12 books all restaurant owners should read
Browse our list of essential books for the proper management of your restaurant.
These books are essential and mandatory reading requirements for restaurant owners. Even experienced restaurant owners should read these every one or two years, in order to gain some very valuable insight.
01/ Setting The Table
Award-winning restaurateur Danny Meyer (Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Shake Shack) cooks up hospitality magic in his best-selling book, Setting the Table.
He shares the many lessons learned as he grew from one restaurant to an empire of Michelin-star hotspots in New York City, and roadside burger joints across America.
Setting the Table focuses on Meyer’s philosophy of Enlightened Hospitality, which revolves around relationships and respect—between both staff and customers.
We all know great hospitality is the backbone of any restaurant, but how you create a culture that actively and eagerly delivers great service is what Meyer explains so thoughtfully.
To achieve Enlightened Hospitality you need to hire “51 percenters with 5 core emotional skills.”
51 percenters are people who champion great hospitality naturally; people who are empathetic, optimistic, self-aware, eager to learn, and hard working.
While achieving Enlightened Hospitality may seem redundant, while you only serve takeout, it should be a core value of your restaurant and hiring process.
By championing Enlightened Hospitality and hiring a team of 51 percenters, you’ll improve the customer experience and employee satisfaction—which will lead to more repeat business and reduced staff turnover.
02/ How to Rock Restaurant Management
Let’s face it, restaurant management is a tough job. You have countless things to do and countless people to please, and while orders might be low now, it won’t be long before it feels like you’re just surviving through shifts.
As the title suggests, this is one of the best restaurant management books out there. Katelyn Silva is a seasoned manager herself, whose time at Jimmy John’s led to 20% growth.
Her no-nonsense, tip-filled book dives into what it takes to be a successful restaurant manager. You’ll learn her secrets on leadership and boosting team morale, which in turn will lead to smoother shifts and happier staff.
How to Rock Restaurant Management will become your go-to guide for golden tips on how to streamline your operation and build a team of all-stars — the secret ingredient to any successful restaurant and restaurant manager’s career.
03/ Without Reservations
Anyone in the hospitality sector should read this book as it’s full of insightful gems that will inspire your work and help you achieve your career goals.
Hotel tycoon J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr. shares his story of the Marriott brand, from its humble beginnings as a family root beer stand in the 30s to the global leader it is today. It’s a timeline of mistakes made, lessons learned, and opportunities gained in a business where people always come first.
As a restaurant manager, you’ll see that the challenges you face are exactly the same, whatever the size or scale of your operation; and that the success of your business comes down to one thing - people.
Without Reservations is an inspiring read that really shows there is no limit to the success you can have in this industry.
04/ Kitchen Confidential
The late, great Anthony Bourdain’s wild adventures in the culinary world, Kitchen Confidential is an exposé of haute cuisine—25 years of provocative stories, successes, and failures in the restaurant business.
Kitchen Confidential was the world’s introduction to the weird and wonderful Bourdain, who went on to produce dozens of TV shows like Parts Unknown, No Reservations, and The Layover.
Bourdain holds nothing back on his own personal demons, and his dramatic writing is as much ‘what not to do’ as it is ‘how to be a successful restaurateur.’
Anyone interested in fine dining (or audacious characters for that matter) will love Kitchen Confidential. It’s an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at some of the most famed restaurants in the world and an insight into what makes great chefs and restaurants tick.
05/ Hospitality Cost Control
This one certainly contains more practical information and should be the go-to book for any restaurant manager or owner looking to cut costs and boost revenue.
Hospitality Cost Control gives you the formulas for effective cost control and profitability, something every restaurant manager should know.
Written from a chef’s perspective, this hands-on textbook provides in-depth analysis into everything cost-related: profitability, purchasing, production, forecasting, and control. Keep this by your side as you run through the numbers each week and you can’t go wrong.
06/ Restaurant Success by the Numbers
90% of restaurants fail, and it’s not because of poor food. Even the proudest chef will tell you their restaurant success boils down to money.
Fields’ uses his first-hand experience to explain how to keep a restaurant open after its first year, and how to keep customers coming back time and again. The real-life case studies provide a great insight into what to do and what not to do when opening a restaurant, choosing locations, hiring staff, and most importantly, turning a profit.
Restaurant Success by the Numbers will help you cook the books effectively throughout this uncertain period, and set you up for greater efficiency when you finally get back to “sorry, we’re fully booked.”
07/ The Restaurant Manager's Handbook
The Restaurant Manager's Handbook: How to Set Up, Operate, and Manage a Financially Successful Food Service Operation is a multi-award-winning handbook - the bible of restaurant management books. Over 1,000 pages of in-depth, practical advice that spans the entirety of restaurant management.
For any restaurant manager, seasoned or otherwise, you can’t go too far wrong with this by your side.
08/ Making the Cut
Chris Hill is a chef, restaurant owner, author, and speaker, known for his skill in management and entrepreneurship. His collection of stories from the restaurant people he's encountered in the kitchen serve as inspiration, direction, and advice for anyone who's serious about advancing their own career in the restaurant industry. Hill shares secrets from some of the most famous chefs alive on how they found success – and how you can too.
09/ Front of the House
Anyone who's worked in a restaurant knows that, despite how intertwined they are, the worlds of the front-of-house and the back-of-house are very different entities.
No matter how busy or stressful the kitchen gets, it's tucked away and hidden from guests. Meanwhile, the front-of-house team is on the front lines, interacting with guests and ensuring their satisfaction.
There's a science to both, but in this book, Jeff Benjamin lays down what it's like to work the front-of-house and interact with the "always-right" customer with open and humorous insight. The skills he highlights in his writing are essential for running a successful front-of-house.
10/ Restaurant Owners Uncorked
Instead of reading about one person’s experience, why not read advice from over twenty different restaurant owners? Restaurant Owners Uncorked is a compilation of interviews with experienced chefs such as Phil Roberts of Buca di Beppo, Chris Sommers of Pi Pizzeria, and more.
They share how they got started, including what's worked for them, what hasn't, and the pros and cons of working in the restaurant industry.
11/ Becoming a Restaurateur
Everyone knows that opening a restaurant is a risky business, a venture with an astounding rate of failure. Patric Kuh’s Becoming a Restaurateur takes readers behind the scenes of one of America’s trendiest new restaurants, revealing how Lien Ta and chef Jonathan Whitener of LA’s Here’s Looking at You managed to beat the odds. With valuable information about what daily life for a professional is like, this is an entertaining, practical guide to what makes a master restaurateur, from writing the business plan to opening night and beyond.
12/ Your First Restaurant
If you are thinking about, or anywhere in the process of, opening a restaurant, this guide will be invaluable to you.
The author embarked on a career as a restaurateur in middle age, with no prior restaurant experience and not much capital.
Within four years he opened three original and quirky restaurants, each of which has become a thriving success.
In this book, he draws upon his experiences as a restaurateur, as well as nearly 30 years spent negotiating commercial real estate leases and sales, and a decade teaching real estate investment analysis and decision making