Books on restaurant management: 8 inspiring reads!

A man leaning against a wall while reading a book. There's a cup of takeaway coffee next to him.
A man leaning against a wall while reading a book. There's a cup of takeaway coffee next to him.
Photo: mentatdgt

Sometimes managing a restaurant can feel like solving a Rubik’s Cube — there’s often that one messy side. Whatever that side is for you today, tomorrow, and next year, there are restaurant people out there who know what you’re dealing with. They’ve been there and made it through to the other side, and now they’re sharing their stories in writing.  

Must-read restaurant management books

Learnings from other industry people are some of the most valuable bits of information you can let your mind absorb. You’re not going to agree with all of them. At times, you might even want to shout back at the pages, and that’s fine. After all, you may know a thing or two that they haven’t discovered.

Nevertheless, when you dive into these books, chances are good that you’ll stumble upon little grains of golden insights to help you power through the biggest challenges of restaurant life.

To save you from spending hours browsing bookstores and library shelves, we’ve put together a list of must-read books for restaurant managers and everyone else interested in what it takes to run a restaurant.

Take a deep dive and turn pages all week, or snack on a few pages whenever you find the time. You’ll come out richer on ideas, passion fuel, and motivation!

1: Restaurant Owners Uncorked: Twenty Owners Share Their Recipes for Success 

Author: Wil Brawley

Score on Goodreads: 4

If you decide to spend time with this book, you can read a varied collection of twenty interviews with a broad range of charismatic industry people, such as restaurant owners, Hell’s Kitchen cast members, and a pizzeria owner who was invited to cook deep-pan pizzas for President Obama in The White House. Whether you’re dreaming about opening a restaurant, already own one, or just want to feel like you’re having a chat with one of these twenty restaurant people, Restaurant Owners Uncorked is an illuminating and entertaining book.

Some things you can learn from this book:

Restaurant staff having a conversation behind the bar counter. Sunlight is pouring in through the windows.
Photo: Rachel Claire

2: The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secret 

Author: Micah Solomon

Score on Goodreads: 4.2

When you sit down or casually lean against the kitchen wall to read this book, you’ll find that what you are holding in your hands is a comprehensive guide to creating the best experience for all kinds of guests. The discoveries, secrets, and wisdom shared in this book come from industry professionals such as Canadian hotelier, Isadore Sharp; Chef and proprietor of the Inn at Little Washington, Patrick O’Connell; American chef and restaurateur, Traci Des Jardins, and many others.

Some things you can learn from this book:

3: Delivering the Digital Restaurant: Your Roadmap to the Future of Food 

Author: Carl Orsbourn and Meredith Sandland

Score on Goodreads: 4.5

While waiting for the postal service or your computer’s download manager to deliver this book, you can look forward to reading first-hand accounts of how other restaurant people are navigating the fast-changing food industry by embracing technology. The book’s two authors, Meredith Sandland and Carl Orsbourn examine how courageous restaurateurs have successfully met the guests’ many new demands by reinventing themselves in clever ways.

Some things you can learn from this book:

4: Restaurant Success By the Numbers

Author: Roger Fields

Score on Goodreads: 3.8

Combining your morning coffee with this book translates to a well-caffeinated ride through restaurant start-up stories and how-to survival guides for new and established restaurant owners. The book’s author, Roger Fields, started as an accountant before becoming the owner of restaurants in New York and San Francisco, as well as a financial advisor for other players in the restaurant industry. Each chapter provides hands-on information on all steps involved in opening and running a restaurant.

Some things you can learn from this book:

5: Kitchen Confidential

Author: Anthony Bourdain 

Score on Goodreads: 4.2

If you’re looking for an intense read that’s not wrapping anything in niceties and fluff, look no further! Kitchen Confidential can’t exactly be called a guide or a how-to book, but we’ve included it anyway. Why? Because very often, the best way to shake up one’s perspective is to explore how others have worked their way through the bumpy, dirty roads of the restaurant industry. Sadly, New York Chef, Anthony Bourdain, passed away in 2018, but his experiences live on in the honest and beautiful storytelling on each of the book’s 312 pages.

Some things you can learn from this book:

6: Straight Up: Real-World Secrets to Running a Killer Bar

Author: Romana Pettygrave Shah 

Score on Goodreads: 3.8

We don’t blame you if you pick this book for the martini-glass-adorned cover, but you can rest assured that this read has more to offer than simply appetising looks. On its pages, you’ll be guided through time management, financial advice, teamwork improvement, and much more. The woman behind the words is Ramona Pettygrave Shah. Ramona draws from her experience working as a bartender, bar manager, and beverage director. She’s on a mission to help bartenders and restaurant managers succeed while making their journey through the industry a happier ride. Everything is served to you with real-world clarity and a refreshing twist of sarcasm. Yes, you’ll even get recipes for cocktails!

Some things you can learn from this book:

Photo: Mentadgt

7: The Restaurant Manager’s Handbook

Author: Douglas Robert Brown

Score on Goodreads: 3.9

Some online reviewers have called this award-winning book a bible for restaurant managers, and while it doesn’t cover thousands of years, the newest edition from 2019, contains case studies that cover everything from restaurant branding and digital marketing to menu planning and food safety. Let it be your guide if you’re opening a new restaurant or use it as a reference work to improve in all areas of your established business.

Some things you can learn from this book:

8: Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire

Author: Barbara Lynch 

Score on Goodreads: 3.7

As part of the restaurant industry crowd, you’re probably aware that working in a restaurant, bar, or cafe is a way of life. A way of life that takes a certain kind of strength. Some of this strength comes from the industry culture, and the rest comes from yourself and your passion for the trade. In this book, American restaurateur, Barbara V. Lynch, shares her rags-to-riches story and shows that no matter where and who you are when you start, you can achieve remarkable things in the restaurant industry. Barbara opened her first restaurant in 2009, in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2017 she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

Some things you can learn from this book:

No matter which and how many of these books you decide to spend time with, we hope you’ll feel inspired by the guides, stories and lives of the restaurant people behind the words on the pages. If you’re hungry for more restaurant industry articles, you’re always welcome to drop by here on the DinnerBooking blog.

Happy reading!