3 answers

In order to own a restaurant do I need to earn a degree in hospitality management?

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3 answers

Rob’s Answer

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You do not need a hospitality degree to own your own restaurant. I worked in restaurants for years
and many people i encountered didn't have a hospitality degree. My in-laws also owned a successful
restaurant for years without a degree. But you will certainly need to educate yourself in what it takes
to work in a restaurant and to run one. If you haven't already started working in restaurants, I would
advise you do that, and try to work in multiple areas - cooking, waiting tables, running the counter, and
eventually becoming a manager. You can use these jobs to observe what it takes to keep customers
happy (the absolute most important thing to a business owner), understand the complexity of managing
a kitchen, prepping and cooking food, working with foodservice and beverage suppliers, etc. You can
really bolster this experience by taking culinary courses, food sanitation courses and bartending
courses, and by learning about exposure techniques such as advertising, social media, promotions/loyalty
programs, and catering/event participation, etc., to draw new customers and help retain the ones you
already have.

Although you don't need a hospitality degree to own a restaurant, I don't want to discourage you from
seeking such a degree. Running a restaurant is a lot of hard work and businesses can fail. A hospitality or
culinary school degree can give you alternate career paths in case you ultimately decide restaurant
management isn't something you want to stick with, or you would rather explore related careers such
as local/regional/corporate management for a restaurant chain, or running the food operations at a resort.
It is never a bad idea to consider educational opportunities which will help you with your career aspirations
or provide you more career options. Good luck and get to work! :)
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Mark’s Answer

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While I am not in the restaurant business personally I do know many people who are. While a degree would likely be beneficial to you and would give you a competitive edge, it is certainly not necessary to have one. In fact, the majority of people that I do know in this profession do not have any degree of this type and they are very successful.

With that being said, experience and knowledge are paramount to success and so you should absolutely work hard in the industry for different existing owners to learn as much as you possibly can before becoming an actual owner yourself. The industry typically seems much easier than it actually is from my understanding. There are so many elements and nuances that you are responsible for as a restaurant owner, the knowledge and experience is extremely important across the board.

Mark recommends the following next steps:

  • Gain employment at a busy restaurant (or several) if you have not done so already
  • Seek a successful and an unsuccessful restaurant owner and have meaningful discussion with them on their successes and failures
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Daniel’s Answer

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The simple answer is no. But, will a degree lay a foundation for you to build upon? Absolutely! An undergrad in business will give you the proper techniques, ideas, and skills other successful entrepreneurs and business owner have done. While also having a degree does not mean your business will be successful it can assist you to further your goals. Several CEO's have created successful companies and did not have a degree. Good luck!

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