The 17 Most Misunderstood Facts About Restaurants


There are a lot of different myths and misunderstood facts that circulate about restaurants and those who work in them.  Some of these misunderstood facts are simply urban legends, while others may have been true at one point but are no longer.  Here are 17 of these misunderstood restaurant facts that many people accept as truth.


  1. Restaurants make a lot of money. As any restaurant owner will tell you, this “fact” is definitely not always true.  Yes, most restaurants make enough money to pay all of their expenses and still turn a modest profit, but few are going to make the owner a millionaire overnight.  The costs of owning a restaurant are much higher than one might think—sometimes as much as 50 percent of all the restaurant’s income goes to buying food.


  1. All it takes to have a successful restaurant is to serve great food. While great food is certainly a key to success, it’s not the only thing that makes or breaks a restaurant.  Marketing, for example, is vital.


  1. Conversely, bad food may not actually cause a restaurant to close. Some places have food considered only moderately good or even somewhat bad, but due to the atmosphere, location, or other factor, the restaurant manages to remain in the black every month.


  1. Tips are extra pay for servers. Some people may say that tipping isn’t a requirement and that the servers make a good amount of money, but the hourly wage before tips for many servers is less than $5 an hour.  Without tips, many truly would not make a living wage.


  1. Servers will spit in your food if you send it back. Sure, this probably has happened before.  It may even happen in a few places today.  However, the majority of servers are too busy to worry about doing something petty like this.  As long as you’re nice about it, sending food back isn’t usually a problem.


  1. Every restaurant owner loves to cook. This is certainly a misunderstood fact.  Many owners are business people, not chefs.  Chefs, on the other hand, usually love cooking.  They’re just not always the best with numbers, which is why while some chefs do own their own restaurant, many do not.


  1. Restaurants have a large amount of food on hand because they buy in bulk to save money. This fact is actually true about some types of food.  Pasta, for example, may be bought in bulk, because it can be stored for a good amount of time without going bad.  However, restaurants can’t buy things like fruits, vegetables, and some other foods in bulk because they will spoil before they can be used.


  1. Restaurants waste a lot of food every day. This really depends on the restaurant, but most places have their food needs down to an art.  The chef can tell you about how many dishes will be served on a specific day at a specific time, which means they often only cook a little bit extra.  Food is also rarely wasted—often, the servers and other staff members are allowed to take leftovers home.  Some places also donate any leftover food to a local shelter.  Rarely is good food thrown away.


  1. All servers are ____ just waiting tables until they make it big. Fill in the blank with something like actor, writer, Olympic athlete, whatever.  The implication here is that being a server is just a temporary gig and isn’t a “real” career or life goal.  However, there are some people who love working in restaurants.  For some, being a server, bartender, or hostess is their career, and they love it.
  1. Menu prices reflect the actual cost of the food. This “fact” is one that would seem to make logical sense, but few things are logical when it comes to money.  In fact, many menu prices are set at prices people are willing to pay, not a price that recoups the cost of the meal.  This means that some restaurants do actually lose money on some dishes, but they also may make a good amount of money on others.  In the end, most menus balance out.
  1. Restaurants that serve alcohol make a lot of money off it. This is sometimes true, but to say that it’s always the case is stretching it a bit.  A lot of it depends on what alcohol the restaurant buys and how liberal the bartender is with it.  If the bartender is making mixed drinks with more alcohol than usual, the patrons may love it, but the owner may not.
  1. Owning and operating a restaurant is easy, all you have to do is make up a menu and hire some chefs to cook it.  From the outside, yes, it looks like an easy enough job.  But any owner will tell you that owning a restaurant involves dealing with health code inspectors, making certain food is stored and cooked properly, and much more.  A single health code violation can shut a business down, so owners must keep up with code changes.
  1. The only people who wait tables at a restaurant are young people and those who can’t get a better job. You’d be surprised at who works in restaurants.  Your waiter may be a published author in between advances, a college professor with a summer job, or an aspiring small business owner.
  1. Working in a restaurant is like being on one of those cooking reality shows. While Gordan Ramsey might bring in the ratings, in reality, a chef who screams and yells at his staff usually finds that they don’t stick around for long.
  1. Chefs get to make up their own menus. Unless the chef is also the owner, this isn’t necessarily the case.  Many people who are hired to work in a restaurant end up making the same dishes day after day and never get to experiment with their own.
  1. Servers and hosts in the restaurant know everything about every dish. This may be the case if someone has been there for a few years, but in most cases, people only know about their favorites.  Asking someone what a dish tastes like or for an opinion may not necessarily help.