Does your restaurant have what it takes to thrive, or will it be just a flash in the pan? With this advice from ICE’s industry experts in American Express’s four-part Restaurant Success Series, learn how proper employee training and responding to customer feedback can help build a stable, profitable business. Plus, understand how to create a cost-effective menu that sells and discover how getting your manager out of the office and onto the sales floor can give you a leg up in this competitive industry.

For more tips on staying ahead of the curve, we consulted with ICE Culinary Management Instructor Vin McCann. Below, see his 7-step strategy for developing a marketable product and building customer loyalty:

  1. Research: Learn about your market—for example, are there already restaurants like your concept (potential competitors) nearby?
  2. Concept: Differentiate yourself in the market by developing a unique product.
  3. Strategy: Develop a business plan, taking into account costs, product, design and more.
  4. Funding: Raise at least 30% more money than you think you’ll need.
  5. Train: Your staff is the primary factor in whether or not new clients become regulars. Ensure they understand and can execute your vision through thorough training.
  6. Guests: They are your indicators of success, so take their feedback seriously.
  7. Observe: Monitor your costs, profits and losses and adjust as needed.

Learn more about the logistics, design and execution of restaurant success at ICE’s School of Culinary Management.


Cutting corners may seem easy and fast, but could you end up losing money in the long term? Join ICE Dean of Business and Management Studies, Steve Zagor, and American Express to determine your signature recipe for restaurant profits. Discover the number one thing you need to know to make money in the restaurant business, and learn how seemingly unimportant details—including the attire of your staff or the design of your flatware—can boost or hinder sales.

To further maximize your restaurant’s gains, we asked Zagor—a seasoned consultant and restaurateur— to highlight a few of his top tips for financial success in the competitive food industry:

  1. Gross Food Cost is how much you spend on all ingredients, divided by the total sales (not including sales tax). That resulting percentage is your main concern—it not only includes the menu item food costs, but any other food expenses (employee meals, complementary and discount dining, waste, etc.).
  1. The essential foundation for determining your Gross Food Cost is to perform an accurate food inventory on a regular weekly or monthly basis.
  1. When determining menu prices, it’s important to use the latest food cost information. To truly understand your food cost target, every item—even “complimentary” elements like french fries, bread and condiments—must be accounted for and included.

Ready to kick your culinary success into high gear? Train for excellence at ICE’s School of Culinary Management.