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By Alex Fainblum
Whether the past year was your restaurant’s first or its thirtieth, there’s always room to learn, and restaurant management books can be the best way to do that.
Chocked full of valuable insights and lessons, restaurant books can help you set goals such as deciding what initiatives you want to start, continue, or stop focusing on (as long as you keep happy hour on the list).
To offer you some inspiration for your latest goals, we’re highlighting 10 must-read restaurant management books for 2023.
As a restaurateur or manager, you set the tone for your team’s culture and the guest experience. Restaurant management styles vary widely, and yours will likely continue to evolve. Reading books on restaurant management is an excellent way to determine what kind of leader you do (and don’t) want to be, and to help you run a more profitable business.
Below, we’ve rounded up 10 must-read restaurant books to get you started.
This is one of the best restaurant management books on the market. As CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group in New York, author Danny Meyer is a multiple award-winning industry leader with over 35 years of experience as a restaurateur.
In his bestselling restaurant book, Meyer lays out a set of principles for business (and life), including making a commitment to support hospitality workers on your team – not just your guests. He calls this philosophy “enlightened hospitality.” Setting the Table is a must-read for any restaurant owner or manager who wants to build strong relationships and a thriving business.
Before he was a beloved TV personality, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain was a published author. Bourdain has written multiple books, but Kitchen Confidential is arguably the most famous. This bestseller is not your average management book. Rather, the memoir is a spicy tell-all about what really goes on in a restaurant kitchen.
In Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain’s writing exudes both frankness and humor as he recounts 25 years in the business, from Tokyo to Paris to New York (and everywhere in between). Despite the inherent challenges that come with being a restaurateur (like the lack of work life balance in restaurants), it’s a calling filled with passion, which is evident in Bourdain’s book. Kitchen Confidential offers a five-star serving of edu-tainment for anyone who wants to understand what it takes to make it in the industry.
Toronto restaurateur Jen Agg brings a refreshing feminist perspective to the world of restaurant books with her debut, I Hear She’s a Real Bitch. In the book, Agg shares what it takes to survive in the business. Tip number one? Have a focused vision and don’t try to please everyone – because that’s how you end up becoming mediocre.
Agg shares colorful stories from her childhood as well as timeless restaurant management advice in this delightful read. She underscores the importance of great leadership and a solid team, and takes aim at the patriarchy for good measure.
This is one of the top restaurant books if you’re new to the industry. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, but author Tim Hoffman has your back with this comprehensive read. The book offers a step-by-step guide to starting your very own restaurant – beginning with creating an exceptional concept.
This guide to restaurant startups explores the key aspects of running a restaurant, from costs and legalities, to staffing and marketing. It even provides a roadmap for writing a restaurant business plan and having a successful grand opening. Don’t forget to take notes!
Many of the best restaurateurs worked their way up from the bottom, and Christine J. Lueders is no exception. She has a wealth of experience gained from a 30-year career, which she began as a busser. Since her early days in the industry, Lueders has managed multiple restaurants, trained restaurant managers, and created training programs. She shares all of her knowledge in this power-packed book.
In this guide to how to be a good restaurant manager, Lueder addresses the major gap she sees in the field of culinary education: how to interact with and trust your team to achieve success. You’ll walk away from this read knowing how to have better relationships with your staff, which in turn will improve your entire business.
A Globe and Mail reporter who grew up in Vancouver, Ann Hui is the daughter of Chinese immigrants and restaurateurs. Her book Chop Suey Nation features small town Chinese restaurants from Victoria to Fogo Island, Canada – and the people behind the businesses.
The book shines a spotlight on the Chinese values of family, entrepreneurialism, and perseverance. It recounts the story of Hui’s own family and their journey from rural China to Vacounver’s largest “Western” kitchens. It also introduces readers to Chinese restaurateurs with their own rich stories and lessons to share, like a woman who runs a restaurant 365 days a year on a remote Atlantic Canadian island.
If you’ve always wanted to start your own food truck, this is the book for you. Caribbean-born, New York City-raised author and entrepreneur Shaun M. Durrant outlines the crucial steps to running a thriving mobile food business.
In this book, you’ll find out which mistakes can stop your food truck in its tracks and how to prevent them. You’ll also learn how to write a business plan and secure funding for your food truck. And, you’ll get a glimpse into food truck success stories and the reason why choosing a niche for your restaurant on wheels is so important.
As the host of TV’s Bar Rescue, John Taffer knows a thing or two about restaurant management. He’s helped turn around more than 1,000 struggling restaurants and almost as many bars. In his book Raise the Bar, he shares the key to getting results: eliciting positive emotional reactions from customers.
Taffer’s book argues that “money is in reactions, not transactions.” Raise the Bar explores the role your staff, marketing, and restaurant interior play in this philosophy. It even ends with a bonus section on how to create your perfect menu.
Micah Solomon is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and thought leader on the subject of customer service. If you want to learn how global brands like the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton (among other renowned restaurateurs and chefs) wow their customers, you’ll find the answers in his book, The Heart of Hospitality.
Solomon and his interviewees understand that providing stellar customer service is one of the biggest advantages you can have in the hospitality industry. The Heart of Hospitality covers everything from creating experiences for luxury lovers and millennials, to building a strong internal culture.
Technology like online ordering and digital customer loyalty programs provides restaurateurs with the opportunity to delight their guests and grow their revenue. However, if you fail to harness the power of new tech, your restaurant could suffer as your competitors win your customers over with a more seamless, personalized dining experience.
In Delivering the Digital Restaurant, authors Meredith Sandland and Carl Orsbourn lay out a roadmap for thriving in the digital economy. They dig into everything from sociology to industry data, and bring their experience at both established chains (Taco Bell) and startups (Kitchen United) to the table.
That’s a wrap, friends. Grab your library card, because you’ve got some reading to do! After you devour 10 of the best restaurant management books out there, you’ll be ready to tackle any business challenge. We’d love to hear which read was your favorite.
Alex is a Marketing Coordinator at TouchBistro where she writes about food and restaurant dining experiences. She’s a lover of all things chocolate covered but her true passion lies in late-night eating.
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