Top 10 Strategies for Opening a Restaurant With Your Spouse


These days, it seems every young couple from Brooklyn to Bolivia dreams of quitting their day job and opening at cute little restaurant with their significant o. But as anyone who has done so will tell you, it can end up feeling less like a culinary honeymoon than a fast-track to divorce court. Guest blogger Megan Sullivan joins ES to share these top 10 tips for opening a restaurant with your spouse and not driving each other insane.

It’s common knowledge that a partnership is a lot like a marriage, but what if it is a marriage? Your business partner can be your other half, but there are some things you may want to consider. If you’re dreaming of running a restaurant with your spouse, follow this handy guide to make sure you meet your goals without destroying your relationship.

1. Put your partnership in writing. Just because you’re in love, doesn’t mean you’re going to love working with your significant other. Draft a very clear partnership agreement.

2. Bill$ Bill$ Bill$. It’s important to work effectively together. Make a business plan and learn to save money together.

3. Someone has to be in charge. You need to decide who is in charge of what. Divvy up jobs and respect the other person’s position in the restaurant. For instance, if you’re better at dealing with people and your partner is an excellent chef, you can manage the floor while he manages the kitchen staff and food.

4. It is important to compromise on financial issues. All new businesses need start-up cash. While both partners are welcome to earn money for the business, one person may disagree with how that money is spent. In the beginning, you might need to compromise with things like start-up loans, grants and credit cards. Look online together for things like business credit cards rewards programs so you can earn rewards for when you spend.

5. Research your write-offs. Even if you’ve never filed taxes together, your mutual business will require you to file together. The IRS website explains what business expenses can be deducted, to ensure you’re not overspending on tax money. It’s important to agree on these matters, because if you can’t, you may not want to partner up for a restaurant.

6. Different values result in conflict. Business Coach Brad Sugars explains, “If your goals and values are different, then the business will not survive and you and your partner will differ on too many decisions.” If your partner is your husband or wife, it may be easy to reconcile these differences. Then again, it may actually be more difficult. It’s important to have your values worked out before you enter into anything permanent.

7. Agree on a menu. You may want to serve traditional American dishes, while your spouse wants to serve Asian Fusion. You must agree on a menu that makes sense. Try compromising on other things first. For instance, you’ll probably both agree that fresh ingredients are best. Once you’re used to a small amount of compromise, you may be more willing to bend on the larger ones.

8. Some things you just won’t agree on. In any business partnership, even a marriage, conflict is going to arise. You’re going to need to talk to your partner about dealing with conflict, before your restaurant opens. Work on a plan to effectively resolve conflict.

Important: When a conflict arises at work, it’s important that both partners agree to never bring up personal/at-home conflicts. Business and home life should not mix.

9. Service style is almost as important as the menu. You and your partner will want to agree on how food is served. You could do casual dining or something more up-scale.

10. Don’t ever let your restaurant destroy your marriage. If your business fails, your marriage shouldn’t. No matter what happens in your restaurant, your marriage should be able to survive. Make sure you’re in a good place before moving forward with this dream.

(Photo: NWongPR)

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  • Renee-hungry monster July 26, 2013  

    Awesome advice! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • ML July 26, 2013  

    1-8 sound just like the rules to marriage….

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