Even before the pandemic sent everyone scrambling for answers on a week-to-week basis, running a restaurant was no simple order. The industry has always evolved, with trends, technology, marketing and, more recently, safety protocols changing almost as quickly as tables turn over. Staying on top of news and trends through traditional media can feel overwhelming for the average person — to say nothing of the busy restaurant professional who is juggling multiple plates, literally and figuratively, over multiple shifts.
Podcasts provide an excellent opportunity for restaurant owners and operators to keep up to date without having to dedicate extensive time to research or reading websites and magazines. Industry experts — marketers, chefs, tech gurus, the works — host podcasts that speak to a variety of needs and interests. Whether you’re looking to grow your business through social media, to motivate staff during the pandemic, or to learn about food history while you’re doing inventory, there’s a podcast for you.
While there are many engaging podcasts featuring evergreen stories (including “The Garnish” and Food and Wine Magazine’s “Communal Table”), for the purposes of this article we focus on podcasts in current production. So open your favorite podcast app and tune in to these nine great podcasts for people who run restaurants.
Inspirational and informative restaurant podcasts
Since 2014, “Restaurant Unstoppable” host Eric Cacciatore (yes, like the dish) has interviewed more than 500 restaurateurs on his podcast, developing one of the great repositories of audio industry insight available today. The twice-weekly podcast features award-winning chefs and established operators, as well as up-and-coming professionals, authors, marketers and others who detail their personal paths to success and industry tips. The highly rated podcast is engaging and conversational, and its website offers substantial episode recaps, services, and resources.
This monthly podcast is billed as a “master class in life as a restauranteur” that examines a single restaurant or chain per episode, with a good deal of focus on Chicago eateries. Hosted by former chef and current consultant Tobie Nidetz, “Restaurant Legends” interviews the personalities behind successful restaurants, offering insight and captivating stories.
We have to mention our own home cooking. For the latest in restaurant-specific news, this weekly podcast from Back of House covers the food service industry in short form. In an easily digestible 8-10 minutes, Back of House News episodes discuss topics such as the Omicron variant’s impact on restaurants, unionization, and supply chain issues.
Podcasts about the business of restaurants
This weekly podcast is hosted by Donald Burns, an industry coach (and author of Your Restaurant Sucks!) who prides himself on creating “unique programs and methods that create dramatic results.” Burns’ podcast — which is now nearing its 90th episode — promises cutting-edge techniques and tools for making more out of your restaurant without sacrificing your life to it. The podcast varies in length as Burns, along with the occasional guest, discusses how to manage a labor shortage and retain staff, fatal mistakes a restaurant can make, and the importance of a “guest journey.” You’ll leave feeling ready to take on multiple challenges.
This twice-monthly podcast from yours truly at Back of House showcases the trials, triumphs, and technical difficulties of successful restaurants. Hosts Claudia Saric and Zach Mack dissect unique restaurant business models, technological innovations, and cultures through interviews with founders, CEOs, and chefs. While not a step-by-step guide to running a restaurant, “So You Want To” offers plentiful insight — and many additional resources on its website.
Known for (and sometimes derided because of) its witty banter and engaging conversation, “Cooking Issues” blends in-depth cooking technology, food knowledge, interviews, anecdotes and, of course, solves for cooking dilemmas. The show varies in format and features a cast of characters — led by chef/inventor Dave Arnold — chatting at a rapid clip. If you enjoy the staff of this auditory kitchen, “Cooking Issues” is widely informative and funny. “Cooking Issues” is part of the Heritage Radio Network, a nonprofit podcast network of more than 40 programs.
Restaurant tech podcasts
Wish you had a friend to call about everyday tech issues and bigger technological decisions? The semi-monthly "The Restaurant Technology Guys" simplifies complex technical concepts in an entertaining way through explainers and interviews. Its production ain’t the flashiest, but you’ll meet guests each episode who create an engaging, behind-the-scenes look at how technology influences and improves the food service industry.
Restaurant marketing podcasts
Great food and atmosphere isn’t always sufficient to get a restaurant to its full potential — you also gotta get the word out. Every month, Marketing4Restaurants sifts through data from restaurant bookings to find out what works and what doesn’t, then presents that information in a digestible format so operators can increase turnover and profit. Information on social media, partnerships, menu engineering, and SEO are helpful for new restaurateurs and experienced operators looking for a leg up.
Yelp's foray into marketing podcasts is a single-topic quick listen hosted by Josh Kopel, a Michelin-rated restaurateur. At less than 10 minutes (and sometimes under 5), "Restaurant Marketing School" shares actionable marketing tools and tips on developing a busy image, building community, storytelling and more. Previous seasons also featured the hosts of "Restaurantopia," discussing larger issues around restaurant management and operations. RMS also accepts episode suggestions on its website.