It's not coincidental—reading is fundamental. When it comes to the restaurant business, that rhyme couldn't be more true. A great way to keep your mind sharp and your business running smoothly is to read books about the food & beverage industry written by some of its most thoughtful and successful figures.
Many high-profile, high-earning restaurateurs and industry observers have written down their hard-earned wisdom about the business in book form. Here are a few of our favorite books about the restaurant industry. Crammed full of business advice, reflections, and personal tales from years in the trenches, these books about the hospitality industry make for worthy reads for aspiring restaurateurs and veterans alike.
(Don't have time to commit to a whole book? No problme! Check out these restaurant-industry newsletters for more quick-hitting insights, or these restaurant-business podcasts for a listening experience instead!)
As one of the most successful restaurateurs working today, with involvement in household or near-household names like Union Square Hospitality Group and Shake Shack, Danny Meyer's book about the hospitality business is a must-read for any wannabe restaurant-empire builder.
Instead of pushing himself to become a chef, Meyer instead took the route of honing his business acumen in his early career. In hindsight, that turned out to be a smart move, one that yielded Meyer with a clear-eyed approach to the business. Reported Forbes: “With every hospitality concept Meyer analyzes potential returns by asking, ‘Will this yield today dollars, tomorrow dollars, or never dollars?"
This book features a collection of interviews from nearly two dozens restaurant pros ranging from Buca di Beppo founder Phil Roberts to Hell’s Kitchen star Scott Leibfried, this one is packed with practical advice for anybody who currently owns or wants to own a restaurant. One small morsel of wisdom from within its pages?: having a good CPA is as important as the food you put on the plate. And the number-crunchers cheer!
Fast-casual isn’t going anywhere, and in fact, continues to dominate. In this book from the founder of FastCasual.com, you'll find a deep-dive into this changing landscape of the American Social Consumer. Though the focus is on fast-casual, it's got valuable intel for restaurateurs pursuing a variety of concepts, because like it or not, the fast-casual model has powerfully reshaped the dining landscape over the past decade—and will continue to do so in the future.
Speaking of the number-crunchers: math nerds, this one is for you! Just kidding—it's for any restaurateur who wants to get a better handle on the administrative side of their business. Though it's not sexy, understanding your books is just about the most important aspect of running a successful restaurant. The numbers in this book speak volumes. From best catering practices and savvy financial decisions, to breaking down various demographical behaviors in the industry, By The Numbers is a must-read.
Anthony Bourdain’s award-winning memoir reads like a hilarious diary you can’t put down, but simultaneously provides a now-infamous unfiltered glimpse at the restaurant business as a whole. It's not a business book in the purest sense of the term—you won't find much in the way of formulas and operating advice here. Plus, having been written a full two decades ago, it's ill-matched to our contemporary business landscape, what with app-based delivery, online review platforms, and Instagram. But it's still a terrific read, and you'll find plenty of back-of-house wisdom in each chapter.