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How to Succeed in the Restaurant Biz without Really Trying (are you joking?)

Posted in: Community, Scott's Blog
How to Succeed in the Restaurant Biz without Really Trying (are you joking?)

Being a restaurant owner is cool, we’re charming, gracious and look like we are having nothing but fun. It’s like hosting your own party every day. We eat the best food, drink great wine and get to chat with lots of interesting people and get paid to do it. Yeah, right!

Before I tell you all the bad stuff, I have to say that I have fun most days, and working with our staff, vendors and guests is still the best part of the job. It has been a rewarding career. We have brought many people together, shared in celebrating births, first dates, proposals, weddings, anniversaries and celebrations of life. A lot of business has been done at our tables. I still take a lot of pride and personal enjoyment when I tell people where I work and they tell me stories of the wonderful meals they have shared at Scott’s.

Being a restaurant owner is like walking a tight rope while you juggle flaming torches. You have to constantly watch the balance between costs and prices, market changes, trends, all the while listening to your guests, listening to your employees and making all the right decisions to keep your business going in the right direction, and still remember you have a home and a family that needs you. A very understanding wife who doesn’t mind the frequent crises that the biz is prone to helps a great deal too!

One slip and you can fall hard. When you first open the restaurant, you can do 99 things right out of 100 and still fail. Just because you have experience and know how to run a restaurant does not guarantee success. You also have to be able to do all of the jobs in the restaurant too, because sooner or later, you will have to do that job in an emergency, and not look like an idiot.

Restaurant people tend to be obsessive and have short attention spans. We think about the restaurant all the time. We even dream about it and after a difficult day, there is a recurring nightmare where you are bringing plates from the kitchen but the table just keeps getting further out of reach. The guests are looking at you but you just can’t reach them.

We’re no fun at other people’s restaurants either, as we are constantly analyzing their operations, successes and shortcomings. We’re always in learning mode, distracted most of the time. We never rest on our laurels, as that is a sure road to disaster. The restaurant is a living, breathing being that needs constant attention.

There is a dichotomy that describes the restaurant owner’s mindset: It’s all in the details, then, don’t sweat the details! Really, it’s about being prepared, knowing who you are, having a well trained staff, setting expectations high and tight, serving good and consistent food in a fun environment, then opening the doors, letting the staff have fun, enjoy their guests and making it a good time for everyone. It is organized chaos!

So why do we do it again and again?

Because the thrill when you get it right, when your guests leave happy, when the food is good, the service is good, the place looks good and it all works, it is truly amazing! It keeps you coming back for more.