These Are the Psychological Effects of Owning a Restaurant

Posted on June 14, 2017 by Michelle Locke

It’s no secret that owning a restaurant is stressful.

But as we write about employee morale, our CEO, Todd Edman, kept mentioning the same point: being an entrepreneur, starting and running your own business, is no walk in the park. And when it comes to ensuring employee morale is high, that everyone in your restaurant has support, it can be difficult when the main star of the show is suffering.

The pressure to succeed, in any business, can be a monster. According to this article from Inc., 34% of entrepreneurs of all kinds report high levels of anxiety: that’s 4% more than the average worker. Take into account what we’ve recently written, that restaurant workers in general are 10 times more likely to experience depression than other jobs, and it’s a recipe for a disaster.

Combine the pressure and desire to succeed with high stress and the common trait of not taking care of your physical health… and it’s a recipe for disaster for restaurant owners.

This article features an anecdote that we keep going back to: restaurateur Gary Strack cut the fan belt on the exhaust system in his restaurant purely to have a break. He didn’t know how else to escape the demands and pressure of his restaurant, so a temporary setback that required closing the restaurant seemed like the perfect solution.

We don’t have to tell you that this is not normal. The website Chefs with Issues is dedicated towards sharing stories about the pressure of working in the restaurant industry—not just chefs, but everyone. If you want to find stories of other restaurant industry professionals and how they deal with the pressure, it’s a great resources. And it underscores the reality that owning a restaurant has serious psychological effects.

What can restaurant owners do to ensure they stay healthy and don’t suffer negative effects of owning a restaurant? Here are a few ideas.

  • Take care of your physical health. Eat regularly, get enough sleep, and visit your primary care physician. For entrepreneurs, taking an hour out of their day to go to the doctor or dentist, or to eat a real lunch, can feel like just too much. But it’s ok to take the time and walk away.
  • Take care of your mental health. If you’re lying awake at night (you know, those few hours you let yourself leave your restaurant) worrying about what’s happening at your restaurant… it’s time to speak to someone. The website Psychology Today is a great place to search for a counselor who can help you work through your stress.
  • Delegate tasks as much as possible. Don’t hesitate to hand off tasks to employees you trust: managers, great servers, prep cooks, and more can handle tasks like inventory, pre-shift meetings, and more. You don’t have to do everything yourself.
  • Take a break. We’re serious: don’t work 7 days a week, 15 hours a day. Give yourself a day off. You know what? Give yourself two WHOLE days off. In a row. Sleep in. Drink some morning coffee. Watch your favorite TV show. Don’t think about your restaurant.