25 Restaurant Owner Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a restaurant owner, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Opening a restaurant is no easy task. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and a little bit of luck to make a restaurant successful. But even after you’ve opened your doors, the work doesn’t stop. You’ll still need to manage your employees, keep your kitchen clean, and make sure your guests are happy.

If you’re looking to open your own restaurant, the first step is to go to a job interview. During the interview, you’ll need to answer questions about your experience in the restaurant industry and your business plan. You’ll also need to show that you have the skills to manage a restaurant.

To help you prepare for your interview, we’ve put together a list of questions and answers that you may be asked.

1. Are you comfortable working long hours and on your feet for most of the day?

This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your work ethic and see if you’re willing to put in the necessary time and effort to succeed as an owner. When answering, be honest about how much time you’re able to commit to working each day and make sure to emphasize that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to ensure success.

Example: “Absolutely. I understand that being a restaurant owner requires long hours and plenty of time on my feet. In fact, it’s something I’m used to and enjoy doing. I’ve owned and operated restaurants for the past 10 years and have become accustomed to working hard and staying busy. Not only do I love the hustle and bustle of running a successful restaurant, but I also take pride in providing excellent customer service.

I’m comfortable with multitasking and managing multiple tasks at once while ensuring that all customers receive the best experience possible. My ability to stay organized and focused allows me to handle any situation that arises during the day. I’m confident that I can provide the same level of dedication and commitment to your establishment as I have done with my previous restaurants.”

2. What are some of the most important qualities for a successful restaurant owner?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have the qualities they’re looking for in a successful restaurant owner. Use your answer to highlight some of your most important skills and how they relate to this role.

Example: “Successful restaurant owners need to have a wide range of skills and qualities in order to be successful. First, they must have excellent customer service skills and the ability to create a welcoming atmosphere for guests. They must also be able to manage staff effectively and ensure that all employees are properly trained and motivated. Furthermore, they must have strong financial management skills to ensure that their business is profitable. Finally, they must be creative problem solvers who can quickly identify and address any issues that arise within the restaurant.

I believe I possess all of these qualities. Throughout my career as a restaurant owner, I have consistently demonstrated excellent customer service skills and created an inviting environment for guests. I have also been able to successfully manage staff and maintain high levels of employee satisfaction. In addition, I have a proven track record of achieving profitability through sound financial decisions. Finally, I am highly adept at identifying and resolving problems quickly and efficiently.”

3. How would you handle a situation where one of your servers was consistently late or missed shifts?

This question can help interviewers understand how you handle employee discipline. It’s important to be fair and consistent when disciplining employees, so it can be helpful to describe a situation where you did this in the past.

Example: “If I had a server who was consistently late or missed shifts, my first step would be to have an honest discussion with them. I would explain the importance of punctuality and attendance in the restaurant business and how it affects our customers’ experience. I would also make sure they understand the consequences if their behavior continues.

I believe that communication is key when dealing with any issue in the workplace. After having this conversation, I would then create an action plan for the employee to follow. This could include setting up a system where they must call ahead if they are going to be late or absent, as well as making sure they are aware of the repercussions if they fail to do so.”

4. What is your strategy for motivating your staff and maintaining a positive workplace culture?

A restaurant owner’s job is not only to manage the business but also to motivate and inspire their staff. A hiring manager may ask this question to learn more about your leadership skills and how you plan to maintain a positive workplace culture in their establishment. In your answer, try to explain what motivates you as an employee and how you would use that same strategy to motivate others.

Example: “My strategy for motivating my staff and maintaining a positive workplace culture is rooted in communication. I believe that open dialogue between myself, my staff, and the customers we serve is essential to creating an environment of mutual respect and understanding.

I strive to create an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions. This encourages collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving. To ensure that everyone is on the same page, I hold regular meetings with my staff to discuss any issues or concerns they may have. During these meetings, I also provide feedback on how each team member can improve their performance.

In addition, I recognize and reward employees who go above and beyond their job duties. Whether it’s through public recognition or monetary incentives, I make sure to show appreciation for hard work and dedication. Finally, I always take the time to listen to my staff and address any grievances they may have. By doing this, I foster a sense of trust and camaraderie among my team members.”

5. Provide an example of a time when you had to make a difficult decision that impacted your business. What was the result of your decision?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you make decisions that impact your business and whether or not you have experience making these types of decisions. Use examples from previous positions to highlight your decision-making skills, leadership qualities and ability to solve problems.

Example: “I recently had to make a difficult decision that impacted my business. I was running a restaurant and we were experiencing a staffing shortage due to the pandemic. We needed more staff, but hiring additional employees would have put us over budget. After careful consideration, I decided to reduce our menu offerings in order to free up some of our existing staff to take on additional responsibilities.

The result of this decision was positive overall. By reducing our menu offerings, we were able to save money on food costs while still providing quality meals for our customers. It also allowed us to keep our current staff employed, which was important during such an uncertain time. Finally, it enabled us to provide better customer service since our staff could focus on fewer tasks at once.”

6. If we looked at your last three tax returns, would they show consistent growth in your income?

This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your financial acumen and how you’ve managed your business. Your answer should show that you have been able to grow your income over time, even if it’s not at an exponential rate.

Example: “Absolutely. I am proud to say that my income has grown consistently over the last three tax returns. This is due in part to my dedication and commitment to running a successful restaurant. I have implemented strategies such as increasing menu items, expanding our catering services, and creating loyalty programs for customers. These initiatives have resulted in increased revenue and customer satisfaction.

I also understand the importance of staying up-to-date with industry trends and technology. As such, I have invested in marketing tools and software to help me better manage inventory, track sales, and analyze customer data. By taking these steps, I have been able to maximize profits while providing an excellent dining experience for my customers.”

7. What would you do if a supplier was offering a product at a lower price than you could afford?

This question can help interviewers understand how you would handle a challenging situation. In your answer, explain what steps you would take to find an alternative supplier or product that meets the needs of your restaurant while staying within budget.

Example: “If a supplier was offering a product at a lower price than I could afford, I would first assess the situation to determine if it is an opportunity worth pursuing. If the quality of the product meets my standards and the cost savings are significant enough, then I would consider taking advantage of the offer.

I would also look into other options such as negotiating with the supplier for better terms or finding another vendor that offers similar products at a comparable price. In addition, I would review my current budget and see if there are any areas where I can cut costs in order to make room for this new purchase. Finally, I would consult with my team to ensure that everyone is on board with the decision before making a final commitment.”

8. How well do you understand the local zoning and licensing requirements for running a restaurant?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of the local regulations and requirements for running a restaurant. This can help them determine if you have enough experience to run their business effectively. In your answer, try to explain how you researched these regulations in the past and what steps you would take to ensure compliance with any new regulations that might arise.

Example: “I have a thorough understanding of the local zoning and licensing requirements for running a restaurant. I have worked in the industry for over 10 years, so I am very familiar with all the regulations that need to be adhered to. I also make sure to stay up-to-date on any changes or updates to these laws.

In addition, I have experience working with local government officials to ensure compliance. I understand the importance of having a good relationship with them as it can help streamline the process of obtaining necessary permits and licenses. I’m confident that my knowledge and experience will enable me to successfully navigate the local zoning and licensing requirements for running a restaurant.”

9. Do you have experience managing a budget for a food service establishment?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your experience with managing a budget and how you can help them manage the restaurant’s budget. Use examples from previous experiences where you helped create or maintain a budget for a food service establishment.

Example: “Yes, I have extensive experience managing a budget for a food service establishment. During my time as a restaurant owner, I was responsible for creating and maintaining an annual operating budget that included all expenses related to the business. This included rent, payroll, supplies, marketing, utilities, and more. I worked closely with my team to ensure that our spending stayed within our allocated budget while still providing quality products and services to our customers.

I also implemented cost-saving measures such as negotiating better deals with suppliers and vendors, reducing waste, and utilizing technology to streamline processes. My efforts resulted in significant savings which allowed us to reinvest in other areas of the business. In addition, I regularly monitored financial performance and identified opportunities to increase revenue. All of these experiences make me well-suited for this position.”

10. When is the best time to add or remove items from the menu?

This question can help the interviewer determine your knowledge of menu planning and how you make decisions about what to include on a restaurant’s menu. Use examples from past experiences to explain when you decided to add or remove items, why you made those changes and how they affected sales.

Example: “When it comes to adding or removing items from the menu, timing is key. I believe that the best time to make changes to a restaurant’s menu depends on the type of restaurant and its customer base. For example, if you have a high-end restaurant with an established clientele, then you may want to add new dishes gradually over time so as not to disrupt your customers’ experience. On the other hand, if you’re running a fast-casual restaurant, then you may want to be more aggressive in introducing new items to keep up with changing trends and attract new customers.

No matter what type of restaurant you run, it’s important to stay informed about industry trends and customer feedback. This will help you determine when the right time is to introduce new items or remove existing ones. It’s also essential to test out any potential additions before making them permanent fixtures on the menu. Finally, I always recommend involving staff members in the decision-making process since they are often the closest to the customer and can provide valuable insights.”

11. We want to increase customer engagement on social media. What would you do to achieve this goal?

Social media is a great way to connect with customers and increase engagement. An interviewer may ask this question to see how you would use social media to benefit their restaurant. In your answer, explain what steps you would take to create an effective social media strategy for the business.

Example: “I understand the importance of customer engagement on social media, and I have experience in this area. As a restaurant owner, I know that it is essential to create an engaging presence online. To achieve this goal, I would start by creating content that resonates with my target audience. This could include sharing recipes, photos of dishes, or even behind-the-scenes videos.

In addition, I would use targeted advertising campaigns to reach potential customers. By targeting specific demographics, I can ensure that my message reaches the right people. Finally, I would also take advantage of influencer marketing to increase brand awareness. By partnering with local influencers, I can leverage their following to reach more people.”

12. Describe your process for hiring new staff and training new employees.

As a restaurant owner, you’ll need to hire and train new staff members. Your hiring process should include interviewing candidates, checking references and performing background checks. You can also describe how you would train employees on the job.

Example: “My process for hiring new staff and training new employees is comprehensive and tailored to the needs of each individual restaurant. First, I create a job description that outlines the qualifications, duties, and expectations of the position. Then, I post the job opening on various online platforms and review applications from qualified candidates. During the interview process, I ask questions related to the job requirements and assess the candidate’s skillset and experience. Once I have identified the best fit for the role, I extend an offer and begin onboarding them.

When it comes to training new employees, I believe in providing hands-on instruction and guidance. I start by introducing them to the team and showing them around the restaurant. Then, I provide detailed instructions about their daily tasks and responsibilities. Finally, I give them time to practice and observe experienced staff members so they can learn how to do their job effectively. Throughout this process, I am available to answer any questions or address any concerns they may have.”

13. What makes you stand out from other restaurant owners?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your unique qualities and how they can benefit their business. When you answer, think of a few things that make you stand out from other restaurant owners. You can also mention any skills or experiences that will help you succeed in the role.

Example: “I believe my experience and qualifications make me stand out from other restaurant owners. I have been in the restaurant industry for over 10 years, owning multiple restaurants throughout that time. During this period, I have developed a deep understanding of the complexities of running a successful business.

My passion for the restaurant industry is evident in all aspects of my work. I am constantly looking for ways to improve operations, customer service, and profitability. I also stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the industry, so I can ensure my restaurants are always providing customers with an enjoyable dining experience.

In addition, I have strong financial management skills which enable me to create budgets and manage costs effectively. My ability to analyze data and develop strategies to increase revenue has allowed me to maximize profits while still delivering quality food and service. Finally, I have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, which allow me to build relationships with staff, suppliers, and customers alike.”

14. Which restaurant management software programs are you most comfortable using?

This question is your opportunity to show the interviewer that you have experience using a variety of software programs. You can list several programs and briefly describe how they help you with managing your restaurant.

Example: “I am very comfortable using a variety of restaurant management software programs. I have experience with both cloud-based and desktop solutions, such as Toast POS, Square for Restaurants, and Lightspeed Restaurant.

I have also used other popular systems like Oracle Food and Beverage, Aloha POS, and Micros 3700. These programs allow me to easily manage the day-to-day operations of my restaurants, including inventory tracking, employee scheduling, customer loyalty programs, and more.

In addition, I’m familiar with analytics tools that help me gain insights into customer behavior and sales trends. This helps me make informed decisions about menu changes, promotions, and marketing campaigns.”

15. What do you think is the most important aspect of customer service for restaurant owners?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you understand what it takes to be a successful restaurant owner. Use your answer to highlight your customer service skills and how they can benefit the business.

Example: “I believe that the most important aspect of customer service for restaurant owners is providing a welcoming and enjoyable experience. As a restaurant owner, it’s my responsibility to ensure that customers feel welcome when they enter the establishment and are provided with excellent service throughout their visit. This means creating an inviting atmosphere, offering friendly and knowledgeable staff, and ensuring that all food and beverages are served in a timely manner.

Additionally, I think it’s essential to provide guests with quality products and services. From fresh ingredients to unique menu items, I strive to create a memorable dining experience by delivering dishes that exceed expectations. Furthermore, I take great care to ensure that each guest receives prompt and attentive service from our waitstaff.”

16. How often should you update your menu?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you approach menu design and whether your restaurant’s current menu is effective. Your answer should include a specific time frame for when you update menus, as well as why you choose that timeframe.

Example: “When it comes to updating my menu, I believe in a regular and consistent approach. I like to review the menu every quarter to ensure that I’m staying on top of current trends and customer preferences. This allows me to keep up with changing tastes and make sure that my restaurant is offering the best possible experience for our customers.

I also take into account feedback from my staff and customers when making changes to the menu. This helps me stay in tune with what people are looking for and keeps the menu fresh and exciting. Finally, I use data analysis to track sales and identify items that may need to be added or removed from the menu. By taking all these factors into consideration, I can ensure that my restaurant’s menu remains relevant and appealing.”

17. There is a shift where your servers aren’t selling enough food, but your kitchen is able to produce more than usual. What is your strategy to solve this problem?

This question is a great way to see how you handle conflict and problem-solving. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe the steps you would take to solve the issue and what your end goal is.

Example: “My strategy to solve this problem would be two-fold. First, I would assess the situation and identify any potential causes for why my servers aren’t selling enough food. This could include anything from menu items that are not appealing to customers, to a lack of marketing or promotional strategies. Once I have identified the root cause of the issue, I can begin to develop a plan to address it.

The second part of my strategy is to create an actionable plan to increase sales during this shift. This could involve implementing new promotions, offering discounts, or introducing special menu items. I would also look into ways to incentivize my servers to sell more food, such as providing bonuses or commission structures. Finally, I would ensure that all staff members are trained on how to effectively upsell and cross-sell menu items in order to maximize profits.”

18. How do you handle customer complaints?

As a restaurant owner, you may occasionally receive customer complaints. Interviewers ask this question to learn how you respond to these situations and ensure they’re confident that you can handle them effectively. In your answer, explain what steps you take to resolve the situation and make sure customers leave satisfied.

Example: “I understand that customer complaints are an inevitable part of running a restaurant. I take all customer feedback seriously and strive to provide the best possible experience for each and every guest. When it comes to handling customer complaints, my approach is to listen carefully to their concerns, apologize for any inconvenience they may have experienced, and then work with them to find a solution. I also make sure to document each complaint in order to track trends and improve our processes going forward. Finally, I always follow up with customers after resolving their issue to ensure that they had a positive overall experience.”

19. What strategies would you use to keep labor costs low while still maintaining a high quality of service?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you plan and execute strategies to keep your restaurant profitable. Use examples from past experience that show your ability to manage costs while still providing excellent customer service.

Example: “I understand the importance of keeping labor costs low while still maintaining a high quality of service. My approach to this would be twofold: first, I would focus on training and developing my staff in order to maximize efficiency. This includes teaching them proper techniques for tasks such as food preparation, customer service, and cleaning. By ensuring that all employees are well-trained, I can reduce the amount of time spent on each task, thereby reducing labor costs.

Secondly, I would implement systems and procedures to streamline operations. This could include utilizing technology such as automated ordering systems or scheduling software to help manage employee hours more efficiently. I also believe in regularly evaluating processes to ensure they are up-to-date and efficient. By doing so, I can identify areas where labor costs can be reduced without sacrificing the quality of service.”

20. Describe your experience with creating and managing food safety protocols.

Food safety is a major concern for restaurant owners. The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your experience with food safety and how you manage it in your current or previous restaurants. Use examples from your past experience to highlight your knowledge of food safety protocols, including the importance of following them.

Example: “I have extensive experience creating and managing food safety protocols. I’ve been a restaurant owner for the past five years, during which time I’ve developed comprehensive policies to ensure that all of my staff are following best practices in terms of food safety.

My first priority is always to protect the health and safety of our customers. To do this, I make sure that all of my employees are trained on proper food handling techniques, as well as any relevant local or state regulations. I also conduct regular inspections of the kitchen and dining areas to ensure that everything is up to code. Finally, I regularly review our food safety protocols with my staff to ensure that everyone is aware of their responsibilities.”

21. What type of marketing campaigns have you implemented in the past for new restaurant openings or promotions?

Marketing is an important aspect of running a restaurant. Employers want to know that you have experience with marketing campaigns and can help them promote their business. When answering this question, highlight your creativity and ability to come up with unique ideas for promoting the restaurant.

Example: “I have extensive experience in marketing campaigns for new restaurant openings and promotions. In the past, I have implemented a variety of strategies to ensure that my restaurants are successful.

For example, when opening a new restaurant, I create an online presence through social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This allows me to reach potential customers quickly and efficiently. I also use email campaigns to inform people about upcoming events or specials at the restaurant.

Additionally, I often partner with local businesses to promote our restaurant. For instance, I may collaborate with a nearby hotel to offer discounts to their guests who dine at my restaurant. This helps to increase brand awareness and attract more customers.”

22. Do you prefer working independently or as part of a team?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you might fit into their restaurant’s culture. If they’re looking for someone who works well with others, they may want to know that you enjoy collaboration and teamwork. If they’re looking for someone who prefers to work independently, they may want to know that you’re comfortable making decisions on your own.

Example: “I prefer to work as part of a team. Working in a collaborative environment allows me to leverage the strengths and expertise of my colleagues, while also learning from their experiences. I believe that working together creates an atmosphere of creativity and innovation, which can lead to better results for the restaurant.

At the same time, I understand the importance of being able to take initiative and work independently when needed. As a restaurant owner, it is essential to be able to make decisions quickly and confidently without relying on others. This requires strong problem-solving skills and the ability to think outside the box.”

23. Are you comfortable making difficult decisions when needed without consulting others?

As an owner, you may need to make decisions that are unpopular with some staff members. The interviewer wants to know if you can make these decisions on your own and support them once they’re made. Use examples from previous experience where you’ve had to make a tough decision without input from others.

Example: “Absolutely. I have been a restaurant owner for the past 10 years and understand that there are times when difficult decisions must be made in order to keep the business running smoothly. I am comfortable making these decisions on my own, but also recognize the importance of consulting with others before making any major changes. I believe it is important to get input from all stakeholders involved so that everyone understands why certain decisions were made and can provide feedback if needed. Ultimately, I take responsibility for the decisions I make and ensure that they are in the best interest of the business.”

24. Describe a time where you had to manage multiple tasks at once.

This question can help the interviewer understand how you handle stress and prioritize your tasks. Use examples from previous work experiences to highlight your ability to multitask, communicate with others and manage time effectively.

Example: “I have had many experiences managing multiple tasks at once. One of the most memorable was when I owned my own restaurant. On any given day, I had to manage a variety of tasks from ordering supplies and ingredients, to training staff, to dealing with customer complaints.

To ensure that everything ran smoothly, I developed an organized system for myself. I created a daily checklist of all the tasks that needed to be completed each day. This allowed me to prioritize and keep track of what needed to be done in order to keep the restaurant running efficiently. I also delegated certain tasks to other members of the team so that we could work together to accomplish our goals.”

25. Explain how you would create an atmosphere that encourages repeat customers.

An interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your customer service skills and how you can help their restaurant attract repeat customers. Use examples from previous experiences where you helped create a positive atmosphere for customers that encouraged them to return.

Example: “Creating an atmosphere that encourages repeat customers is a key part of running a successful restaurant. To achieve this, I would focus on providing excellent customer service and creating a memorable experience for each guest.

I believe in building relationships with my customers by getting to know them, understanding their needs, and making sure they feel welcome when they come into the restaurant. This could be done through personalized greetings and conversations, as well as offering special discounts or promotions for loyal customers.

Additionally, I would strive to create a unique dining experience by offering creative menu items, using fresh ingredients, and providing quality food and drinks. I also think it’s important to keep up with trends and offer new dishes regularly so that customers have something to look forward to when they visit. Finally, I would ensure that all staff members are friendly and attentive, so that guests always feel valued and appreciated.”


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