Finance & Operations

What I’ve Learned from Opening My Own Restaurant

By Dana Krook

Smiling owner leaning on espresso machine behind cafe counter

Opening and running your own restaurant can teach you a lot about the industry…and often a few things about yourself.  We asked our customers what they consider the most important lesson they learned since opening their restaurant.

Here’s what they had to say.


“Creating systems and checklists for every aspect of your company will save hours of stress.” 

– Christina Grono, The Art We Are Cafe

From managing employees, to accounting, to various food and software vendors, running a restaurant can become fairly hectic. With so many moving parts, it’s critical for your restaurant’s success and your personal sanity to keep organized notes, spreadsheets, and records for every aspect of your business. 


“I’ve learned that everything takes longer and costs more than you originally plan for.” 

– Cory Kloepfer, Holbrooks Grill

“It costs twice as much as you planned on to open and get things up and running.” 

– Jeff Bendio, English Setter Brewing

Starting out with a detailed budget with all possible expenses is a great place to begin. That being said, there are some things you just can’t budget for. So make sure to have an emergency fund prepared, and a solid grasp on just what types of expenses could unexpectedly come your way. 

A restaurant employee sticking an opening soon sign on restaurant door
Pre-Opening Checklist

Starting a new restaurant? Make sure you’ve checked of all these items before opening your doors.

Access List Now


“Address employee behaviours immediately or poor work ethic and bad behavior becomes tolerated.” 

– Carole Hergott, River Bend Bistro

Your employees are on the front lines of your business, and have an ability to leave a lasting impression on your customers- for better or for worse. Ensure that expectations are set about etiquette, menu knowledge, appearance, and how they can help deliver the best customer experience. Don’t forget to publicly recognize employees that are doing an outstanding job, through an Employee of the Month program or with rewards and prizes. 


“Don’t change on a whim. Consistency cannot be understated. Customers want and need to know what to expect.” 

– Peter Crew, The Baker’s Brewery

Why change a good thing? If you’ve found a menu item or service model that’s tried and true, stick to it! Your customers have grown to expect the same excellent food and experience from you time and time again- don’t let them down by making changes to your business unnecessarily. 

Hard Work

“Be willing to do all the dirty work yourself.” 

– Randy Weiss, Studio Cellar

No one said it was going to be easy. As a restaurant owner and manager, there is a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes. Sometimes building a successful restaurant requires rolling up your sleeves to wash some dishes or mopping the floors long after the rest of your staff have gone home. But as the old adage goes, “Hard work always pays off”.


“There are so many balls to juggle. The only way to achieve success is teamwork. Hire people you trust and like to work with, because you are with them all the time and you’ll need to trust that they will run your business the way you wish you could if you could clone yourself.”

– Lisa Costantini, Za Pizzeria

It’s easy to think of yourself as a one-man or one-woman show. You have time, energy, and money invested in the success of your restaurant, but don’t forget you’ve got a team behind you! Hire quality people that you respect for their work ethic, values, and experience and you’ll see that many hands truly do make light work. 


“Smile, laugh, and get back to work – There’s always something that needs doing.” 

– David Lustig, Brooklyn Pizza

“Keep the line moving with a smile. Customer service is the most import thing for loyalty.” 

– Chris Caine, The Real Life Cafe

Flash those pearly whites, a smile can go a long way! Not only will a friendly smile make customers feel more welcome, it also has positive effects on your own psyche. Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins making us feel happier and less stressed. Win-Win! 

A restaurant employee sticking an opening soon sign on restaurant door
Pre-Opening Checklist

Starting a new restaurant? Make sure you’ve checked of all these items before opening your doors.

Access List Now
Photo of Dana Krook
by Dana Krook

Dana is the former Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, sharing tips for and stories of restaurateurs turning their passion into success. She loves homemade hot sauce, deep fried pickles and finding excuses to consume real maple syrup.

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