Common Restaurant Myths

Guaranteed Failure: The Biggest Restaurant Myth

If you own a restaurant or are planning on starting one, you have probably been told this MYTH a million times: "Ninety to ninety-five percent of new restaurants fail during the first year."

While this particularly nasty little restaurant myth has been making the rounds since the first time the Julius Caesar ordered carryout (okay, maybe not that long), it’s been a while since anyone did a study on these statistics. When Ohio State University actually did a longitudinal study on this issue between 1996 and 1999, they found that 67 to 81% of restaurants closed sometime during the first two years. The cream will rise to the top and the rest, well, you know.

restaurant mythThat means that nearly 20% of restaurants survived those treacherous early years. Why does debunking this restaurant myth make so much difference? Because we program ourselves to do what we believe.

Personally, I don't think most of those statistics add up. I think many current restaurant owners keep this myth alive (and bump up the numbers) to stop potential restaurateurs from becoming their future competition. I wrote another article about that here.

If we believe we’re going to fail, we will. If we believe we can succeed, we will usually do that, too.

Far too many restaurant owners believe the failed restaurant myth hype and stoically accept market declines when they should be revising their menus, taking a serious look at their décor and their atmosphere, and beating the bushes for more business.

As a restaurant owner, don’t be fooled into thinking that success is 80-20 proposition and that your fate lies in the stars. While the odds still aren’t in your favor, they’re probably much better than you ever suspected. So if your new restaurant is struggling, forget about the failed restaurant myth and “fight” to turn things around.

There’s AT LEAST 19% chance I’ll still be coming in your doors to eat two years from now.

And a little insider knowledge could help you avoid the other restaurant myths and start a restaurant the smart way!