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Tips on How to run a Small Restaurant - by Gordon Ramsay.

Updated on April 4, 2015

"The customer is the king."

"No matter how hard you work or what dishes you serve, it does not mean anything if the customer’s are not satisfied."

In fact there is always a common thing that a lot of restaurant owner’s forget. "The customer is the king”. Without them you are nobody. If you want your restaurant to flourish always think and work from a customer point of view. You must see from their eyes and taste from their mouth. Your Chef is cooking for them and your waiter’s are serving for them too.

"Even if you have the most paid chef in your kitchen, it means nothing when you don’t have happy clients." When you arrange a new dish or change something in it always ask yourself :

“How will my customer’s react to this?”. "Will they be satisfied or happy that they have discovered a new place where they can eat a properly cooked dish?" Or they will walk out in disguise and never turn back? These are the questions that you should ask yourself.

Starting a business

Starting a business is always difficult, especially if it is a "restaurant". But mainly the most difficult thing involves it's management. Restaurants have to take on competition and to be on their top during any season of the year. Plenty of bars and small restaurants don't manage to flourish and the reason is weak leadership. So, how should I Run my Restaurant?

A restaurant begins with passion and lot’s of courage and of course with some leaked tips on how to run it. The greatest thing about a small place is concerning the budget. Which mean’s that you don’t have to spend too much on the rent or other side payments. As an owner you will have lot’s of challenges ahead when starting a new business, like taking on competition or keeping customers always happy. Getting through these challenges is not so simple. That is the reason why i have collected some tips in the article below, which are very reliable and easy to follow. Why they are reliable tips?

This is because some of them come from a well known Chef named Gordon Ramsay. Gordon Ramsay has worked for over 25 years as a kitchen Chef and he owns one of the most famous restaurants in London "MAZE". Practically he has turned culinary and serving into an art. In fact he is the writer of some well known books regarding restaurant management, small business ideas, cooking and serving dishes in a proper way. I would like to mention a specific quote of Chef Ramsay taken by one of his books :

"The secret is to make sure the business is running to perfection, with or without me." - by Gordon Ramsay.

Tips on How to run a restaurant - by Gordon Ramsay

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Chef Gordon RamsaySerendipity famous RestaurantGordon Ramsay is way to vigillentAt the MAZE Restaurant.Passionate workersAsian Culinary TraditionA really nice, small and private restaurant, that taken the heart's of it's visitors.
Chef Gordon Ramsay
Chef Gordon Ramsay | Source
Serendipity famous Restaurant
Serendipity famous Restaurant | Source
Gordon Ramsay is way to vigillent
Gordon Ramsay is way to vigillent | Source
At the MAZE Restaurant.
At the MAZE Restaurant. | Source
Passionate workers
Passionate workers | Source
Asian Culinary Tradition
Asian Culinary Tradition | Source
A really nice, small and private restaurant, that taken the heart's of it's visitors.
A really nice, small and private restaurant, that taken the heart's of it's visitors. | Source

Tip number 1 : Passion

You are the owner and of course the leader. So whatever you do is going to influence the staff. Maybe the greatest thing about running a business is "passion". Passion goes side by side with your hard work and is the number one motivator for the rest of the day. You see acting and working on your passion really can change your business, from gloomy and boring, to joyful and happy.

Try to remember how you felt the first day of work, or when the first customer walked in. Did you work only for the purpose of making money? No, you did not, you worked hard only because you felt passionate about it. That insatiable feeling of serving and making customer’s happy has driven you to the day you are now.

As I said the staff can be directly or indirectly influenced by your state of being. A restaurant’s staff which can be the waiter’s, or the kitchen member’s tend to watch every move of the leader. In this case the leader is the owner. Or you could be the owner and the manager of the restaurant, this doesn’t matter too much. Just picture a good restaurant like a "big mechanism" or like the organ’s of the body. If the state of being isn’t in it’s top, somehow thing’s in the mechanism or even the body itself will break apart. Now you can perfectly understand passion as an invisible force. That if it is applied in your place of work it will definitely create a bond of good relationships between you, the staff and the customer’s.

The right way of working.

Which of these menu's do you think is better?

See results

Tip number 2 : Always ask for more and be creative

Actually, being creative is one of the "primary tools that make the real difference". It can become very boring for your customers to see always the same dish on the menu. So try to be ahead of you customer expectations at least four months ahead. You have to surprise your clients in such a way that will make get back with the same excitement as they did the first day. How to do it?

  • A short menu is better than a long one. Why is it so? Well, every single Chef has it’s own way of cooking. You will get much more quality from a shorter menu. Since it will probably have specific dishes, which your Chef is very good at making them.
  • Cook simple and fast dishes. This kind of dishes should always be on the menu. Despite the fact that some dishes are easier to make than other’s, having fast meals in your menu is an advantage. Some customer’s don’t want to pass through a whole course of meal, they just want to eat a simple and fast meal.
  • Always cook with fresh local products. This way you will have completely satisfied customer’s all the time. It is better to have "fresh ingredient’s in the kitchen" than extravagant product’s that may probably difficult to find.

La Provance Restaurant.

A small restaurant in Prague called La Provance.
A small restaurant in Prague called La Provance. | Source

How should I organise time?

Percentage of devotion
3 to 5 hour's of work
First Shift
10 %
1 to 2 hour's of work
Second Shift/Afternoon
30 % to 40 %
Depends on the customer's
Second Shift/Evening
50 % to 60 %
An accurate time schedule is not so necessary, but is important to know the priorities during the day.

Regarding the restaurant's kitchen and menu

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tacos, a love at first sight dish.Chef's SaladAn Asian street cooker.Different and healthy way of cooking chicken wings
Tacos, a love at first sight dish.
Tacos, a love at first sight dish. | Source
Chef's Salad
Chef's Salad | Source
An Asian street cooker.
An Asian street cooker. | Source
Different and healthy way of cooking chicken wings
Different and healthy way of cooking chicken wings | Source

Tip number 3 : Competition is healthy

Everyone thinks that competition is difficult to take on, but "competition is actually very healthy for your business". There is so much to learn from a bad dish which you can always improve. So it must be kept in mind that competition is healthy.

But even if we convince ourselves it may be good to have some competition, in the end, we struggle to get rid of it. Well in my opinion, there is probably no other better validator of a business rather than some competition.

Tip number 4 : Commitment

Your business won’t become successful unless you are 110 % committed. Basically, at work we spend a lot of time with our co-workers and staff. Precisely you spend more time at work than with your family. So if you are not committed, things will start to go down. What I mean is that, if you want success "do it properly or don’t do it at all".

  • "Be ready for long hard working hours". Obviously, if you don’t spend a significant time taking care of your restaurant you won’t have any benefit. Being a family man or women has a lot of difficulties, even though you run a small place.
  • "Physical and mental challenges". Any day can become very stressful and disappointing, which sometimes can lead to a frustrated state of being. So be careful with staff and customer interaction, because if you don’t act properly you can turn a good working day into a nightmare.
  • "Don’t be the leader of the restaurant and leader of the kitchen at the same time". You must know that success isn’t always about doing all the work by yourself. If you want to have 100% success, do only what involves your part of the job as a owner. I mean, never take other charges like being the Chef. Just try to manage your small restaurant, so that your staff will feel more comfortable with your position.

What to remember :

  • "Choose a smart way of using your budget."
  • "Simple and fast meals are the best."
  • "Be creative "
  • "Always cook from a client point of view."
  • "Try to maintain a certain degree of interaction between you and your staff (you must be the leader)."
  • "Last but not least, work with passion and devotion"

Tip number 5 : "How to make a customer come back at my restaurant?"

Now the most difficult thing on service businesses like small restaurant’s is not gaining customers, but keeping them. More importantly, is keeping them happy and satisfied with you serving dishes every time they walk in.

Personally I tend to make a division of priorities. For example let’s say you have a place with around 20 tables to serve every day of the week. Addressing your dedication to particular points of your restaurant’s is not healthy for the business. So I have written down some points to remember about making a new costumer come back.

  • The first outer impression. Has to be the primary impression for a new customer. Keeping in mind that your service is being directed to attract a medium or upper medium consumer. So the outer label and guide for a good seat in the restaurant should have their importance.
  • How have you arranged space inside? Somehow a properly arranged set of tables in a restaurant has it's efficiency. You have to use in a smart way the inner space, usually not to put too much tables. Just keep it simple. A well planned way of arranging space gives your customer a sense of relaxation.
  • Inner decoration. Always hire a professional interior designer to decorate your restaurant. Don't try to be smart doing it yourself. It will probably be better if you spend some money on a designer rather than on thing's without taste.
  • The service which is provided by the waiters. Well, this totally has to be mentioned. The waiter's and their service represent your restaurant's image. Try to hire some decent people for this job. Obviously, some with experience.
  • Finally the quality of the kitchen. The kitchen is the backstage of a "theatrical play" made by "the scene", "the costumer's", "the dishes to be served", "the waiters" etc. What I mean is that without a well organised backstage (presuming it to be the kitchen) you can't do anything. Your kitchen's quality has to be on 50 % of your concern's.

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      2 years ago

      I think Gordon Ramsey is fab and makes sense in what he says I love watching his programe on kitchen nightmares and its always fair and heart felt . We have a restaurant in the Isle of man and although its steady I feel we have lost some custom!!!so brings me to my next question will Gordon be doing any thing like this in the UK would love him to give us advice on ours in the IOM hers hoping !!!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I love Gordon Ramsay and this was a great article, HOWEVER, all of the out of place apostrophes made it difficult to read without stopping here and there to make sense of what I was reading.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      great stuff


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