50 Restaurant Owners and Managers Speak Out: “What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Restaurant”

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50 Restaurant Owners and Managers Speak Out: “What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Restaurant”

50 Things Restaurant Owners and Managers Wished they would of Known before they Opened!

Opening up your first business is full of emotions. I remember opening my pizza restaurant. Be ready to go on an emotional roller coaster. There were times I was on cloud nine and I couldn’t wait to open the doors.  Than there where times I was scared and wondering how and why I was about to walk away from working at a pizza place one night a week was, teaching at two colleges, and working for a small architectural firm to owning my own pizza restaurant.

Well I did it, and I learned a lot along the way. There are things I learned after opening that I wished I would of know before I opened. I was sure that other restaurant owners have gone through the same thing so I set out to contact as many restaurant owners as possible to ask them the same question. “What do you wish you would of known before opening up your own restaurant?”

 I got a variety of responses and I am going to share them with you.


John from Dukes Pizza Plus


“I wish I would of understood how workman’s comp insurance was going to be calculated. Secondly I wish I would of understood how much I was going to be charged for merchant cards to be processed.”

Erik from Go Taco


Go Taco






“If we would have known how crucial it was to have all services ready when we opened (ie. delivery, online ordering..etc) it would have served us better in the long run. It's a tough slow journey to introduce new things and get them to stick "after the fact". Our struggle is only that people need to be convinced and / or realize we are not fast food. We are a healthy flavorful alternative to junk. We may be fast, but not fast food.”

Todd Tompkins Area director of Hungry Howies


“The struggle of today is finding reliable, hard working, passionate, and professional millennials to staff our locations with that don't carry a sense of entitlement for status or salary rates that are unreasonable.”

Ralph from Classic Pizza

They have been open for 25 years


“Getting help and keeping them its like a revolving door. Good accountant I wasn’t ready for all the taxes and then the account just started telling me I have to pay this tax now than this tax. I wasn’t prepared.”

Jason from Pizzas Champ



“I didn’t know how much time it really was going to take. I knew it was going to be a lot but not that much. It is a 24 x 7, 365 days a year job. The first year I was open I got to take a 3 night camping trip. I was used to taking a week long camping trip. The second year I was open I got to take a 4 night camping trip. Earlier on in the year I got to take a 2 night trip with my boys but my wife had to stay at the shop. In the first 2 years of being open I got to take a total of 7 nights off. If I had to think of a second thing I wished I would of know was how hard it is to get and keep good help.”

Andrew from Mancino’s on Carpenter Road


“If I would of known the tax laws like when to pay and what to pay so on and so on. I learned a lot the first year I was open. I kind of learned as I went along. If I would of known what my food cost percentage should have been like an exact number. I try to keep my food cost at 30% and my labor at 30% and over head around 30%. Your demographics of your target market are important when choosing a location. One thing I wished I did know still is how I compare to other restaurants in my niche.”

Michael of Fine Folk Pizza


“Staying focused on my goals while living with clarity and momentarily intentional action.  (I've been doing good for awhile and is also extremely fulfilling.) That I don't know everything and I need to read and learn from others to continue my path of growth.  I also enjoy helping others succeed by sharing ideas which I have implemented in my own business.”

Ian from Caboose Market & Café


“I wish I had done more homework on the construction aspects of the restaurant.”

Lou from Toarmina’s Pizza


“I have been in business for 29 years and I have 22 locations. Value the relationships of your employees, vendors, and family, and the time is going to go really fast. Write important dates down or you’ll forget important mile stones. Recommend you read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people by Stephen Covey.”

Joseph from England Street Tavern




“I wish I had known more about the area and the community.”

Michael from Marty's Grill


“Wish I would of known the work ethic of the local kids. Traffic flow at 7am. Where to place floor drains in the kitchen. The difference between a cheap toilet and a good toilet. Tank less water heaters suck in restaurant’s. What a landscape bond is?”

Maria from Maria's Old Town 21


“I wish I would of known to really look into the the many locality and town regulations.  Be very thorough in investigating these.”

Michael from Anthony's on the Hill


“Take care of your staff 1st, and they will take care of you. A happy staff makes for happy customers.”

Suzanne from Homemades by Suzanne


“1.  Don't have an equal partner.  There are too many small details to decide on, too many reasons to disagree and most likely not enough profits to share for a few years.

2. Treat your customers, your staff and your suppliers like gold...as in the Golden Rule.

3.  Keep your accounting needs in-house.  Don't use an outside service.

4.  Keep your eyes wide open any all aspects of the business.  We had a manager in one of our locations who received a number of gifts from customers on her birthday.  I am nice, but I never received lots of gifts from customers.  This red flag revealed the evidence and then the proof that she was giving away a great deal of food.

5.  When you find proven management, invest in them.  They are beyond valuable.

6.  Have a rainy day fund.

7.  Keep the business doable and fun as you grow.”

They didn’t leave their name but they are from Carini Italian Restaurant


“I wished I would of known all the long hours I was going to have to put in and all the family sacrifices I would have to make”

A manager from Mikey’s Late Night Slice


"There should be more manager training"

Nate from Curbside Gourmet


"Finding and keeping good staff"

Jim from Pitabilities Food Truck


"How hard it was going to be to find good staff and having a plan for time management"

Ben from Mr. C's Grilled Cheese Food Truck


"It is hard to find events when you are first starting out and you need to change the menu according to the event you are at"

Jacob manager at Marco's pizza 



"If there is one thing I have learned is how important it is to have chariety nights and to give to different charieties"

Kalli from Garcia’s Pizza In A Pan


"Being located in downtown where there in a college town means late nights and business will flucuate based on the time of year"

Ben manager at Fixture



"You need to have patience with employees, and being able to maintain patience, so that you don't lose your temper with your employees."

Jordan from EL Pollo Loco


"unwavering organization is needed, humility and patience"

Leo from Uncle Maddio’s Pizza


" You need to have frendly customer service and treat them like family"

Jeff from Parmount Bar

"consistency is the key to keeping your customers happy"

Francisco from Caadxi Oaxaca


"The quality of the food is very important.Use fresh food and good products all the time."

Ken from Rhodie’s Smokin BBQ


"If you want to make a little money start with a lot of money."

Neil from Hai Poké


"Having patience is the key, trusting and building a team and trusting your team to do the job."

 Diane manager at Stolfas Pizza


"Treat empoloyees like people with respect and remember there not there to be used and abused."

 Sam from India’s Grill


"Good quality food and good servcie makes happy customers."

Jason Manager from 10 Twenty Five


"Keeping a happy staff is very important"

 Jessica manager of Revolver Taco Lounge


"Keeping employees happy and everyone needs to work together as a team instead of individually."

David from Davenport’s Pizza Palace


"Having a well trained and experienced crew, so that I don't have to worry about the small details of cooking, surving, and prepping and I can concentrate on the major manager details and not have to worry about the little details"

Patience manager at Mellow Mushroom


"Communication skills are important it is less important to delegate and more important to communicate with each other."

Andrew a manager at The Black Duck Cask and Bottle


"You need to have passion, and love what you do. If you do it turns out to be great."

Kody manager at Pap Murphy's Take N Bake


"You need to have people skills, get to know your customers and then make them happy."

Jeremy from Hopdoddy Burger Bar


"The way you talk to people. You have to learn to read all different personalities, you have to learn how to talk to everyone, all kinds of people"

Greg from The Naked Onion


"Surround yourself with good people"

Mellissa from The Black Sheep


"Having rotating shift managers is a great idea. Having a power structure, and make everyone accountable even the managers."

Harouna manager at Ivar’s Seafood Bar


"Always learning new things."

Necoria manager of The Halal Guys


"If the employees are happy, the store runs better"

Marina manager at Shots Coffee


"Communication is the key, talking to your employees."

Alex manager of M A J Pizza


M A J Pizza

"People management skills"

Chris a manager for Ruffrano’s Hell’s Kitchen Pizza


Ruffrano's Hell's Kitchen Pizza

"Customer service goes a long way."

Brandon a manager at Blackjack Pizza


"Knowing a persons strengths and weakness will help you run your restaurant smoothly."

Taylor manager at Supino Pizzeria


"I would have closed down the second restaurant sooner, than the current owner." 

Knowing when something isn't working and being able to except that and move on can be hard sometimes but it has to be done.

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