How To Run A Restaurant Without Setting Your Hair On Fire
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Owning a restaurant is a labor of love. And like with all great loves, it’s both the best and worst thing that will ever happen to you.

At first, it seemed like a perfect idea. You love food, hospitality, and being your own boss. You really love doing things your way to make sure it’s done right. And you revel in the delight of the people who get to enjoy a meal and a relaxing night out in your restaurant. But now that you’ve done all the grunt work, hired employees, set the menu, stocked the bar — bled, sweat, and cried — and finally opened your doors, you’ve realized your work has just begun.

You will soon discover, if you haven’t already, that running a restaurant is not as glamorous as it seems in the movies. It requires hours upon hours of hard work, lots of discipline, and even more sacrifice. If you aren’t burnt out yet, you might be soon. But there are ways to avoid it and keep yourself, as well as your business, going.


If you surround yourself with capable, passionate people at the start, you’ll save yourself a world of aggravation. In a list of rules for running a restaurant, a Chicago chef and restaurant owner says, “Working with people is never easy, and no one is perfect. Building a team of folks who all have the passion for the same goal is not easy … In this business you have to continue to train your assets. Sometimes it’s better to say goodbye, but investing time in an employee who is willing to learn and shares a passion for the common goal is priceless. It’s how good restaurants survive.” suggests starting the process of hiring by imagining your ideal employee. Next, look to your current star employees for the characteristics that make them successful. Look to hire those who have the same characteristics in abundance. Another way to ensure you’ve got the right people is to use references and personality tests. Check their work and character references. Still another option to consider: have them take computerized personality tests. They can give you another perspective.


Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Taking on every problem solo will stress you out, and it also limits your problems solving abilities. Think about it. If you tackle every problem yourself, without others’ opinions or ideas, you exclude the knowledge of your capable staff. After all, you hired them for a reason (remember earlier when we said pick the right people?) and trained them yourself. At the very least, asking others for help can give you another perspective. That outside perspective can be beneficial in helping you rethink an issue.

It’s also important to delegate tasks. “Failing to understand the importance of delegating is one of the most common and harmful mistakes made by stressed out business owners,” says entrepreneur and consultant Phil Wilkins to Restaurant Hospitality. Stick to what you do best, and leave the rest to your staff. Don’t be a micro-manager. Trust that your staff will get it right and let them prove that they can. You will feel more relaxed and free to concentrate on the business, as well as your vision for its future and continued success. And your staff will appreciate the trust, and a heightened sense of ownership for their tasks will ultimately show in their own work ethic.


While you’re thinking about putting more trust in your staff, think about taking a vacation. Remember those? Where you shut your cell phone off and enjoy being someplace else? In his article, “7 Tricks To Avoid Restaurant Burnout,” Pete Cann says this about taking vacations as a restaurant owner, “It’s good for your team to run it for a few days without you. They need to grow too.”


While running a business and remembering you have a family and some modicum of a life outside of the restaurant, it’s easy to put your health and well being on the back burner. Don’t. Get into a physical routine and stick to it—whether it’s a morning run or evening swim. It’s important for the body and for the mind. Sleep and a healthy diet are also critical things to keep sharp and feeling good.


You don’t have to be on vacation or at the gym to take a minute for yourself. Whether you sit down with a good book in the quiet of your home or kick back with a glass of your favorite drink and catch up with your staff after hours, take a break. Get away from the line, the phones, and the paperwork, and spend a few moments with yourself. It’s also important to periodically check in with yourself. Is what you’re doing still fulfilling? Listen to your inner self. If you need to, re-assess and re-adjust your priorities based on what’s most important to you.

Stick with these handy-dandy, anti-burnout tips to avoid falling victim to the mounting stress that can chip away at the passion that brought you into the restaurant business in the first place. The sooner you find relief for some of the everyday pressures, the sooner you’ll feel better and more energized. If you don’t feel these suggestions work for you, or you feel worsening pressure or stress — or even despair or hopelessness please do consult with a professional as soon as you can.

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