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Hard work is a must for longtime survival says Gino Ferraro Ferraro's Restaurant
<p>Hard work is a must for long-time survival, says Gino Ferraro.</p>

8 tips from long-time restaurant operators

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With a hefty 60 percent of restaurants failing within the first year, the goal for many is to just make it past 365 days. However, once you clear the one-year mark, how do you make it 5 years, 10 years and longer? We spoke with a four owners who have survived more than 25 years to find out what it really takes to be a restaurant survivor.

1. Be ready to work—a lot

“Don't be afraid to work long, long hours,” says Gino Ferraro, owner of Ferraro's Restaurant in Las Vegas. “After 31 years, I still come to work almost every day. If I wasn't here all the time, we probably wouldn't have survived 31 years.” 


2. Be committed

“Commitment is extremely important in the restaurant business. If you don't feel like you can be committed every single day, then you won't last one day, much less 25 years,” says Don Bosko, franchisee of Beef ’O’ Brady’s in Lakeland, Florida, since 1991. “Since the day I started, we’ve held brief daily staff meetings where we go over what we want to achieve that day."

3. Treat your staff like family

“There’s no way you can have longevity without a great staff; we have people who have been with us for 30-plus years,” says Les Barnes, who took over operations at London Lennie’s in Queens, New York, in 1977 (the restaurant has been in business since 1959). “Treat your staff like family, be concerned about their life outside of work, be understanding of their needs and the needs of the restaurant. Teach them and consistently retrain them over the years; when they learn something new, they stay excited about coming to work. I say hello to all of my staff when I enter the restaurant; shaking their hands when they come to work shows them they are respected and appreciated.”

4. Stay relevant

“Having been at this since 1967, many guests return for classic and traditional dishes. We are equally focused on executing these classic dishes, while also pushing our cuisine forward,” says Alex Brennan-Martin, proprietor of Brennan’s of Houston in Houston. “We’re not a nitrogen or foamy place, but we’re always staying on the leading edge of techniques and trends—never fads.”

5. Promote positivity

“When I first got into this business, I had a shorter fuse, but I knew that I couldn't have a short fuse in the restaurant environment—I had to be the eyes of the customer,” says Bosko. “Every day, you will run into issues, but you need to be able to handle them without getting mad and by maintaining a positive attitude.”

6. Be consistent

“We cannot be all things to all people. Every restaurant has its own market to attract. Know your market and give them the food quality and service they deserve,” says Barnes. “Every item on the menu should be prepared the same way, every time. The entire dining room staff must approach the table the same way, and hostesses must answer the phone the same way. No one likes surprises.”

7. Be a part of your community

“I always tell people about the importance of giving back and the reward you'll enjoy when you become a partner with those in the area you serve,” says Bosko. “We do so much in the community with the help of our community partners, including helping the elderly, Christmas toy drives and a large variety of school activities.”

8. Don’t fear change

“When I took over the operation in 1977, it was tired and rundown. The first thing I did was spruce up the entire place. A few years later, it was a new dining room with a small bar, and a few years later it was a totally new and expanded dining room, bar and kitchen,” says Barnes. “Don’t be afraid to change and grow; the customers and staff love to see that you are keeping the place up to date. Although we are still serving some items that my dad served back in 1959, adding new food items and preparations keeps the menu from becoming stale.”

TAGS: Management
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