3 Hard Truths Restaurant Managers Need to Hear Today

Uncategorized Sep 12, 2017

Here you are. Running a restaurant as a manager. How are things going? If you are like 87% of managers out there, you might feel you were a little unprepared for the role you currently are in. Watching other managers, you might have had a sense that it was easy. Maybe you thought you could do a better job than that one manager who everyone hated? Then you were thrown into management and you soon realized that management is anything but easy!

Welcome to restaurant management. It's a lot like riding a bull. You need to keep your focus or that wild animal will throw you and trample you very quickly. To be a champion bull rider takes courage and the ability to make adjustments quickly to stay centered on the back of that 1600-pound beast. Restaurant management is pretty much the same in that forces around you are constantly trying to throw you off. You just don’t want to get stepped on in the process.

How you arrived at this position doesn't really matter. Nor does the lack of...

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Why Restaurants Fail

Uncategorized Sep 11, 2017

There’s only one reason. 

There’s only one reason why your restaurant will fail. 

However, first let me tell you all the reasons it won’t. It’s not your business partners. It’s not your staff. It’s not your market. It’s not your spouse. It’s not your competition. It’s not your price point. It’s not even who is currently president. 

The only reason restaurants fail is because of you, the restaurant owner. 

I’ve spent the last three decades working in the restaurant industry. I’ve owned my own restaurants and I’ve also had the honor to work with celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck for 5 years. 

I’ve had successes and I’ve had failures. I also have come to terms to be able to own all of it. And I’m here to say you can’t own your successes and your failures, then you can’t move forward. 

Are you still with me? 

Great! Because what I want to do is offer...

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Why You Struggle with Hiring

Uncategorized Aug 10, 2017

This blog post was originally published at Nightclub & Bar

Word on the street is there is a labor shortage for restaurants and bars. They call it the war for talent. If you really look closely, the truth is that it really is a war WITH talent. As an industry we have held tight to outdated management techniques like carrots and sticks. They just don’t work.

How about that old mindset that you must “break them down first, and then build them back up”? Really? When you break people down you end up with broken people. That is not smart business. You need to rethink how you think about hiring.

Asset or Liability

When you look at hiring do you view it as a necessary evil? Do you think of your team as an investment in your brand or just an expense line on your financial statements? There is a phenomenon called the Pygmalion Effect. Basically, it’s a cognitive bias that says what we expect we tend to get, just like a self-fulfilling...

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Feeling Lost? 5 Ways to Rescue Your Restaurant

Uncategorized Mar 03, 2017

When you opened your restaurant you had big dreams and a plan. Then there was a change in the market and perhaps your plan went astray. It happens. Actually, it happens all the time. Many restaurant owners get stuck during those challenges. They lose their faith and become prey to self-doubt.

Then comes the friendly advice from a “friend” (even though they have never owned a business themselves). Out of desperation, you listen. You add this and that, hoping to revive your brand. It might get a few new customers in the door, however the more you stray away from your original brand identity, the more customers you lose. It becomes a very turbulent ride. Welcome to the slow death of your restaurant brand.

So, what’s an owner to do? Here are 5 powerful tips to get you back on track.


First you need to be honest with yourself. You also need to take personal accountability for where you brand is now. It’s easy to point the finger and place blame.

  • There...
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Why Your Restaurant Should Abandon Coupons and Embrace Loyalty Programs

Uncategorized Mar 02, 2017

When business is slow, many restaurants turn to discounts and coupons in order to get more people through the door. However, discounting is rarely an effective strategy for developing regular customers, and can even end up hurting your business. We spoke to Donald Burns (aka The Restaurant Coach™) to learn why loyalty programs are a much wiser path to success than giving away your product.

CREDIBLY: What’s the main problem with a restaurant using coupons to attract customers?

DONALD BURNS: I find that people who use coupons are loyal only to the coupon. They’re not loyal to the restaurant or the brand, they’re only loyal to the deal they can get. I use this example a lot: Have you ever gone to Apple and gotten a steal on iPhones? Never. Why is that? They think their product is so good that it’s worth every penny. Their price is tied to their reputation. When you discount your product you devalue your brand.

Is there any scenario for a restaurant owner...

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5 Common Challenges for Bar and Restaurant Owners

Uncategorized Mar 02, 2017

Let’s say you’re running consistent profit margins each month and seats are usually full. Business is good. But maybe your bar or restaurant concept seems a little stuck. It’s not growing anymore, and you’re not quite sure how to get that momentum going again.

Hovering at a standstill and not being able to understand why is a terrible feeling. You know something about your restaurant isn’t working—you’re just not sure what it might be.

There are several reasons why businesses get stuck in these stagnant periods. And, when you’ve worked with restaurants long enough (like I have), you start to see patterns: patterns of success, and patterns of failure.

Sometimes you just need better quality questions to identify these challenges and give you the spark you need to get back on track.

Here are five common challenges that often send bars and restaurants down the wrong path.


In this industry,...

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How To Become a Badass Leader

leadership Feb 03, 2017

Originally posted on Foodable TV Network on November 22, 2016

By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert

When the topic comes up about, most people will easily say they are a leader. The cold, hard truth is most are not. They simply like the concept of being a leader and the sound of it. (Come on, leader sound much more dynamic than being a manager.)

But leadership is not a title. It’s poetry in motion. It’s integrity. It’s all action. Everyone can be a leader. This bears repeating: Everyone can be a leader in your restaurant.

Leadership is, at its core, about taking personal accountability. It’s about doing exactly what you say you are going to do with no excuses. As soon as you start playing the excuse game, you have dropped from being a leader to being a victim. While we talk about being a true leader at our restaurants and businesses, few actually are.

Let’s explore how that happens. If you want to really become a leader, then be the best version you...

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3 Reasons Why Your Restaurant Plan Isn't Working

Uncategorized Jan 31, 2017

Originally posted on Toast Restaurant Management Blog by Donald Burns 12/6/2016

All good restaurateurs make a restaurant plan - but what happens when that plan isn't working out?

When you open a new restaurant, people will flock to check out your new venture. You'll have visions of grandeur about your restaurant being everyone's new favorite place.

Then, the people slowly stop coming back and sales start to drop. Doubt sets in.

If you have ever owned, managed, or even thought of opening a restaurant, you need to accept that doubt will pop up when things get tough. The critics in your head love to make an appearance when things don't go as planned.

That’s life, and as tough as it is to hear, there is a huge obstacle in the way of getting your restaurant to where you want it to be. That obstacle looks back at you every morning in the mirror.

This might be a hard pill to swallow for some. However, if you truly want to excel in this industry and reach your potential, then grab a...

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From Restaurant Manager to Restaurant Leader: 10 Vital Steps

leadership Jan 31, 2017

Originally on Toast Restaurant Management Blog by Donald Burns on 11/4/15

Congratulations, you got the promotion! Whether that's because of your hard work, discipline and tenacity, or because in a heated battle the previous restaurant manager walked out, you are now in charge.

However, chances are, no one really trained you on how to be an effective restaurant manager. Many people in this predicament fall back on modeling the behavior of past managers they have worked with… good and bad. 

Act like those terrible managers from your past and you become like them. There is a better way. There should be a higher standard for restaurant managers to contribute to the culture of your restaurant and to lead the staff to higher goals of service, output, and positivity. 

Here are 10 steps to making the shift not only into management, but into leadership.

1. Take personal accountability.
From this day forward, you are responsible for the results you get. That’s...

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Are Your Running Your Restaurant Or Is It Running You?

Uncategorized Jan 29, 2017

Originally posted on Foodable TV Network November 7, 2016

By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert

When your restaurant is running like a world championship team, everything is amazing. All the training, all the hard work, all the time fine-tuning your team and brand are paying off. You’re communicating, working together for a shared vision and mission. It’s a thing of pure beauty to see a restaurant running at its potential and reaching for more. A recipe for success.

Unfortunately, most restaurants are operating on the other side of this equation. There is no shared vision or mission. The team has formed small teams within the team and they are constantly bickering with each other. The standards have dropped, the guest now gets inconsistent food, and your online reviews are hot and cold. A recipe for failure.

The common thread in this bad recipe is lack of vision and poor leadership. When things are going great, it is easy to be motivated and be in love with your...

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