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What is a Restaurateur?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2016
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Restaurateur is the French-inspired name for owner of a restaurant. The word is often spelled restauranteur instead. While restaurateur is considered more correct, the common usage of the restauranteur means it is not entirely incorrect, and both terms are used in the culinary world.

The fledgling restaurateur is someone with a budget, a vision, and a certain amount of bravery. It used to be frequently quoted that restaurants had a 90% failure rate in their first year. Actual studies on this find this exaggerated, and the statistic for failure lie at approximately 60%. This is still a big risk when going into a business; people are more likely to fail than succeed. Any budget in hand could be long gone, and any vision for fantastic food might be a nightmare before year one ends. Yet there’s always that chance of success when people are willing to risk the investment.

These daunting statistics do not stop people from entering the field as a restaurateur, and those who own a restaurant can come from very varied backgrounds. Someone could be owner in a restaurant with very little involvement in it. They could essentially be financing the creativity of others because they find it a profitable concern. Occasionally, a celebrity will become a restaurant owner, and the main draw will be the celebrity name attached to the restaurant.

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Alternately, the restaurateur may have worked in numerous restaurants in varying capacities and feel they know how to run one. Some come to this business with lots of training, including studies at hotel and restaurant management schools. They may actively manage the restaurant, see to hiring chefs and other employees, and plan all aspects of it. Those who have a great sense of how to provide wonderful food and excellent service can prove very successful.

Another of type of restaurateur is the chef/owner. As chefs begin to establish a reputation cooking in the kitchens of others, they may dream of having their own place, where they answer only to their own vision of how food should be created. Some chefs have done extremely well in this capacity and names like Wolfgang Puck, Gordon Ramsay, and Emeril Lagasse may spring to mind. Very famous chefs may own not one restaurant, but numerous ones, or they may be less well known but have a terrific local restaurant.

While using restaurateur seems to imply only fancy restaurants, it really means any restaurant owner, whether uninvolved investor, or skilled manager or chef. The owner of the local barbecue pit is just as much a restaurateur as the owner of ten fancy restaurants in big cities. Moreover, no matter how sophisticated or simple the menu and location, each of these professionals has taken that initial plunge, risked their investment, and hoped that they would be among the 40% who make it past year one.

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