Intelligent Opinions and Maybe Some Money

Joined Jun 13, 2002
Ok, here's the deal. I'm currently in the middle of writing a book right now. I have an editor and a publisher willing to rake over the thing and likely put it to print. So far, all signs are very, very good. I have 6 weeks to finish the manuscript, get it "grammarized" and "edited." So I'm under some pressure to perform.....

Now that I've said that, I am seeking a title... Better than the one I got. I'm comfortable with what I have, but I think it could be better.

So I come here seeking intelligent opinions as to a NAME OR TITLE FOR THE BOOK, if chosen, I will pay you $150 bucks! And you'll get some kind of bragging rights... (Don't ask me what, but some kind). I'm also seeking opinions as to your thoughts on the overall book exerpt and if this is something that arouses your curiosity.

Here's the story. It's all about restaurant failure. Failure based on what people often do wrong in the restaurant business and why so many fail in the same manner. I'm only posting the "Introduction" (uncut, raw, no spell or grammar check and no edit). This is part of the original manuscript, that already is copyright protected. This book is being written based on thousands of conversations with many different people over 9 years.

So here it goes:

Journey Into Failure: Why Restaurants Fail in America

Why do restaurants fail in America? What are the circumstances that surround so many failures that cause people to go out of business? Why is it that so many people go into the restaurant business unprepared for the realities and rigors of such a highly intensive occupation? Is there a common thread behind the high failure rate of restaurant in America? Is one side of the industry safer to operate from than another?

To begin, there is no single reason. Because the restaurant business is such a broad and distinctive industry, there are many reasons why a restaurant could fail. This book goes over some of the more common reasons why restaurants fail and identifies the problems that lead up to failures. Restaurants don’t fail on their own – they fail because they were poorly planned, underfinanced, poorly managed, or they were bad ideas from the start. Understanding failure is just as important as understanding success, and in order to identify with these failures one must understand the complexities behind them and what caused them to fail. There are some common issues behind the high failure rate of the restaurant business in America and we’ll go over some of these in this book.

Realistically, a restaurant could fail at any part of its lifespan. Many restaurants fail soon after they open; others go out of business after a long and successful run in the business. But for the most part, many restaurants that fail do so within the first five years of business. Different theories and research exists that suggest definitions and timelines to the failure rates in the industry, but since the industry is so large and expansive, there is a lot of ways to interpret a failure.

From the original idea to the final concession, this book will go over the reasons for failure at every stage of the development phase and provide insight into what causes them to fail. For the most part, this book covers an independent restaurant, though it’s based in part on a misconception of a chain restaurant. There’s a huge difference between chain restaurants and independent restaurants; and within this perspective, we’ve created a hypothetical example in this book that goes over one man’s dream to go into the restaurant business. In each chapter we cover the development process and then finish the chapter with the reasons this individual is headed toward failure.

Restaurants fail for a variety of reasons in America. When restaurants shut their doors, it creates an economic vacuum in the community it served. No restaurant closure is a good restaurant closure. People lose their jobs, local economies suffer from the loss of tax and income revenue, and communities lose a sense of their own tradition. It’s often a sad experience for those who worked so hard to help an establishment succeed, only to see their efforts thwarted in the end. Restaurateurs and their employees work tirelessly to serve their customers and keep them coming back, but for different reasons the establishment fails because it was unable to generate enough revenue to stay open, or the restaurant fails due to the death of an owner, an “Act of God” or some other unforeseen circumstance that prevented them from staying open.

Restaurants are an important and valuable component to the overall economy in America. Restaurants represent the broad and diverse cultures in America; they represent the charm and character of our communities, our traditions and values in the communities they serve, and the people who represent our communities. When a restaurant fails, it takes a large piece of this with them. Like a death in the family, a restaurant going out of business has the same effect on a local economy.

The hypothetical situation created in this book is based on thousands of conversations with experienced and non-experienced restaurant owners, business plan reviews, on-site consultations, various research on different segments in the restaurant industry, hundreds of conversations with journalists, industry consultants and industry enthusiasts. We went to great lengths to condense as much of this knowledge into this hypothetical situation that we have created. We would not encourage anyone to follow the hypothetical example we have created in this book. This is not a book that outlines someone’s plan for success, rather its just the opposite; how someone failed, why they failed, and the mistakes that were made that led to the failure. As we mentioned already, understanding failure is just as important as understanding success, and from within this context we would not encourage anyone to simulate the model we have developed in this book.

The intentions of this book are not to discourage anyone from pursuing their dreams or opening a restaurant as they wish, the intent is to bring to the forefront why this industry is so complicated, sophisticated and extraordinarily time-consuming to individuals with good ambitions, which in the end cause failure. People need to understand that the restaurant business is not an easy business to manage. All of the mechanisms one would find in any other industry apply to the restaurant business, if not more so than other industries. There’s a huge amount of government oversight in the restaurant business- such as health departments, labor departments, liquor control, taxation, building departments among others. All of these agencies have an impact on how the restaurant industry functions as a whole – though their intentions are always right, the people who have to learn about these rules and regulations often don’t learn about them or understand them until it’s too late.

A restaurant functions very much like an automobile. Mechanically, all the pieces and parts need to work together or the vehicle will stall. If one part or another is missing, you may not go anywhere. If the driver of the vehicle cannot get control of the wheel, the vehicle will go off the road. It’s the same philosophy, just from a different perspective and a different industry.


So you woke up this morning and decided you wanted to open a restaurant? You’re finally going to make that big decision that’s eluded you for so long. You’re going to give up your day job and pursue a dream that you swear upon. You have an idea that’s been spinning in your head now for a long time, and now that it’s taken over your conscience, you’re going to take a giant step toward your future that’s certain to bring you wealth and fortune. You will soon be elevated to superstar status in your community and all of your friends and family will be envious of your establishment. Food Network will soon be calling wanting to know the secret to your success and share it with America. You’ll be so famous that every town in America will follow your idea and catapult you in the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” You be legendary among your peers. And ultimately, there will be statues erected in your honor in your hometown that will last for generations to come. Your revolutionary idea will set a whole new definition for restaurants in America that will be copied over and over again, and your name alone will set the standards for all restaurant business textbooks for generations.

Sound familiar? Well it should. After all, this type of person goes into business everyday in America. Ok, maybe not entirely, but at least some part of the description above pertains to somebody you know or someone you have met in the past. As John Lennon wrote, “some may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” certainly applies to this definition of character. It comes down to a psychological definition of those who always say, “wait until you hear abut this idea,” or “I’ve got such a great idea,” or this idea is the best I’ve ever seen,” and so on. Realistically, many or most ideas are not revolutionary in the sense they have never been tried before. The chances that someone tested the same concept before you are likely, whether they succeeded or not with the concept or idea is another thing. The restaurant business is so broad and diverse, that no food or beverage invention is essentially a new invention. Sure, you may have a wonderful food or beverage item that may do quite well, but it takes more than a single item on a menu to being successful in the restaurant business. Relying upon a single pillar to keep the doors open in a business is often a fatal mistake. Relying upon a single menu item to sustain a successful establishment in the restaurant business is a mistake that should be avoided.


Thoughts? Opinions?

This is only an exerpt. There is a whole story behind this..... I'll add another chapter if this helps. I'd prefer not to, but I will if needed.....

Again, I'm seeking some intelligent input from this highly intelligent community.....


Joined Nov 20, 2000
  • The Culinary Tunnel "Vision":chef:
  • A journey not just of taste and money..but "The Restaurant Zone"
  • Seemed like a good idea at the time!
  • The road to ......?
  • Business in a culinary minefield
  • Navigating the whims and vagaries of the eating public.
  • Where is everybody? The death of a dream.
  • Turning nightmares to dreams.
Joined Jun 13, 2002
A couple things that have been thrown at me from other places, include:

"Shelf Life"

"Hitting the Blender"

"Bitter Business"

Some ideas............. Those are most fitting, but not hitting. Sorry to make a ryme out of that. But it's true.

Joined Aug 11, 2000
Chrose the restaurant zone was hilarious.....

restaurant failure for dummies....(isn't this a series)

Why restaurant fail
(the stories of xxx# of restaurants)
Joined Jul 28, 2001
I'm sorry but, I'm really going to have to know what the bragging rights would be.;) Oh, an also, is the 150. US dollars?

I would like to read your finished book, at a discounted price of course.:D
I've often wanted to write about the very same topic, but it's hard enough for me just to write invoices.
I would like to plant a thought though. Yours won't be the first on this topic and there are many therories of doom. With that,I've always wanted to investigate and write about people who have all the documentation, insight to failure rate, all the hurdles, etc. and yet, they still do it or invest in it. WHY?
Joined Jan 4, 2006
Hi Eric,

"The Decline of Restaurants in America"
Find out why restaurants are doomed to fail!

"100% Failure"
Why restaurants open and close the same day!

"Open a Restaurant 101, for Crazy People"
Never open a Restaurant on an empty stomach!

" Bad Ideas, combined with all you savings = no more savings and more bad ideas"
Why people will open resataurants after restaurant knowing that they have 50% chance to fail.

I hope that these help you,
Joined May 4, 2005
I would suggest something but I feel that Andrew563's suggestion, "86 Restaurant" is pretty much as perfect as you will ever get.



Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
10 reasons why someone would pay $50,000 for a plate of Spaghetti and Meatballs. :D
Joined Jan 5, 2001
I've opened and closed a couple of restaurants in my day, and have decided the only types of people who voluntarily open a restaurant are the extremely wealthy and the extremely stupid. Sometimes the stupid hit the mark and become the wealthy. I'm not bitter or anything......

I'm not Bitter
What if you opened a restaurant and nobody came.
Joined Jan 4, 2006
Yes, why would someone open a business that has 50% chance of failure?

It's the dream...

The dream of owning a restaurant and all the glamour that comes with it:lol:

Oh, that's right, their is no GLAMOUR:crazy:

There is no explaination, people do stupid things everyday!
Joined Jun 13, 2002
So many great ideas... where to really begin! I'm wondering if I should post another exerpt from a separate chapter, to see if it sparks some more imagination!

I agree that the title shouldn't have failure in it. Almost makes me wonder if I should go to the contrary and say, "How Not to Succeed" in the restaurant biz.... or something along those lines.

The book is all about one man's journey directly into failure. It's intentionally written that way, at the end of each chapter I point out the classic mistakes he's made - so you can why there would be some humor in it.....

Keep in mind, those who fail represent the largest segment in the industry. We all know this! I'm trying to point out the key areas where people fail, and why they do some of the things they do. Again, it's based on experience!

Hope this helps.....

Joined Jun 13, 2002
Someone from another place sent me this one on my e-mail:

"I'll Take The Reality Check, Please! A Journey Into The Numbers, People and Ambitions That Cause Restaurants To Fail"

Whatchya think?


Joined Jul 28, 2001
I like that one.
I was just going to post something along the lines of, "Betting the Longshot"
yadda,yadda,yadda Beating the Odds,Betting a Hunch,and losing.
ya think my life revolves around gambling?
Joined Jun 29, 2004
I personally like your original title best: "Why restaurants fail in America". (minus the journey into failure part, maybe that can be a subtitle or something) Direct, to the point, sounds professional.
Joined Nov 1, 2004
With that said in the title it spells a dismal source for reading and results in lower book sales. I do think what you have to say is very important however the title should give off a more polished positive spin on your important message of telling people what's up with a business that has a failure rate of 80% during the first year of business.
For example by stating "fatal mistakes to avoid in the restaurant biz" or something of that style of verse has a more positive spin in which the title sounds like you are reaching out to help people with their restaurants or anybody that is considering of opening a restaurant as a business.

"Walking the straight and narrow path to restaurant success"
A guide to avoiding the pitfalls of restaurant failure
This title sounds like you are trying to help people rather then being cute with a funny or gloomy title. It gives the hope that you could be successful in the industry yet it also has a warning that the business does have fatal pitfalls and that one must walk a straight and narrow path in order to avoid closing their business. That is the kind of title you should strive for. I feel that I would be more inclined to purchase a book that sounds like it is designed to help me rather then scare me away from the industry that I love.
Anyways that is my 2.5 cents worth. I don't feel that creative to pop out anything else at the moment so good luck.

Joined Jun 13, 2002
Still working on the title and the book for that matter.

There's been a ton of great ideas thrown our way, so stay tuned....

The book has some really great twists and turns that identify the subject, "Why Restaurants Fail in America."

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