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Book Gift Ideas for Restaurant Owners, Managers and Other Food Service Professionals for 2022


Update: This post was first published in 2021, but of course books are evergreen, so the advice given here still applies.

If you’re giving gifts this Christmas and into the New Year 2023 to a restaurant owner, manager, or other food service professional, these books below will make a huge impact in their businesses. Black Friday 2022 is already here, so if you're buying stuff on Amazon, remember that they are the biggest online bookshop!

The food industry has had a tough time since the COVID pandemic began, what with the lockdowns and the food delivery apps stealing the show.

According to this BBC Business Daily report, the food delivery apps, who have not been turning a profit, now look poised to start claiming market share (with an eye on the dough, err, the cash sorry) – and apparently since COVID began they enjoy a cozier relationship with the customers than the restaurants!

The books in this list have been selected because they will arm any restaurant owner or manager with the biggest trump card they have going for them, namely superior service and the eating out experience that customers have missed all through COVID, which the apps currently cannot provide.

One of the biggest lessons we learned during the COVID pandemic was that it is simple pleasures like dining out with family, or going out to lunch at an outdoor restaurant with friends or colleagues, that this is what attracts us to the cities in the first place.

Before COVID studies were showing that people had come to expect poor service from restaurants, food service businesses, and most other businesses. Post pandemic, restaurant goers are likely going to be very choosy – and less tolerant of poor service.

And high time too!

How to Win Friends and Influence People

You can turn any business’ fortunes around with superior customer service. Restaurants, catering services, pizza takeouts, etc. are no different. Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People offers a lot of tips and techniques that are fundamental to delivering exceptional service in restaurant businesses.

Things like, “An Easy Way to Become a Good Conversationalist” or “How to Interest People” or “How to Make People Like You Instantly” or “The Safety Valve in Handling Complaints” and “Handle complaints, avoid arguments, keep your human contacts smooth and pleasant.”

One of the major causes of complaints regarding poor service in a restaurant is the attitudes and behavior of the employees. So, chapters such as “How to Get Co-operation” and “If You Must Find Fault, This Is the Way to Begin” and “How to Criticize – and Not Be Hated for It” or “Make the Fault Seem Easy to Correct” will equip the restaurant owner or manager the tools to become a good negotiator, and a very effective foreman for their workforce.

Carnegie’s old classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People can’t be recommended enough as a must read for anyone in the restaurant business.


The Surprise Restaurant Manager

Many restaurant managers become managers by rising through the ranks, so that many end up in that position with minimal training. Then they find they have a ton of responsibilities, and no clue how to improve.

Ken McGarrie, the author of The Surprise Restaurant Manager, is a restaurant operator who has helped launch dozens of successful restaurants and he can give the restaurant owner or manager insights that will empower them to master the unexpected challenges they face every day in the restaurant business.

Insights and real-life examples on things like how to hire the perfect employees you can gel with in the workplace, how to support your staff during challenging situations, and how to develop more effective hospitality skills in your workforce, how to acquire the magic “table touch,” how to salvage every negative guest experience, and also how to manage online reviews, which are a major source of frustration in the restaurant business, and so much more.

A major challenge restaurant owners and managers face is the stress that comes with the workload, the sometimes unfair criticisms they receive, and all sorts of other job pressures.

McGarrie’s book, The Surprise Restaurant Manager shows the restaurant owner or manager how to embrace blunt criticism, how to work effectively with strong personalities, and how to avoid professional burnout.

Highly recommended for a book gift to your food service business customers or a friend in the restaurant business.

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Setting the Table

According to Danny Meyer, author of Setting the Table, “seventy-five percent of all new restaurant ventures fail, and of those that do stick around, only a few become icons.”

He started a restaurant at the age of 27 and today he owns a restaurant empire, so, he’s someone who can teach restaurant owners and managers a thing or two.

Meyer preaches a philosophy he has developed that he calls Enlightened Hospitality that helps the restaurant owner or manager build strong in-house relationships and customer satisfaction into the business culture.

This then creates an atmosphere where the customers get extremely pleased with their experience they come to feel they are part of the family that they keep coming back.

It also creates an atmosphere where the employees work in a favorable environment where they they’re respected and enjoy coming to work every single day.

Danny writes:

"It always feels wonderful to earn a rave from guests, and not just for the way we’ve nourished them. Over the years, the most consistent compliment we’ve received and the one I am always proudest to hear, is 'I love your restaurants and the food is fantastic. But what I really love is how great your people are.'" ~ Danny Meyer in Setting the Table.

Danny teaches the restaurant manager how to become a good leader so that they can foster what he has called enlightened hospitality.

Another quote:

" For us, the secret of the game is anticipating mistakes, harnessing them, and addressing them in constructive ways so that we end up in a better spot than if we had never made them in the first place."

A lot of the time a restaurant's reputation dies not from the food getting bad, but the service and the way that dissatisfied customers are handled. Danny Meyer give the restaurant manager or own insights on how to hire the right people for the job. He writes:

"It may seem implicit in the philosophy of enlightened hospitality that the employee is constantly setting aside personal needs and selflessly taking care of others. But the real secret of its success is to hire people to whom caring for others is, in fact, a selfish act. I call these people hospitalitarians. A special type of personality thrives on providing hospitality, and it’s crucial to our success that we attract people who possess it. Their source of energy is rarely depleted."

An iconic bestseller, Meyer’s Setting the Table will help restaurant owners and other food service professionals become more effective and productive, while deepening their understanding and appreciation of a job well done.

That’s what we all want, owners and restaurant goers alike!

For us, the secret of the game is anticipating mistakes, harnessing them, and addressing them in constructive ways so that we end up in a better spot than if we had never made them in the fi rst place.


The Restaurant Manager’s Handbook

This book is pricey, but a great reference for industry professionals. The Restaurant Manager's Handbook: How to Set Up, Operate, and Manage a Financially Successful Food Service Operation is billed as “the best-selling book on running a successful food service operation.”

It certainly covers a lot of ground, including, case studies from industry professionals on restaurant branding, franchising, effective layout and remodeling, cost-effective menu planning, food sourcing options, food safety and how to manage online feedback, as well as giving innovative ways how to promote your restaurant on the web.

The book is structured for easy reading, with lots of fun facts sprinkled throughout the book to interest and engage the reader through the content-heavy sections.

Restaurant marketing is very competitive, but it is also an area that has enjoyed a lot of interest from technology and mobile apps developers. The handbook is regularly updated, now in its fifth edition, and its written by food service industry technology insider, so you're sure to get the latest on the technology side of restaurant marketing.


This post-COVID holiday season 2021 is going to be a great time for a viral do-good conspiracy – pan intended! Let’s launch a conspiracy to bring exceptional customer service back on the menu in our restaurants, diners, cafés, pizza joints, and wherever we like eating out.

These book gift ideas above for restaurant owners and managers are a perfectly timely addition you can make to their reading list for next year.

So, if your business sells services or products to food industry businesses, or you simply have a friend, a relative or a colleague in these businesses, join the conspiracy this Christmas and New Year. Give a book gift to them from the ideas above.

This could be the best gift you give them this year to help them survive in business against the threat they have from the food delivery apps, and a world changed probably for decades to come by the COVID crisis!

Thinking of giving book gifts to service professionals? Follow the link below for a post on book gift ideas for service professionals.

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