the right people to work alongside them. Every great restaurateur is a great leader.
8. The Most Successful Restaurateurs Have a Personable Attitude
How you conduct yourself when walking into the restaurant each day sets the scene for that shift. It’s why the most successful restaurateurs are also the most personable and relatable.
We opened with a Jamie Oliver quote for a reason. If you’re not familiar with him, he’s built a brand based on his approachability. Those qualities keep customers coming back for more.
9. Lots of Energy
Restaurant owners are desk jockeys. To be a successful restaurateur, you need serious stamina.
Those endless hours often occur when others curl up in front of the TV after their 9 to 5. In your world, everything will happen at a lightning pace. Can you handle it?
10. Passion for the Industry
One word that should be synonymous with restaurateur? Passion. It sounds obvious, but countless restaurateurs enter the game without an ounce of the stuff.
You have to love this world. From the food to the intricacies of running a restaurant operation, you must yearn to do it. Why? Because once you’re in, you’ll never want to out.
Did you read that list and realize you have what it takes to join the ranks of great restaurateurs? We’d like to continue helping you along that path.
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