Don’t Be A Restaurant Owner

Restaurant Owner vs Strategic Business OwnerSteve in Florida is writing…

Hello, I am based in Miami and have been following the <type of concept> that seems prevalent in CA and almost non-existent here in South FL. I am a business person who is seeking to open such an establishment … I do not have experience in the food industry but would be “passionate” about starting this kind of concept here in FL. With this said, would you happen to have any advice in starting things up (other than the usual stuff such as money, etc.)… I’m looking for investors yet but more importantly… looking for some “wisdom” from veterans of the biz who have been in the “trenches”.



Okay, Steve. Congratulations on having a dream that is big and a passion for the restaurant business that is contagious.

As for the restaurant business “wisdom” piece, here’s a little something I want you to take to heart. (And it applies equally to those who are just starting out and to those who have been running a restaurant for decades.)

Here it is:

Don’t be a restaurant owner.

Be a Strategic Business Owner.

I could — and one day I will — write an entire book on this subject. Until then, here’s the “skinny” for you, the 9 traits that make your restaurant success more probable (those in the right column):

Restaurant Owner Strategic Business Owner
Tactical Strategic
Spends most of the time working “in” the business Spends most of the time working “on” the business
Assumes better food and service will cause customers to beat a path to his door Has a marketing plan in place and creates special reasons for customers to come back
Thinks “everyone” needs his food and “everybody” should want it Has a clear picture of “ideal customer” and knows exactly what these people want and don’t want
Considers the equipment in the kitchen, the furniture in the dining room, and the building the restaurant is in the biggest assets his restaurant has Knows that the customer list is his business’ biggest asset, is a freak about adding more customers to it all the time, and follows up with them relentlessly
Can’t see any other way to make more profits in his restaurant other than sell more food His mind is open to creative ways of adding more value-added goods and services that customers happily and eagerly buy
Is focused on building a “transactional” income Is focused on building a “relationship” income
Tries to win in the marketing game all by himself Is always on a lookout for profitable joint venture opportunities with other local businesses
Owns a job Owns a real business

Some of these may appear cryptic. Many may seem to fly in the face of the “restaurant marketing” common sense.

So they are and so they do.

We’ll expand on these in our future newsletters. Until then, print out this list and post it in a place where you’ll see it often. The more you read these, the more sense they will make to you. And the better you understand them, the greater your chances will be of creating a successful and profitable restaurant business.


Say "enough's enough" to half-empty dining rooms, humdrum shifts, and wondering which half of your marketing budget was wasted.

73% of teenagers and adults are walking around with a smartphone (iPhone, Android, or Blackberry) in their back pocket. They use is for everything: Playing games, checking emails, texting their friends and ... googling your restaurant's website. If your website is not mobile ready, you're missing out on a lot of walk-ins. Download our Restaurant Commando's Mobile Readiness Checklist.

Watch this quick video about how to set up a Birthday Club that practically runs on an auto-pilot. This is going to be the easiest, fastest money you will ever create in you restaurant business.

About Chief Commando

Well, actually, Chief Commando is two people, Troy Authement and Alex Makarski. Troy and Alex combined their knowledge and experience to help independent restaurant owners and emerging chains create more growth and more profits in their businesses. Together, they provide a unique blend of expertise not available anywhere else in the industry.

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2 Responses to Don’t Be A Restaurant Owner

  1. Marilyn October 17, 2008 at 2:40 AM #

    Hello – I enjoyed reading all your articles, from June to October 2008. First time on your website today. I’m glad I read all your articles as I’m about to meet the Bank Manager to get a small business loan to take over a restaurant, currently operating as a coffee/donut shop and I’m turning it into a Diner with different spontaneous menu every week, different daily. You’re absolutely right, I don’t want to be a Restaurant Owner, I want to be a Strategic Business Owner and I was considering a Big Bang for the first day opening, but now reading your article, it makes sense to do soft opening, two to three weeks later do a big opening, this way I will have a chance to get to know these new customers, who can then do word of mouth marketing based on their experience with our food on the day of the soft opening. Your article also hit me big time “Location Location Location and good food will bring them in”’re right, it’s not always true however this is what motivated me to buy this small coffee/donut shop, because of the potential. Again thank you!
    Canadian Reader

  2. Chief Commando October 21, 2008 at 5:24 PM #

    Hi Marilyn,

    All the best with your project. And good luck with the bank talk — looks like these days you do need Lady Luck on your side in those negotiations.

    Glad you’ve found us in time to rethink your opening game plan.

    Now, the “location” thing… Good location certainly helps. It’s just that many restaurant owners think it’s everything so once you secure a good location it’s like wining in a lottery and you’re set for life. Well, these folks are going to get disappointed very fast. It is just silly to hope to build a healthy business just on the walk ins! It didn’t work very well in the past, and it’s not going to work at all in the future. You need systems in place of getting customers to come to you, again and again. Better food (better service, better mousetraps — better anything) are not enough to have people beat a path to your door.

    All the best!


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