10 Restaurant Management Books To Improve Management Skills
Table of Contents
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There’s a strange contradiction at the heart of restaurant and bar management. It’s this:
Your bar and restaurant is a unique concept. But it’s likely that someone else has experienced exactly the challenges you face. This is why there’s so much knowledge to mine out of bar and restaurant management books. From how to hire employees to how to get a liquor license, there's a book to teach you what you're looking for.
There has been a lot of trial and error in the industry. So, we scoured the internet to bring you these 10 best restaurant management books. Let’s learn from everyone else’s experiences.
Danny Meyer started Union Square Cafe when he was 27 years old. 30 years later, Danny’s restaurant group is behind some of the most successful concepts in the business. Grammercy Tavern, The Modern, Shake Shack.
Incidentally, Grammercy Tavern relies on BinWise Pro their bar inventory management. Never underestimate the importance of a perpetual inventory system.
What makes Danny’s approach to hospitality business (see hospitality definition) unique is the business philosophy he created and follows: Enlightened Hospitality. It’s the principle of prioritizing employees first. And Danny followed it from a single cafe in the beginning to an empire worth hundreds of millions.
In 2006, Danny shared the secrets and practices of Enlightened Hospitality in the landmark Setting the Table, which immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. It’s a motivational, educational look at how the right attitude and a healthy dose of respect for fellow humans can counteract all the scary restaurant failure rate statistics out there.
If you are a bar or restaurant manager, you should buy this book and you should read it. It’s probably the best hotel and restaurant management book out there.
The Restaurant Manager’s Handbook is an industry classic. Originally published in 2002, it’s been guiding bar and restaurant managers to the promised land since. And the recently-revised 5th edition brings it fully up-to-date with the challenges today’s hospitality businesses face.
It’s also a phenomenal how to manage a restaurant book. It’s covered in tips on how to manage labor costs and restaurant operations, sharpen up your bar inventory and bar management, and introduce profitable menu items.
That’s what make this book so great. It’s not a philosophical treatise on leadership (which can be great and helpful in their own way). It’s a manual for being in the trenches, in the weeds, in your everyday operations. It’s a crucial piece for any manager’s library.
Running a successful bar or restaurant is an exercise in tracking and reacting to data. It takes discipline. It takes a good bar inventory software. It takes time. And, importantly, it takes analysis and creativity.
Money-man and restaurateur Roger Fields goes over all the most important topics: concept, location, ambiance, menu, hiring, and profit. It’s a field guide to the opportunities and landmines that hospitality is full of. Listen to Roger, survive, and thrive.
But where it really shines is in its utility. It’s got a durable cover that makes it kitchen-ready and it provides reference for a substantial number of food measurements that make costing and standardized recipes a breeze to create.
We like it because, like BinWise Pro, it’s a tool that restaurants can rely on to cut costs.
Ah, the Dummies books. They’re all over. Why is that? It’s because they’re actually good. Including this one. Hear us out.
Running a Restaurant for Dummies covers every aspect of running a restaurant. It was written by Michael Garvey, co-owner of the famous Oyster Bar at Grand Central. He knows what he’s talking about.
It takes readers from concept, business plan, and fundraising to designing a menu and dining rooms. It also offers value for the current restaurateur that wants to drive their profit higher with marketing and pricing strategies (ever looked into psychological pricing?). It also helps businesses cut costs (like labor costs and overhead expenses).
Forgive us if we don’t keep going on about this book’s contents. Click through and you’ll see: it covers everything.
Next up is Tim Hoffman’s critically-acclaimed restaurant management book. The central idea behind How to Start and Grow a Successful Restaurant Business is that every single food concept out there started small. Pizzas made in garages, a guy with a pressure cooker, an old milkshake machine. All of those turned into empires.
So why not yours? Great question. And after reading this book, you’ll realize there’s no great answer, either. It can be yours. Because you’ll learn how to develop a popular concept, get a loan, navigate legal structures, avoid tax and code issues, create a restaurant business plan, run a swot analysis for restaurant, design a menu, and more. The book walks you through concept to grand opening with special attention paid to achieving not just sustainability, but growth.
First up is our very own Successful Bar Management. We think it’s one of the best bar management books out there.
What makes us qualified to write such a book—and list it first? We created BinWise Pro. It’s end-to-end bar inventory software that does everything from purchasing from vendors to running variance reports. And the reason it does all that is because we listened to the pain points of every bar and restaurant manager we know. And we built a platform to solve those problems.
Our bar management ebook draws on that knowledge and covers a many important aspects to running a successful beverage program. It covers hiring bar staff, streamlining operations, building a great culture, and tips from the front lines.
Another bar and beverage management book from yours truly.
Bar profit margin is so closely tied to bar inventory, we’ve got a lot of great information to share about how to run a profitable bar business. And, surprise surprise, a lot of it is about smart inventory management.
When a bar is on top of their inventory, they do a few very important things. They don’t purchase more than they need, which cuts down on sitting inventory and deadstock. They don’t purchase less than they need, which eliminates the risk of 86’ing cocktails. They curb variance and strategically price drinks based on sales forecasting. Almost all profitable decisions are based on inventory management and inventory management analysis. This book goes over it all.
The Bar Shift is a handy little tome that has a similar bent to Enlightened Hospitality. Everything in this book is geared towards improving results and work-life. You shouldn’t be miserable at your job. The Bar Shift helps you not be, in addition to helping you grow a profitable business.
It clocks in at just over 200 pages, but that’s not a weakness. It’s concise and to-the-point. Tailor made for food and bev, in other words. And in addition to being a great restaurant management book, it’s one of the best bar management books around. It specifically targets the bar management audience. Though it’s a fantastic how to manage a restaurant book anyway.
It’s also built to be more of reference material than front-to-back reading material. One can flip directly to the needed section and hit the ground running.
Consultants, distributors, owners, bartenders, sommeliers, barbacks, and, of course, bar managers. All of these fine folks would benefit from holding onto this little gem and consulting it as needed.
Ramona Pettygrave Shah is a bar industry vet who did us all the favor of dispensing a heavy dose of wisdom and wit with her Straight Up. It’s fun to read and, importantly, the culmination of years of experience behind the stick.
This is no book full of management and leadership hypotheticals. These are real-world lessons gained in the trenches. That’s why we think it’s one of the best restaurant management books out there.
She covers everything from time management to culture to finances—all with humor, clarity, and authority. It’s effectively any bartender’s or bar manager’s guide to all the attitude, organization, and leadership the industry requires.
It’s also got a section of mixology featuring a curated collection of popular cocktail recipes and tips that help drink-slingers set new standards in cocktail design. Bottom’s up!