6 Experts on How to Grow a Successful Business in the Restaurant Industry

If you’ve ever thought about starting or taking over a business in the restaurant industry, now might be the perfect time to do it. Consider the following facts from the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 Restaurant Industry Pocket Factbook:

  • Restaurant industry sales are projected to total $709.2 billion in 2015 and equal 4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.
  • The restaurant industry is expected to add 1.7 million jobs over the next decade, with employment reaching 15.7 million by 2025.
  • Eight in 10 restaurant employees believe the restaurant industry is a place where people of all backgrounds can open their own business
  • Half of consumers say restaurants are an essential part of their lifestyle.

The data above would seem to point to the fact that great opportunities exist within the restaurant industry.

So here’s the question:

There are plenty of resources available that you can reference when starting a business in the restaurant industry, but what’s the best way to actually grow your business and make it successful? To answer that question, we sought out six experts and asked them to offer their advice.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. Tomas Sohlberg, Boon Burger Cafe


“Always focus on what you want the end result to look like – how should the food be presented, what music should be playing, how should the staff be interacting with the customers, or what should the ambiance be like? If you focus on the end result and work your way back from there, everything just falls into place a lot easier. Always keep the bigger picture in the forefront of your mind. It is too easy to get lost in the smaller details.”

2. Kathleen and Bill Schulte, Jersey Mike’s Subs

“It’s all about connecting to others in a positive and mutually beneficial way. As an owner, make yourself accessible to everyone: your community, your customers, your vendors and your employees. Take pride in your business and let everyone know how much you appreciate their help in making you a success.”

3. Kimmie Burton, Foundry Provisions


“Build a team of amiable baristas (my restaurant is mainly a coffee shop and breakfast/lunch cafe) by caring for them and working hard alongside them. Earn their loyalty and respect. I am especially proud of my team of really great and unique people who are willing to work for the wages our shop can afford (minimum wage or just above plus tips). Because we like each other and have fun together, it works not only for us but for our customers. Capitalize on unique strengths of your geography: recognize what is exciting to people in your neighborhood and provide it. For us, it means sourcing all things – as much as possible – locally. This includes not only locally roasted coffee beans, locally baked breads, locally grown vegetables, pastries from the local bakery, meats from the local meatery, and yogurts from the local dairy, but also art from local artists, music from local musicians and providing support for and connections to local interest groups and schools. We send all of our compost back to the urban farm where some of our veggies are grown which is a super fun full circle! Consider the idea that your place might be a THIRD PLACE for some or many of your customers. Let it be a passion to provide a worthy Third Place.”

4. Nish Shah, Mambo Italia


“The most important thing in a successful restaurant business is to have time for the business. Which means learning to delegate, and this is where When I Work is such a brilliant tool. I cant recall how I first came across it, but it took me 5 mins to realise this was what we needed and we havent looked back. Our management staff now focus on the key things for us: the food and the customer service experience.”

5. Bryan Adams, Bistro 303

“My best advice is to cherish your regulars by being active in your community! Bistro 303 is a hub for local non-profit organizations and LGBT community groups to plan and carry out events. We are Family.”

6. Jamie Albertson, Jamie’s Place

“It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of hours to make it successful. You have to give the customers the best quality food and service. It takes hardworking employees that care about what they do also.”

Building and growing a successful business in the restaurant industry takes a lot of work, but with good food, good service, good leadership and the right amount of passion, dedication, work ethic, motivation, and tools, it can be done!

Want to take the headaches out of managing your restaurant employees? Join 10,000+ other businesses and start using When I Work for employee scheduling, time clock, and communication. Try it free for 30 days:



Or to see how one restaurant uses When I Work, click here.

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