19 Mistakes to avoid while running a restaurant

19 Mistakes to avoid while running a restaurant

Starting your own venture is something that most people can only dream of. So, you’ve already accomplished something. Kudos to that.

After a lot of planning and hard work, you gave wings to your dreams. Now, what?

Research shows that almost 26% of restaurants fail in their first year of operation. No one likes to fail. So, if your restaurant is running well now, you should ensure that it stays that way.

For those folks out there who are worried about the decline in business, stay strong, it’s never too late to start. Let’s explore some tips that will ensure that your restaurant reaches the top of the chain and stays there.


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Many restaurateurs make the mistake of choosing an affordable location to set up their restaurant without taking into account the accessibility, visibility, and the available parking space. Don’t make such a mistake and remember that the perfect location is worth the higher price tag.

If you have already set up your restaurant, do market research and find out about the items that would sell. Make your restaurant environment warm and inviting, and promote your dishes through special offers and other marketing methods.

Make your presence felt, that’s the best thing that you can do. Nothing even comes close to the word of mouth. So, make sure that your customers have a wonderful experience. If you can achieve that, then it is already a battle half won.

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A bad customer experience can ruin your restaurant’s reputation. So, take special care while hiring your staffs. Don’t just hire bodies, hire caring people with a smile.

Most of the time, the best hires come through the top performers of your restaurant. Play who do you know game with your top performers to come across great talent.

Avoid hiring people with an attitude problem, drinking/smoking issues. Hire people who are better than you, especially for a task you are weak at and pay them well.

Never hire family, friends, or friend’s family.

Instead of just  going through their recommendation letter, reach out to their previous employers and find out why they left. Employee retention is as important as hiring the right employee.




Research from the University of South Wales showed that customers spent more time in restaurants with upbeat music. Depressing songs lead to less spending, but the worst results happened when there was no music at all.

Focus on providing a clean, warm and inviting environment to start setting the mood of your customers. Even a single bad review can hurt your reputation. Check every nook and corner and make sure that it’s clean.

Don’t leave everything to your restaurant manager, do a periodic inspection and make sure that the washrooms are clean and also check for chewing gum underneath the table and chair.


Avoid over-staffing

It may be tempting to hire more people than necessary in order to ensure that the restaurant runs smoothly. However, too many staffs will increase your labor costs and reduce your overall profit.


Latest Equipment

Do not go crazy over buying the latest equipment. Buy the best equipment that you can afford.

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Lack of initial planning and leaving everything to chance is one of the reasons why many restaurants fail.


Present your ideas in front of your close friends, family, and other industry experts and get feedback from them. Don’t take any chances. Do your own research and come up with ideas which will work in the area in which your restaurant operates.


A very important aspect that many restaurateurs neglect is having cash in reserve. Have money in reserve to run for at least 6 months.


Grand opening

If you have already setup your restaurant and it’s running well, organize small events and bring famous personalities as guests. The idea is to market yourself by making your presence felt in the market.


If you are just about to open a new restaurant, plan a grand opening and bring in famous celebrities for the inauguration ceremony. Bringing in a celebrity will draw a lot of crowd into your restaurant and a simple trick like the lucky winner gets to take a selfie with the celebrity, will make the crowd go mad.


It’s all about making your presence felt. So, make it happen.

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Conducting a grand opening and organizing events is a great way of  marketing your restaurant but you only get to have a single opening ceremony.


Well, that was a wrong statement from my side as you can organize multiple opening ceremonies if you renovate and re-open your restaurant. But, the key point that should be taken into account here is that it is not possible to have multiple opening ceremonies without any reason and they are pretty expensive as well.


Market your restaurant online by posting drool-inducing images, recipe preparation methods, specials of the day, combo offers and by offering a discount on a particular dish.


Another great way to market your restaurant is by partnering with other service providers such as movie theatres, to provide a discount on their services if your customer spends an amount that you have set as a parameter for availing the discount.


Be active on social media and get your restaurant listed in different directories so that it becomes easy to find your restaurant online when someone searches for restaurants in that location.


Positive reviews will help you drive customers to your restaurant and a single negative review will mar your brand image. Don’t get annoyed or angry if someone posts a negative review or rating about your restaurant online. Be courteous and try to find out the issue that they faced which made them write that negative review. Never lose your cool and work out a form of compensation for the inconvenience caused.



Pay attention to your restaurant’s back-end, as they are the backbone of your restaurant. This is something many restaurateurs completely neglect and end up losing their star employees.


Keep your employees happy and let them know that you’ll be there for them whenever they need a hand. Pay them well.

Instead of treating them as an employee, treat them as family. Also, train your employees to treat your customers in the way they would treat a family member.

Greet your employees and hold frequent meetings in which you communicate with your staffs and ask for their opinion and suggestions. . Solicit their feedback so they don’t feel voiceless. Make sure that they feel part of your restaurant’s success.

If any kind of conflict arises in the kitchen, resolve them effectively by making sure you stay neutral while negotiating a solution or a compromise to the problem and never make a decision when you are mad.

Employee retention is important but never hesitate to send bad talent packing as soon as possible.


Listen to your customers

Just because you love it does not mean the customers will. Listen to your customers because they see things from a different angle.

Always remember the golden rule, “The customer is always right” when dealing with customers.


Turn tables quickly

Every customer that walks out of the door during rush hours is a loss in revenue. Based on the type of your restaurant concentrate on either increasing the average check size per table or increasing the table turn time. Make sure that your customers get seated and waited on as quickly as possible. Consider training your staffs to manage tables faster or invest in a restaurant management system to increase the table turnaround time.

Also, take special care to never rush customers, but if a customer is causing a loss to your business by sitting there for a long time even after finishing their course, politely offer them a free drink at the bar (If you consider that as a good practice).


Nonessential assets

Handover nonessential assets that are on lease like the surplus fridge, ice making machine, utility vehicle etc that is lying around without any use


Over-complicated menu

Avoid an over-complicated menu that confuses customers with overwhelming choices, cryptic language and a complex layout. Provide a menu that makes it easy for customers to search for dishes by arranging items sequentially and in logical groups.

Featuring the dishes you’re best at making can also attract more customers.

The menu is the most crucial factor that drives income into your restaurant. Special care should be taken to regularly analyse the menu to keep the food costs in check and the margins up.

When conducting menu analysis, monitor on a day to day basis and try to come up with at least one way by which you can alleviate your food cost. Also, consider eliminating the parts of a menu that are regularly being left uneaten.


Reduce wastage
Based on the past sales, maintain a record of what all items you want before placing the order. Special care should be taken to avoid overbuying fresh produce. Upon arrival, inspect the products and store them properly ( Before storing hot items in a refrigerator pre-cool them, ensure that proper temperatures are being maintained inside the freezer/refrigerator etc). Ensure that everything is organised and labelled with their purchase date.

Letting your staffs know that you are going to monitor what gets dumped and following up using clear plastic bags helps. Also, consider donating food items that you are not planning to use.


Pre-launch training

Properly trained staffs are the lifeblood of your restaurant. It is impossible to manage the restaurant on your own without loyal employees. Paying them fairly, providing meaningful feedback in a constructive manner, and making them feel valued will make them happy and hard working.



Customers like consistency. It’s important to maintain the quality and consistency of your food to keep your customers coming back for more.


P&L Statement

Know how to do a profit and loss statement to the penny, leave nothing.

Leaving accounting and financing to the last minute is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.


Portion Size
No one notices if you offer too much food, but everyone loses their mind if you are giving less.

So, special care should be taken while controlling the portion size as it’s important to keep the portion sizes in check to maintain the overall restaurant profits.


Other mistakes that you should avoid making are running out of stock and leaving everything up to your restaurant manager. Having the right restaurant management system installed will simplify these steps for you by monitoring everything and making the data available for you anywhere, anytime.


Avoid these 19 mistakes to ensure a smooth functioning of your restaurant. Did we miss something? Let us know in the comment section below.

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