Advice and Reading Recommendations for Starting a Small Biz/Restaurant
February 4, 2019 1:28 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for some books to read and general advice for starting a small business/restaurant.

The concept is a very small restaurant (think food truck size but not mobile) in midwestern mid-sized city. This is still very early in the planning stages and, for unrelated logistical reasons, we won't actually be living in the city and able to start the in-person research and work for another year or two. We are thankfully set for initial funding.

I'm less interested in general business books, mindset kinda things or anything start-up oriented but more practical stuff like The Restaurant Manager’s Handbook.
posted by saul wright to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Kitchen Confidential. Some stuff is slightly dated, but it’s still a good read. Especially the chapters on owners. Be very real with yourself, if you fit any of the criteria of Bourdain’s problem owners, you may want to rethink your plans.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:44 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]

This is the classic on the subject: Starting a Small Restaurant. This is the book that our instructors recommended when I was in culinary school in the mid-80s. There is a more up-to-date version available too.

You'll also want Food and Beverage Cost Control (one of our textbooks in culinary school), along with Foundations of Menu Planning.

The suggestion of Kitchen Confidential is good if you're new to the business - I spent about 15 years in restaurant kitchens and was going "yep, yep" throughout the book.

I'm sure you've heard this before, but do you know how to make a small fortune in the restaurant business? Start with a large fortune.

I could go on for pages and pages about why this is a really bad idea unless you've got decades of restaurant experience under your belt, but I'm guessing you're aware of the failure rates already.
posted by ralan at 2:37 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]

Somewhat snarky answer, but: read this article and see what rings true.
posted by hepta at 3:08 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]

Restaurant Startup and Growth magazine is an excellent resource. The most recent few issues seem to be available to read online for free.

Their book So, You’re Thinking About Owning, Operating or Investing in a Restaurant...: How to Get Into the Restaurant Business with Eyes Wide Open also has a lot of good information.
posted by Lexica at 3:33 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]

You might want to read the New York Times's "Start-Up Chronicle" from a few years back about a guy starting a restaurant in the Hamptons. It's a blog format that covered a year or more of what it was like to be starting from scratch.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:37 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]

March of 2000 Jamie Zawinski purchased the DNA Lounge nightclub in San Francisco. He has kept a blog since. (later he also added DNA Pizza) Construction, permits, more permits, building inspectors, staffing, cost of food and drink, Yelp, etc are covered.
posted by Sophont at 10:57 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]

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