Document Type

Honors Thesis


The hospitality industry, restaurants specifically, is renowned for its failure rates and volatility. Is this a deserved reputation? Looking up the answer will provide mixed results; some studies will tell you that 60% of restaurants will fail in the first year and 80% will fail in the first five years (Krimmel). Other studies state vastly different facts. One study says there is only a 30% failure rate of restaurants (Sidney). Who are we to believe in this war of numbers? In this paper, I will not argue the validity of the numbers; instead, I will study what differentiates the success from the failures. In this thesis I wish to understand the reason restaurants are successful in the first place. I will analyze and confirm whether prior knowledge, product, location, menu development, guest experience management, owner involvement, marketing, staff satisfaction, and financial understanding are truly correlated with the success of restaurants. In order to do this, I conducted primary ethnographic research in the form of structured interviews with owners of current thriving restaurants. According to the University of Virginia, an ethnographic study “is a qualitative method for collecting data often used in the social and behavioral sciences” (Ethnographic Research | Research). In this study I analyzed how the nine qualities I have selected have impacted their business, whether that be positively or negatively. By talking with current owners, I made conclusions about what makes a restaurant successful in today’s economy. For those heading into the industry, it is beneficial to understand the problems others have faced when they entered the food service industry and have continued to face while still working in this industry. This thesis provides advice to those entering the industry by creating a concise list of what makes a restaurant successful. With this list, prospective owners can increase their own understanding and skills related to the food service industry and, as a result, plan accordingly when operating their own business. Planning accordingly can mean Patrick 3 hiring staff who have the knowledge you do not or seeking out relevant education; whatever is chosen, it allows for better preparation in this undertaking.



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