They say that life is nothing but a game–one that people have been playing for centuries.
Regardless of the path that you choose to take in life, you’re bound to experience some of its ups and downs, its twists and turns. But if life is indeed a game that others have played and won, then books are as close as there can be to a manual.
This article is a compilation of the best restaurant management books we’ve ever come across throughout the years. Whether you’re an enthusiastic newcomer to the business or a flourishing veteran in the restaurant industry, you’re guaranteed to pick up something new from this excellent selection.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1. The Chipotle Effect by Paul Barron
Technology has been slowly revolutionizing the way the restaurant industry works both internally and externally. In The Chipotle Effect, Paul Barron talks about how restaurants are leveraging technological advancements, using customer psychology, and adjusting to the rise of the ‘fast casual’ food culture.
In this fast-paced world where technological developments are happening practically every minute, it’s important for industries not just to adapt, but also to grow. If you’re an aspiring restaurateur or a beginner in the industry, you’ll undoubtedly learn a lot from The Chipotle Effect.
2. Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer
Setting The Table tells the story of how Danny Meyer, one of the most well-known restaurateurs in the industry, started a single Union Square Cafe at 27 years old and built it from the ground up to the empire that it is now.
With his guiding tenet he calls the “Enlightened Hospitality,” he shows how forging strong business relationships and knowing how to prioritize customers can do wonders for your business.
The book is an engaging narrative about Meyer’s personal experience in all aspects of restaurant management, from staffing to customer service. Wherever you are in your restaurant management journey, Setting the Table can provide you with practical tips and advice on every aspect of the restaurant experience.
3. Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire by Barbara Lynch
Winner of the prestigious James Beard Awards and founder of a rising restaurant empire, Barbara Lynch traces her journey in the industry in this fierce-yet-poignant memoir.
From her childhood as a young daredevil raised by her overworked single mother to the fiery start of her challenging culinary career, and to her rise as the founder of Barbara Lynch Gruppo, Lynch tells her story with gripping prose that leaves readers wanting for more.
More than just a book about restaurant management, Out of Line is a narrative about grit, hard work, and the determination to rise above challenges. Restaurateurs, new and old, can certainly use these traits in their careers.
4. Straight Up: Real-World Secrets to Running a Killer Bar by Romana Pettygrave Shah
Drawing from her years of experience in the restaurant industry, Romana Pettygrave Shah imparts the wisdom she has gained over the years and provides tips and tricks on how one can run a successful bar.
The beverage consultant and book author talks about crucial aspects of being a bar manager, such as the value of time management, team cultivation, finances, and more.
If you want a primer on the basics of running a successful bar or want to glean insights on how the bar aspect of your restaurant business can be enhanced, Straight Up has it all.
What better way to learn about the ins and outs of the restaurant business than to have a leisurely cup of coffee with 20 of the best restaurateurs in the industry?
That is exactly what Wil Brawley’s Restaurant Owners Uncorked feels like. Legendary icons such as Phil Roberts, Scott Leibfried, and Chris Sommers share their thoughts and philosophies on various aspects of their restaurant journey in this gem of a book.
Here, you will find applicable insights on employee management, pricing, branding, customer service, and menu design. You will also see how having a good CPA is just as important as having good food on the menus.
6. Front of the House: Restaurant Manners, Misbehaviors & Secrets by Jeff Benjamin
When it comes to the restaurant industry, the back-of-house and the front-of-house are two separate worlds, with different laws governing them.
Jeff Benjamin chooses to focus on the latter with his book, Front Of The House. In this entertaining narrative, Benjamin discusses all his strategies, trade secrets, and memorable experiences when dealing with the customer side of things.
This book will teach you valuable insights on how to create outstanding customer service that will make occasional visitors want to become regulars–a skill that every restaurant manager wouldn’t hurt to have.
7. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
Documenting the life of top American chef Gabrielle Hamilton, Blood, Bones & Butter offers an insight into her colorful culinary career.
More than just a book about food, it also talks about the hurdles in Hamilton’s life and how she managed to overcome them to become who she is today. The book captures her journey through ‘different kitchens,’ like the kitchen of her rural childhood and the kitchens she encounters in her tours of Greece, France, and Turkey.
If you want to read something light, insightful, and above all, motivational about the life of a successful chef and restaurateur, then this book won’t fail to delight you.
8. Restaurant Success and the Numbers by Roger Fields
As necessary as personal experience is when learning how to manage your own restaurant, you can’t deny the importance of numbers as well.
In Restaurant Success And The Numbers, self-proclaimed ‘numbers guy’ Rogers Field discusses how vital facts and figures are in the restaurant industry. From conceptualization, staffing, ambiance, accounting, and profiting, he also talks about the ins and outs of opening and managing your own restaurant.
If you’re in the market for some advice about financial planning, operational systems, inventory management, and more, Restaurant Success and the Numbers is the perfect book for you.
9. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
An expose behind the closed doors of the culinary world, Kitchen Confidential is drawn from the two decades of experience that the influential author and award-winning journalist Anthony Bourdain has as one of the most noted chefs in America.
From his student days in culinary school to his experiences as a restaurateur in Tokyo, Bourdain tells it all in this book through entertaining stories written in his honest and bold voice.
Even before his death in June 2018, Bourdain’s expertise and colorful personality had already left a mark on the country’s culinary culture. Not only will Kitchen Confidential offer you a glimpse into the interesting happenings of the culinary world, but it will also let you peek into the life of a celebrated chef.
10. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Some Teams Don’t by Simon Sinek
Although Simon Sinek doesn’t write exclusively for the restaurant industry, Leaders Eat Last still offers restaurant managers valuable knowledge in the art of leadership and team building.
This book is an excellent manual on the oft-forgotten art of building cooperation and trust within a team–a skill that is integral to the function of any restaurant worldwide. According to Sinek, a leader doesn’t aspire to be good in order to reach the top. They aspire to be good to have a better world.
In the restaurant industry where human factors heavily influence everything, both in team and customer relations, Leaders Eat Last is a must-read for any restaurant manager, experienced or aspiring.
11. Making the Cut: What Separates the Best From the Rest by Chris Hill
Making The Cut is not just a collection of stories about the restaurant industry. It’s also a book that seeks to know what it actually takes to succeed.
Some of the world’s best chefs, including Frank Stitt, Jeremiah Tower, and Fabio Viviani, have shared their own perspectives in answer to this question. The book does not shy away from detailing the challenges and trials faced by those in the industry, giving people a realistic idea of what they need to do to achieve their lofty goals.
Whether you’re in the restaurant industry or not, Making The Cut is certainly going to bring you a lot of value.
12. The Restaurant Manager’s Handbook by Douglas Robert Brown
If you’re looking for an all-around classic that deals with the nuts and bolts of operating a restaurant, then there’s no better book for you than The Restaurant Manager’s Handbook.
Awarded the Franklin Book Award for the Best Business Book in 2003, this manual is a must-have for any restaurateur looking to improve their restaurant management skills.
It’s currently already in its 4th edition, proving the value of its timeless advice on all aspects of restaurant management. From crafting the work environment, streamlining processes, and mastering the ins and outs of staffing, The Restaurant Manager’s Handbook has it all.
Picking the Best Restaurant Management Books
Whether you’re a beginner looking to carve your path in the industry or a long-time veteran aiming to grow bigger, continual learning will benefit you exponentially.
Setting aside several hours every week to learn new things about the industry is not just going to benefit you, it will also translate to practical applications that you can apply to your team. Not tomorrow, not in the future, but today.