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4.6 out of 5 stars
Restaurant Owners Uncorked: Twenty Owners Share Their Recipes for Success
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
Most of the so called "entreprenurial" books are filled with rhetoric from an author describing how he or she started a successful company. Most also contain a lot of what I like to call "fluff" and cliched advice. This Gem "Restaurant Owners Uncorked" contains e)none of the above.

The author of this book is a skilled Software entrepreneur (First Research, ScheduleFly), but admirably and humbly never touts his own experiences or opinions. Instead, through brilliant open-ended and consultative questioning, Wil Brawley guides 20 other successful restaurant entrepreneurs down an exciting path in which they each share tactical advice and nuggets that any business executive will learn from (including myself). Each chapter is it's own journey including do's, dont's, and what it takes to win. If you are thinking of starting any business, this book is a must read. BEWARE - Once you begin it's impossible to put down, except to run and grab a highlighter or jump online and purchase more copies for your colleagues.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I followed the creation of this book through the weekly posting of excerpts that the Schedule-fly website Blog provided. As a small business owner NOT in the food industry I was initially surprised by the common sense approach and situational similarities my business experience shared with these folks being interviewed. I have a couple of friends that have started coffee shop and cupcake stores recently so I was excited to share this read and great insight with them. The pressure of location to hiring the right people to getting new folks through the door and then making sure they come back because they feel you have set yourself apart from the other choices that consumer has are difficult... To see these owners with such different backgrounds and approaches answer the important start-up questions unscripted reassured me in some areas and told me where we need to improve in others. Definitely recommend this book for all small business owners who like to think outside the box..
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As someone who's been in the industry for a bit but just about to open their first spot, this book is absolutely amazing. It's not something written by some consultant who was indispensable to the growth of Applebee's or a professor who's done a study of 300 restaurants but hasn't opened one himself.

This book talks to a wide variety of owners, in a wide variety of market-types, and comes away with so many great things to keep in mind as you delve in to the world of restaurant-opening and operating. You get candid conversations with owners about how they succeeded and what exactly they screwed up (and you can avoid it yourself).

The book is done in interview form so it's not an author's interpretation of what they thought was the owner's most important information. To the contrary, the weakest part of the book is when the author does a few short "key points" at the end of each interview to give you the takeaways. Take those or leave 'em, you'll probably get something different than he did.

If you have a restaurant book library, this needs to be in it. If you only read 3 books before you open a restaurant (please read at least 3), then this needs to be one of those 3.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, and not because I own a restaurant or aspire to someday. I liked the book because every interview, without exception, contained valuable business advice that can be applied by any small business owner, regardless of industry.

What also makes this book different is that it isn't full of Brawley's theories, rather the content comes "straight from the horse's mouth" (in this case, there are about 20 of them)... all seasoned veterans who share their successes, and in many cases their failures too.

If you aspire to own a restaurant someday, I consider this required reading. If you like sitting down with really smart people over a cup of coffee or a beer, then this is right up your alley, because the book is essentially a collection of conversations with enlightened business people who know what they're talking about.

Caution: Don't read this book on an empty stomach - you'll likely empty your fridge.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
In twenty interviews with restaurant owners, this book provides a treasure trove of good advice on how to start and operate a restaurant. The owners discuss just about every important facet of restaurant ownership including getting financing, buying equipment, layout, hiring, managing employees, dealing with investors and partners, choosing a concept, setting up a menu, promotion and much more. I literally found a worthwhile bit of information on every page.

If you're looking for tips and ideas on how to start or run a restaurant, my advice is to savor this book - read a chapter at a time and absorb the information. If you try to read it too fast you'll miss some important points. Although the editor tries to make things easier on the reader by listing 5-6 key points after each chapter, I found that there was a lot of excellent points not listed in those summaries but could only be gleaned by reading the chapter.

Best of all, the interviews are informal and entertaining to read so you won't feel like you're being force-fed information. All in all, I highly recommend this book for anyone in, or with a desire to be in, the restaurant business.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Over all this was a good book with some good insights from owners or various types of restaurants. It was a good read however I did have two problems with the book which is why it's only getting 4 stars.

Issue # 1: Hello Cupcake on page 204 lacked a lot of in depth information that the rest of the chapters had. The common question asked to all of the other owners, why is the failure rate so high, got a poor response. The fact that Hello Cupcake has only been in business since 2008 and the book was written 2010 and published in 2011 was a poor choice for a business doing well over the long haul. It may have been better if the author would've explained the need or reason, such as doing it purpose to document a new busines that's just getting going. Even by itself it may have beeen ok but when placed next to restaurant owners that have been doing this for decades it felt out of place.

Issue # 2: A large majority of the chapters touched on the fact that the owners use Schedulefly, a web based software that is run by the author and his partners. Constantly seeing talk of Schedulefly made me wonder if the criteria for being included in the book was simply using Schedulefly as a customer. This probably was not the case but it's not the best thing to think of when reading. When some of the owners talked about Schedulefly it felt as though their responses were solicited rather than them genuinely liking the product so much they felt the need to mention it.

This is a still a good book and with some updates could be a great book. There's a lot of good information however it may or may not apply to your restaurant depending on your regional location. Most of the insights in the book are accurate.

Bill
Owner - Lammon's Family Restaurant

***UPDATE: After getting a personal reply from the author and understanding the comments abotu Schedulefly were not solicited in anyway I decided to re-read the chapter on Hello Cupcake. While I still feel the chapter is lacking, after reading it again I feel it's lacking more because of how the author decided to respond rather than thow the author wrote it as he generally asked the same questions of all the restaurant owners. Thus I'm bumping this up to 5 stars. With that understanding you will enjoy this book and I highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
As a developer/landlord, spotting the restaurant owner/tenant prospect who is likely to succeed, is critical and directly linked to your success as a building owner. Restaurant upfit is very expensive (a portion of which is often shared by the landlord) and often somewhat unique to a particular restaurant. The last thing you want as a building owner is the failure of one of your tenants, especially a restaurant, and be faced with the task of reconfiguring the space for another tenant. Through its 20 interviews, some clear personality "patterns of success" emerged and have provided me with valuable insight to apply when interviewing tenant prospects.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
Restaurant Owners Uncorked is an informative, first-hand account of what it takes to start and run, not only a successful restaurant, but also a successful small business. The book is really 20 books, each chapter an interview with a different restaurant owner, told in their own words. This style of business book is unique because it doesn't oversimplify something where there are many paths to success. There is no how-to section, no "5 steps to success." Instead, the reader is left to find his own role model and determine which of the sometimes contradictory philosophies make sense to him/her. Take business plans. Are they necessary? That depends on who you ask. Some believe they are a waste of time; you cannot predict what a market will want. For others, such as Jon Myerow of Tria in Philadelphia (I mention Jon because I've eaten at his restaurant many times) it was necessary. Between the lines, you realize that plans are poor at predicting market behavior but vital for raising money. Advertising is handled the same way. Other ideas are more universally accepted such as the importance of staff, and every single interviewee stressed the importance of staff. Two of the most important topics covered are whether to take money from investors and how to set up and chose the right partnership. Regardless of your goals, if you are starting a business without a trust fund you will face these two issues, and they will define every decision you make going forward. I was once told that when making a tough decision to ask as many people for their opinion as you can. When getting so many, you are not overly invested in any one of them. Luckily, Brawley has done this for you.

For me, what makes a book interesting, and consequently most business books so boring, are the little nuggets of knowledge (or lack thereof) that add context. The book has several, like starting a brewery with old dairy equipment or putting ketchup bottles on the table to keep the atmosphere from looking too fancy. But of all the ideas, the one point every reader will grasp is the hard work it takes and the scrappy attitude of the independent restaurateur, and we are lucky to have them.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
If you are considering opening a restaurant, then I would highly recommend this book.

The interviews are often very entertaining, and in each you will find nuggets of wisdom to help you plan your venture. Many themes are repeated by different owners, which helps to hammer the point and highlight the more important ones.

This is not a step-by-step guide to opening a restaurant. It will only give you advice on things to consider and things to avoid.

I had only two complaints with it. The first is the seeming plugging for the restaurant management software that the author is involved in (though I can't fault him for it if he genuinely considers it a helpful resource, it's just my preference not to have advertising thrown in). The second was the bulleting of what the author considered to be the key points of each interview. While I understand why he did that, I am one that by reading those it threw me off and caused me to forget some of the other points I had gathered on my own (thankfully though, there is always rereading).

If you just want to know what a lot of people have had to go through to open a restaurant, you will also find this an enjoyable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Fantastic, easy to read insight into the world of restaurants and the hospitality industry. Indeed it is a great guide or lesson in how to manage growth and change in an area that was foreign to many of the people interviewed until they entered the industry. The underlying theme of running a business, as distinct from cooking or serving customers is constant. It may be your passion but it is first and foremost a business. The treatment of fellow workers is a major skill. Incentives, fairness and consideration of staff as people with lives and needs is paramount. I've seen the outcomes of the opposite approach and was inspired by these employers. Training and advancement are other important facets of having staff. I'm sure it's all harder than it appears in this boo but it is certainly a great starting point. I'm not even in this industry but the skills would apply to anything, including life. Top book; ten out of ten!
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