While you must follow the strict guidelines to ensure the safety of your staff and customers, that’s not to say you can’t take advantage of an empty restaurant to improve your knowledge of restaurant management, running a business, and creating a recipe for success when you eventually get back to business as usual.
This is probably the only time in your restaurant management career that you’ll be able to take actual breaks!
That’s why our teams—who specifically work to improve restaurant operations, performance, and staff happiness—have curated a 7-course menu of the best books about understanding restaurant management.
So pull up a chair and take a deep dive into some of the most insightful and actionable tips from the best in the business.
Just like marketing, people always come first in the restaurant business. That’s why we’ve selected 3 books that focus on people—customers and staff. Improving these relationships is a surefire way to improve your restaurant’s service and bottom line.
Award-winning restaurateur Danny Meyer (Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Shake Shack) cooks up hospitality magic in his best-selling book, Setting the Table. He shares the many lessons learned as he went from one restaurant to an empire of Michelin-star hotspots in New York City and roadside burger joints across America.
While achieving Enlightened Hospitality may seem redundant while you only serve takeout, it should be a core value of your restaurant and hiring process. By championing Enlightened Hospitality and hiring a team of 51 percenters, you’ll improve the customer experience and employee satisfaction—which will lead to more repeat business and reduced staff turnover.
Let’s face it, restaurant management is a tough job. You have countless things to do and countless people to please, and while orders might be low now, it won’t be long before it feels like you’re just surviving through shifts.
Her no-nonsense, tip-filled book dives into what it takes to be a successful restaurant manager. You’ll learn her secrets on leadership and boosting team morale, which in turn will lead to smoother shifts and happier staff.
How to Rock Restaurant Management will become your go-to guide for golden tips on how to streamline your operation and build a team of all-stars — the secret ingredient to any successful restaurant and restaurant manager’s career.
Anyone in the hospitality sector should read this book as it’s full of insightful gems that will inspire your work and help you achieve your career goals.
Hotel tycoon J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr. shares his story of the Marriott brand, from its humble beginnings as a family root beer stand in the 30s to the global leader it is today. It’s a timeline of mistakes made, lessons learned, and opportunities gained in a business where people always come first.
As a restaurant manager, you’ll see that the challenges you face are exactly the same, whatever the size or scale of your operation. And that the success of your business comes down to one thing—people.
Without Reservations is an inspiring read that really shows there is no limit to the success you can have in this industry.
7shifts Customer Support Team Recommends
Our 7shifts support team is on the phone with restaurateurs of all sizes day in and day out—hearing their challenges, dreams, and what grinds their gears. Their suggestions reflect that—a memoir of a celebrity chef, and a textbook used on every restaurant management course. These contrasting books that show there’s no right way to create a successful restaurant. But there certainly is a wrong way.
4. Kitchen Confidential
📖 Published: 2000
✍️ Author: Anthony Bourdain
📝 Topics: Find dining; restaurant management; finding suppliers.
🌟 Goodreads: 4.08
The late, great Anthony Bourdain’s wild adventures in the culinary world, Kitchen Confidential is an exposé of haute cuisine—25 years of provocative stories, successes, and failures in the restaurant business. Kitchen Confidential was the world’s introduction to the weird and wonderful Bourdain, who went on to produce dozens of TV shows like Parts Unknown, No Reservations, and The Layover.
Bourdain holds nothing back on his own personal demons, and his dramatic writing is as much ‘what not to do’ as it is ‘how to be a successful restaurateur.’
Anyone interested in fine dining (or audacious characters for that matter) will love Kitchen Confidential. It’s an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at some of the most famed restaurants in the world, and an insight into what makes great chefs—and restaurants tick.
One thing’s for sure, Kitchen Confidential will whet your appetite for great food and reignite the burning passion one must have to create a restaurant that pushes the boundaries.
5. Hospitality Cost Control: A Practical Approach
📖 Published: 2005
✍️ Author: Allen B. Asch
📝 Topics: Finance; profitability; staffing.
🌟 Goodreads: 5.00 (*few ratings)
This one is certainly contains more practical information, and should be the go-to book for any restaurant manager or owner looking to cut costs and boost revenue.
Hospitality Cost Control gives you the formulas for effective cost control and profitability every restaurant manager should know.
Written from a chef’s perspective, this hands-on textbook provides in-depth analysis into everything cost-related: profitability, purchasing, production, forecasting, and control. Keep this by your side as you run through the numbers each week and you can’t go wrong.
For more info on controlling labor costs, check out the ultimate guide for restaurant costs.
7shifts U.S. Operations Team Recommends
As we deal with U.S. restaurants, we picked books that navigate the complicated world of IRS regulations, compliance laws, and state-by-state labor laws. Each book is very practical and every restaurant manager and owner should keep them close by at all times. They also teach us the fundamentals of the industry, with expert insights and real case studies on the most critical aspect of a restaurant: profitability.
6. Restaurant Success by the Numbers
📖 Published: 2014
✍️ Author: Roger Fields
📝 Topics: Finance; building a customer base; staffing.
🌟 Goodreads: 3.83
90% of restaurants fail, and it’s not because of poor food. Even the proudest chef will tell you their restaurant success boils down to money.
Fields’ uses his first-hand experience to explain how to keep a restaurant open after its first year, and keep customers coming back time and again. The real-life case studies provide a great insight into what to do—and what not to do—when opening a restaurant, choosing locations, hiring staff, and most importantly, turning a profit.
Restaurant Success by the Numbers will help you cook the books effectively throughout this uncertain period, and set you up for greater efficiency when you finally get back to “sorry, we’re fully booked.”
7. The Restaurant Manager's Handbook
📖 Published: 2007
✍️ Author: Douglas Robert Brown
📝 Topics: Finance; operations; management; career development.
🌟 Goodreads: 3.85
The Restaurant Manager's Handbook: How to Set Up, Operate, and Manage a Financially Successful Food Service Operation is a multi-award-winning handbook—the bible of restaurant management books. Over 1,000 pages of in-depth, practical advice that spans the entirety of restaurant management.
For any restaurant manager—seasoned or otherwise—you can’t go too far wrong with this by your side.
It’s like having the most experienced head guiding you through the essentials such as finance, operations, training, and IRS regulations. Plus, it takes a deep dive through the weeds of restaurant layouts, purchasing new equipment, hiring the right staff, reworking menus, and sourcing fine wine.
Recommended Reading: 9 Essential Restaurant Management Skills and How to Master Them
Bonus Resources: Restaurant Podcasts
You may not have time to sit down with 7 books, and that’s okay — there are plenty more great resources to keep you at the top of your game.
The QSRweb Podcast is a weekly show featuring the latest hot topics in the industry, with special guest appearances from brand leaders, chefs, and COOs. Tune in on your commute for bite-size news and tips to help your restaurant rise.
For easy listening but brilliant entertainment with eclectic guests and thought-provoking conversations, subscribe to The Dave Chang Show podcast. Chang is a larger-than-life character with guests to match — as they indulge in their passion for food, art, and music, and share great stories of their careers, successes, and guilty pleasures.
As a successful restaurant owner and celebrity chef himself, Chang’s long-form interviews and ranging conversations are a great insight into the world of restaurateurs at the top of their game.
Throughout COVID-19 and everything that’s come with it, we’ve been busy creating and gathering resources, we could publish our own restaurant management books.
To help you hit the ground running when you reopened, we created:
- The 7shifts Academy: Guided lessons for restaurant workers, owners and operators to get the knowledge they need to grow their businesses and succeed in their careers. Get access to professional and free restaurant management courses designed for the hospitality industry.
- 32 free downloadable templates to get you back to work accurately while saving you hours of time not having to rethink your entire scheduling process.
- Our Restaurant Industry Trends & Insights is another intelligent tool you can use for free. We’ve collected the data of more than 700,000 restaurants to measure just how various restaurant trends are forming and changing.
7shifts is a team management software designed for restaurants. We help managers and operators spend less time and effort scheduling their staff, reduce their monthly labor costs and improve team communication. The result is simplified team management, one shift at a time.
Start FREE Trial.
Liam is a freelance writer with 5+ yrs experience writing for life & entertainment brands. He loves fine dining but can never say no to gluttonous street food—call him the AA Gill of the street.