10 Books Every Restaurant Manager Needs to Read

Charlette Beasley

Charlette is a writer and content strategist in Florida. She writes payroll content for Fit Small Business and helps her own clients create industry-specific copy for their business. In addition, she loves “beaching” with her two kids.

Managing a restaurant presents daily challenges, both inside and outside of the kitchen, and the most successful restaurant managers use insight from other professionals to help overcome them. The easiest way to learn from others’ experiences is to read. It’s not always easy to carve out time for great books, but it is necessary.

Restaurants are multifaceted organizations in which an employee’s job satisfaction is just as important as profitability. If you want to maintain a fresh perspective on how to manage your restaurant effectively, there are several books you should add to your reading list. Each book we recommend offers different perspectives and will help solidify the impact you have on your team and in turn the impact your restaurant has in the market. 

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Here are the top ten books every restaurant manager should read:

1. The Five Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell

John Maxwell is a well-known author and leadership expert who did not disappoint with this book, The Five Levels of Leadership. He presents an in-depth breakdown of the five leadership levels, with the lowest (and least secure) level being position. Understanding that people only follow leaders who are on the first level because they have to is the motivation all restaurant managers need to move up to advanced levels where they can have more impact and experience greater security.

2. Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer

Setting the Table is comprised of numerous stories from the life of Danny Meyer, a famous New York City restaurateur, and offers valuable business insights he learned during his years working as an entrepreneur in the restaurant industry. The first several chapters provide detail about his early life. Depending on your interests and the amount of time you have, you can start from the beginning of the book or dive into the later chapters that cover his restaurant career. 

3. Heat: An Amateur Cook in a Professional Kitchen by Bill Buford

In Heat, Bill Buford gives readers a look inside the realities of working as a cook. He left journalism to experience the madness and beauty of working inside a famous Italian restaurant owned by superstar chef, Mario Batali. This book is an easy read and is a great eye-opener to the challenges that chefs face as well as the passion they have for their work. 

4. The Restaurant Manager’s Handbook: How to Set Up, Operate, and Manage a Financially Successful Food Service Operation by Douglas Robert Brown

The Restaurant Manager’s Handbook is a great read for new or aspiring restaurant managers. It covers everything from selecting the right restaurant equipment and crafting a profitable menu to creating a successful business plan. Experienced restaurateurs might find the book useful as a reference, but it will offer the most value to managers who are new to the industry.

5. The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard

Many leaders find The New One Minute Manager useful for helping them build and sustain a successful team. The premise is that it takes very little time (approximately one minute) to help your employees set goals, provide valuable feedback, and redirect when mistakes arise.

6. Restaurant Owners Uncorked: Twenty Owners Share Their Recipes for Success by Will Brawley

Restaurant Owners Uncorked gives readers access to twenty interviews with a diverse set of restaurant owners, including one culinary figure who played a part on the hit t.v. show, “Hell’s Kitchen.” The interviews showcase an unfiltered glimpse into the different philosophies and approaches each owner took to managing their restaurant.

7. The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues by Patrick Lencioni

Unlike the other books on our list, The Ideal Team Player is a fictional read. The main character is a man who is trying to save his uncle’s business by focusing his resources on the basics of teamwork. You’ll find actionable strategies you can follow to hire, develop, and sustain ideal team members.

8. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

The Culture Code is another book that offers a unique perspective on teamwork, but it’s nonfiction. The idea is to create a healthy culture that can cultivate a successful team. The book offers a step-by-step guide you can follow in addition to examples of both successful and unsuccessful company cultures. It explores the reasons why some companies thrived while others didn’t.

9. Good To Great by Jim Collins

Good to Great is a good book for managers of established restaurants that need help committing to improvement. It’s easy to become complacent when business is good, and Jim Collins does a great job of showcasing the importance of staying innovative so your restaurant doesn’t fall from good to bad. The book focuses on continuous improvement; if your business is doing good, you can make it great. And if it’s doing great, you can make it greater.

10. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

In Getting Things Done, David Allen offers practical advice on how to improve your productivity when your schedule is hectic. As a restaurant manager, you can apply the actionable tips described in this book to help you create a more organized system for recording your ideas, prioritizing, and tackling your to-do lists.

Set up a reading schedule

Finding a list of good books to help you manage your restaurant better is the first step; time constraints will always be a factor. To prevent yourself from adding numerous unfinished books to a future reading list, consider creating a reading schedule. It can be for an hour each day or 15 minutes. You might even have to restrict it to three days a week. 

The most important part to remember is to be consistent. Once you set your reading schedule, stick to it. Both you and your team will be thankful you did.

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