It's common knowledge that succeeding in the restaurant business is tough — perhaps as tough as in any industry. So it makes sense to pay attention to restaurant operators who've figured out how to thrive. Here are a dozen tips from a dozen restaurant operators:
“You have to think long term when you choose investors. It's like marrying into a family. They have to trust you explicitly. And vice versa.” — Dave Query, Big Red F Restaurant Group, Boulder, CO
“You'll never have happy customers unless you have happy employees. Focus first and foremost on your employees. Treat them well, and treat them with respect.” — Keith Paul, A Good Egg Dining Group, Oklahoma City
“You have to have that attitude of saying that failure is not even close to being an option. It's amazing how your body and your mind will respond if you think that way.” — Matt Frey, Bub's Burgers & Ice Cream, Carmel, IN
“Be great at a few things, not average at a lot of things.” — Phil Roberts, Parasole Restaurant Group, Minneapolis
“Keep your business simple if you want to expand.” — Jon Myerow, Tria Café, Philadelphia
“If you spend lots of money to get started, you are that much closer to failure. If you can do it really lean, your risk is much lower.” — Mic Heynekamp, Socorro Springs Restaurant & Brewery, Socorro, NM and Eddyline Restaurant & Brewery, Buena Vista, CO
“50/50 partnerships don't work. Own more than 50 percent of your business so you always have the final say.” — Chester Kroeger, Fudpucker's, Destin, FL
“Do what you're good at and find others to fill your gaps. Interdependence, rather than independence, is incredibly freeing.” — Joe Johnston, Joe's Real BBQ, Liberty Market, Joe's Farm Grill, Gilbert, AZ
“Take your ego out of the equation. At the end of the day, it's a business. If you approach it through your ego, you'll fail.” — Emad Yacoub, Glowbal Group, Vancouver, BC
“Don't expand too quickly or you could destroy your entire business.” — Chip Bair, Beau Jo's, Denver, CO.
“No matter how well you know your potential business partner personally, make sure you know what he/she is like in the heat of battle.” — Jim Parker, Red Hat on the River, Irvington, NY
“Be transparent with your staff and you'll earn their loyalty and trust.” — Scott Leibfried, Arch Rock Fish, Santa Barbara, CA
Wil Brawley is a partner at Schedulefly, a company that provides web-based restaurant employee scheduling and communication software. He is also the author of a book titled Restaurant Owners Uncorked: Twenty Owners Share Their Recipes for Success (http://schedulefly.com/rou).