Category | Culture | Discovering Your WHY…and Why It Matters for Restaurateurs

In our rush-rush 24/7 world, so many of us — myself included — can end up on auto-drive, cruising through each day and each new opportunity without a thought as to WHY we’re doing exactly what we’re doing. We get distracted by the noise of life and keep chugging along. Before we know it, we’ve strayed too far away from our purpose.

The same goes for restaurateurs. If you haven’t yet identified why you’re truly in this industry — the WHY behind it all — you may struggle unnecessarily to find your bearings, and in turn, have trouble leading your team by example and establishing a sustainable company culture.

Uncover Your WHY

Digging into the details of your WHY may seem awkward or difficult at first, but these questions can get things flowing:

• What am I most passionate about?

• If time and money were limitless, what type of restaurant would I want to create?

• What traits do I admire among other restaurateurs?

• At a core level, what drives me to make my restaurant successful?

• When people are talking to others about my restaurant, what would I most like to hear them say?

Once you’ve dug deep with these questions, it’s time to integrate your answers — your WHY —with your restaurant concept. And for that, you’ll want to establish some guidelines.

Define Your Guidelines

Creating guidelines — based first and foremost on your core purpose-driven values, traits, and goals — can help you launch your restaurant on the right path and keep you there when the go-go-go of business attempts to sideline you.

Essentially, you’ll have three guidelines — your restaurant’s vision, mission and purpose — that will serve as a standard for everything you and your team do. Simple is best here, so below are a few quick, easy steps to customize your own guidelines:


1. State what you, as a company, produces or makes.

2. Pinpoint where you want to be in the future — consider this your ultimate stretch goal.

3. Pull it together into one sentence, adding in any adjectives or phrases that may make it more relatable to your target audience.


1. Determine the unique angle or selling point of your restaurant or brand.

2. Define what you do, how you do it, and for whom.

3. Mission statements are varying lengths, but keeping it shorter can be more impactful. Aim for one to three sentences total.


1. Think about why the restaurant exists.

2. Consider the goals of the restaurant, including how it may impact employees, customers, and the community as a whole.

3. Put this information into just one or two sentences for maximum effect.

Be the Guiding Light

While it’s tempting to look at these steps as busywork and want to turn your attention to other matters, let’s try looking at it from a different perspective.

Just think about how someone would behave if they hadn’t identified their core foundational beliefs. Would they be confident in their abilities? Be able to laser-focus on what matters to them the most? Go against the crowd and do the “right” thing? Or would they likely fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone, flip-flopping between the latest and greatest fads?

Restaurateurs who get into the business without first identifying their core principles and linking those to the restaurant’s vision, mission, and purpose can set themselves up for the latter — all in all a very frustrating experience that can spill over to employees and customers as well. Employees need to feel confident and safe in your leadership. If all they see is a ship without a captain, one that is bobbing in the sea without a final destination or guiding light, it will undermine the ability to create a cohesive, loyal team and a thriving culture. As customers notice the lack of cohesiveness and consistency, they’ll be more inclined to jump ship too.

So dig deep and discover your WHY…it can make all the difference.

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