The Surprising Truth About Restaurant Culture

Last week I ran my Ultimate Restaurant Culture Workshop at Texas Restaurant Marketplace in Houston, the second largest gathering of industry professionals in the country.

I took attendees through the same process I use with my clients to identify, document, and systematize culture—tools we use to literally scale culture so it remains pure as my clients grow.

In an aligned culture the actual culture equals desired culture.

Conversely, being out of alignment means (for instance) that you aspire to respect all—or direct managers to be servant leaders.

When you look at reality, however, you know your team does not constantly practice respecting, and you think about some leaders who work top-down.

When Nobody Raised Their Hand


Toward the end of the workshop, I asked the attendees to rate the alignment level of the culture in their organization on a scale of 1 to 10.

A 1 meant not aligned at all. 10 meant completely aligned.

I asked for a show of hands for those who had rated the alignment of their culture over 5 on that scale.

Not a single restaurateur raised their hand.

As they say in Great Britain, I felt gob-smacked.

That means astounded.

Now, let’s face it: Some people in the crowd feel super-proud of their culture but did not want to brag.

Like my neighbor who always keeps their Tesla SUV out of view in the garage.

And there may be some others who live life being very hard on themselves and plead guilty to that disease where they do not give themselves credit for their greatness.

Like my other neighbor who does an incredible job of bringing up two very different young boys but always laments what they could be doing better.

The surprising truth is – as an industry we have a long way to go on culture.

The Imperative of Your Culture Being Right


I learned from my session that the work I do with my clients in making their culture real fosters a discipline that many restaurateurs have a greater way to go on than I ever imagined.

Culture attracts your guests and enrolls your employees—and can be traced to only 100% of profit.

The restaurateurs who did not raise their hand now know:

  1. Culture drives the future success of their business and builds net worth.
  2. They have a lot more work to do on culture to ensure it is working optimally.

Document, systematize, and reinforce your culture every day so it reaches every person who interacts with your organization—including every employee and every guest.

Every, every, every.

Over to you. What pieces of the culture you desire do not reach your guests? What action will you take to correct this?