Every restauranteur has lessons to share. I have spent more than 30 years learning from some and teaching others. Recently, I had the pleasure to spend time with Uday Kadam of Guru Restaurant. Uday’s story is captivating as he shares lessons from his first restaurant job at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Marriott hotels around the world – where he learned the banquet business – and my personal favorite: Disney’s Polynesian Resort. During his time as Disney, he learned how storytelling is central to the customer experience.

Uday learned so much along this journey, and I asked him to share some of his most valuable lessons with our readers and clients – especially for those of you just starting in restaurants or thinking of opening your own restaurant:

1. Get experience at someone else’s expense

The restaurant business is not like any other business. You may have experience in accounting or retail, but it isn’t the restaurant business. Learn from someone who has been successful. It may cost you some time, but will save you some of your own precious dollars.

2. Meet all of your guests and personally thank them

As the owner, you need to be the face of the business. It’s great to have the perfect host that makes every guest feel special, but what happens when they leave? Your team members will come and go. You need to be the familiar, grateful presence in the business.

3. You must manage all aspects in all areas of the restaurant

You don’t need to be the expert at everything. However if you are not able to recognize and fix things like food cost issues …or if you are not familiar with how much you should be spending on things like marketing or supplies… you will not be successful. These are areas where All Pro Restaurant Coaches can get you on the path toward success!

4. Spend time negotiating a great lease

The landlord is selling to you. There are many locations available to open restaurants. Do not become so attached to a location that you will not walk away. A great lease agreement can save you thousands over the course of a year. That is money straight to the bottom line!

5. Pay top dollar to your top back of the house employees, where retention is key

We all know good help is hard to find. This is especially true for good kitchen help. Build a team you can rely on, and pay them way more than they would make anywhere else. In the long run this will save a lot of money in hiring, training and food cost.

My sincere appreciation to Uday Kadam for your generosity of time and wisdom! I’m looking forward to my next visit to Guru Restaurant for more of their award-winning Chicken Tikka Masala! Delicious!