There are thousands of books you could read to learn more about food service, bar management, mixology, or any restaurant industry topics. Unfortunately, if you're in the industry, you likely don't have the luxury of spare time. Don't worry: we’ve put together a curated list of some of our favorite bar and restaurant business books worth reading.
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Anthony Bourdain may be one of the most culturally influential chefs to ever exist. In many ways he is responsible for the present state of the food and beverage industry. There are quite a few chefs, restaurant owners and bartenders who would credit Bourdain with their decision to go into the industry. For Bourdain, all of this started with the book, Kitchen Confidential.
The book is an honest and insightful memoir written about Bourdain’s early beginnings and professional experiences in the restaurant world. While this book may not help you in your day-to-day operations, it's a fantastic read that food and bev professionals will especially enjoy.
Known for a lot of restaurants in the New York City area, Danny Meyer is most known as the brains behind national chain Shake Shack. Meyer takes a unique approach to hospitality, often prioritizing the treatment of employees first. The idea is simply that happy employees create happy guests. This radical notion has yet to sweep across the entire industry, but there can be no doubt about Meyer’s success using it.
This book teaches Meyer’s philosophy on restaurant operations, specifically dealing with the concept of hospitality. By reading this book, restaurant professionals can better understand how to utilize this concept to create better spaces for people and thereby more successful businesses.
The Chipotle Effect
Over the past decade, a new movement has appeared in the global restaurant industry. There was a time when a person’s dining options were practically binary in nature: fast food or fine dining. Today, a whole realm of fast-casual restaurants have appeared with massive success. This relatively new genre of restaurant balances customer experience, food quality and price per ticket.
Paul Barron is a renowned entrepreneur in the hospitality industry. In this book, he discusses the success of Chipotle and the fast-casual movement as a whole. You will learn about customer psychology, industry trends and more from a man who knows them better than anyone.
Smuggler's Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki
Martin & Rebecca Cate
Over the past several years, we have seen a resurgence in the tiki genre of mixed drinks and bars. Restaurant trends move at a dizzying speed and it is important to always understand these trends. This book is essentially an all-in-one resource for everything tiki. Even if your bar doesn't incorporate this genre, the book provides excellent information on the broad subjects of rum and mixed drinks.
It was written by Martin and Rebecca Cate, the founders of Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco, the most acclaimed tiki bar of the modern era. The book provides a behind-the-scenes look at the bar and everything that goes into it. Even if such a book doesn’t help with your restaurant operations, many industry professionals will still find it tremendously educational. With plenty of pictures, this book can also serve as a bar and restaurant design book.
For those who take a more scientific approach to their mixology, Liquid Intelligence is the perfect resource. This book breaks down the construction of a cocktail on a near-molecular level. Author Dave Arnold examines everything from the shape of an ice cube to the bubbles in champagne.
The book won the prestigious James Beard award in 2015, and anyone who reads it will surely understand why. Arnold is a tinkerer and a problem solver who approaches cocktails in a methodical, analytical way. If you are looking to take a similar approach to mixology, Liquid Intelligence is the place to start.
Without Reservations: How a Family Root Beer Stand Grew into a Global Hotel Company
John Willard Marriott, Jr. & Kathi Ann Brown
More often than not, the success of your business comes down to one thing: people. In this book, hotel tycoon Bill Marriott shares the story of his world-famous hotel chain. Marriott presents the story of his business as it grew from a root-beer stand to an international hotel powerhouse.
Marriott accomplished this by harnessing the power of people from inspiring his employees to creating a guest-centric business model. Marriott has always understood the power of people. Even if you aren’t in the hotel business, this book is sure to prove useful in any hospitality setting.
Restaurant Success by the Numbers
The sometimes unfortunate reality of the restaurant business is that it is a business. This book approaches the industry from a financial and analytical point of view. It provides real-life case studies that explain how to open a restaurant and keep it profitable. Although these “nuts and bolts” strategies are not the most thrilling things to read about, they will be the backbone of your restaurant. This book is as close as you’ll get to full-on bar and beverage management course outline.
Whether you own a successful restaurant, just opened a new establishment, or are somewhere in between, this book will provide you with valuable insight. Even if you are only in a management position, this book has plenty of real life strategy that can help you perform at your best.
It’s no secret that the hospitality industry comes with a steep learning curve. But by equipping yourself with the right information from trusted sources, you can stay one step ahead of your competition. All of these books are great resources for any bar, restaurant or hospitality professional.