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What does a Restaurant Owner do?

By Nat Robinson
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A restaurant owner is an individual who owns and oversees the operation of a restaurant. Although, a college education is not a requirement for this position, some owners may elect to enroll in management or marketing courses to gain experience in these essential areas. A successful owner will need to be business savvy, including being knowledgeable of the food industry and business management as a whole. Good communication and people skills will also be beneficial, as a wide variety of personalities will be encountered on a daily basis. The owner's initial job duties will be to obtain a license and insurance, and to order restaurant supplies, but daily expectations will frequently vary.

Providing staff management is a key role in being a restaurant owner. The owner will generally be responsible for hiring and terminating employees. Employee incentives, including health care and benefits, are usually designated by this person as well. Most places of business have rules for employees and customers, such as age restrictions and clothing requirements. The owner will typically establish these prerequisites for his business.

Some owners are a part of the everyday running of the restaurants they own, while others may hire a manager to run the restaurant for them, while they remain behind the scenes. The manager will typically be the eyes and ears of the owner. Since this person can hold such an important role in the success or failure of a business, the hiring of managers and assistant managers is typically one of the most important decisions made by an owner.

Regardless of the number of managers hired to run a restaurant efficiently, the financial management is typically the sole responsibility of the owner. Bookkeeping for a restaurant is a big job and is not to be taken lightly. It entails managing cash flow, accounting for expenditures, and making sure the restaurant is not spending more than what it is taking in. Financial management can also include calculating salaries and raises for the employees. More than nearly anything else, a restaurant owner will need to be able to successfully manage the finances to keep the business open.

The owner will also oversee building repairs. This includes approving the repairs to be made to the building and hiring the appropriate person to make those repairs. In addition, the owner will be responsible for ensuring building maintenance is upheld. From broken windows to plumbing problems, the owner will generally be the go-to person to ensure problems are fixed in a timely manner.

Owning a restaurant is a big responsibility, but it can be a rewarding one as well. One of the key foundations to being a successful owner is providing stellar customer service. If the customers are satisfied, not only will they continue to come back, but they will invite others to as well. For this reason, being hospitable and providing a customer-friendly atmosphere is among the most important duties of being a restaurant owner.

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Discussion Comments
By SteamLouis — On Jan 25, 2013

@vigilant-- I think that's what happens when the owner is the manager and the only manager. He ends up filling in wherever there is a need. I've even seen owners go into the kitchen and help the cook before.

Maybe this is why family restaurants are a good idea, especially if you have a large family. Because if you can't do everything, you can almost always call on someone to help you out.

By ddljohn — On Jan 25, 2013

@whiteplane-- My best friend and I co-own a restaurant. We have had our differences but everything has been working great ever since we clearly divided the responsibilities.

My friend is the more business-savvy one. He's good with numbers, he can take care of the taxes and determine what's profitable or not. I concentrate more on marketing, menu, hiring and restaurant catering. We also split the hours and take turns managing the employees.

I think co-owning is a good idea if you know you will get along with your partner. And like I said, it's important to clarify who will do what from the very start.

By serenesurface — On Jan 24, 2013

My dream is to own a restaurant one day but I didn't realize that it was so much work. I think if I ever do own a restaurant, I will hire a manager for it.

By whiteplane — On Oct 25, 2012

Does anyone have any experience co-owning a restaurant? How was the experience for you? Were you able to compromise about business decisions or did you end up fighting a lot?

By backdraft — On Oct 25, 2012

I worked at a pretty upscale Italian restaurant for a few years as a waiter. It seemed like all the owner did was sit in the bar and drink and smoke all day. By the end of the night he was almost always sauced.

I don't remember him taking calls or filling out forms. He mostly just sat there dominating conversations. Sometimes he would draw you in and offer you a drink or tip you if you brought him something, but he could also be the biggest jerk in the world.

I left when the restaurant closed down and I don't think anyone was surprised when it happened. The owner drank the place into the ground.

By vigilant — On Oct 24, 2012

There is a little Mediterranean restaurant that opened up about 2 months ago a few blocks from my house. I have been in many times because the food is amazing and I have gotten to know the owner pretty well. He does everything.

He runs the register, cooks, cleans, does all the ordering, washes dishes, buses tables. Sometimes he has help but more often than not it is just him and he is rushing around the restaurant like a human tornado. It is not an easy job for sure.

By shell4life — On Oct 24, 2012

I was a restaurant owner decades ago, and I can tell you that it helps to start out with a lot of money. Whether you are a cafe or restaurant owner, you need to have capital to invest in your project.

When you first get started, you will have to do everything from maintenance on your building to buying tables, chairs, and decorations. You might want to hire an interior designer, and that can get expensive.

You want to be able to spend enough to make your restaurant attractive and functional. Once you attract customers initially, you can focus on wowing them with your food.

By OeKc05 — On Oct 24, 2012

@feasting – Don't forget that you would have to have a cook on staff who could prepare all the items you list on the menu. If you don't have a chef who can make everything on the menu delectable, then you may as well not bother listing the items.

My friend owned a restaurant for awhile, but her chef was only good at making certain things. Other items he prepared were just mediocre, and because of this, they lost business.

It might have helped her to have more than one cook on staff, as well. She could have found someone who could make the other items amazing, while leaving the first cook to make what he was great at making.

By feasting — On Oct 23, 2012

I think the coolest thing about being the owner would be coming up with the restaurant menus. Every time I go to a restaurant, there is always at least one thing I would adjust on the menu or one more thing I would offer.

I think that every restaurant should serve some type of chocolate for dessert, as well as a non-chocolate item for variety. I also find myself wishing for a choice between fried and grilled items, instead of having to just settle for what is offered.

I would probably have an extremely varied menu, if I were the owner. I think that would be my favorite part of the job.

By StarJo — On Oct 22, 2012

I've always dreamed of being my own boss, but running a restaurant business sounds like too much responsibility. The owner basically makes all the important decisions that cause the business to either thrive or fail.

I think I would rather take a step down and be the manager instead. At least then, my orders would come from someone else. I would still be in charge of the staff, but the most vital decisions would just be passed down to me from someone in charge.

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