What to Study If You Want to Open a Restaurant

It’s your dream to someday operate a restaurant of your very own. You’re aware of the high failure rate of restaurants, which is why you want to do it right. You’ll take the time you need to obtain an education in restaurant ownership and management. Exactly what should you study?

If you want to open a restaurant, here are some areas to study:

  • Hospitality
  • Restaurant management
  • Business
  • Marketing
  • Accounting

In this detailed guide, we’ll explain why studying each of the above subjects will propel you towards restaurant ownership success. Make sure you keep reading!

Want to Open a Restaurant? Study These 5 Areas

Although it seems like attending culinary school is the path to restaurant ownership, graduating from a culinary school just proves that you can cook and bake, not that you can run your own establishment. Instead, you need to prioritize different subjects.

It’s not required for you to have a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in each of the following areas; one degree suffices and two are great. You should at least fill your college course load with classes in these topics.


If there’s one topic on this list to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree in, hospitality would be at the top of the list. 

The field of hospitality encompasses hotels, bars, and restaurants. The industry is all about serving people, which is one of the most valuable skills you can hope to learn as a future restaurateur. 

You’ll glean the importance of interpersonal skills and problem-solving as you study hospitality. For instance, if an ornery customer gets in a verbal argument with one of your waiters, you can jump right in and diffuse the situation. 

Studying hospitality might also touch on other subject areas that we recommend you learn, including marketing and accounting. You’ll delve deep into topics such as the ethics of management, human resource management, employment laws, and analytics. 

Depending on where you study hospitality, you’re sometimes tasked with traveling the world and completing a residency over a semester or longer. The firsthand experience you’ll gain here will pay back dividends in making you a more efficient hospitality leader later.

Restaurant Management

The second area to prioritize in your quest to someday own a restaurant is appropriately restaurant management. At some colleges and universities, this area of study is referred to as hospitality management, but the topics covered should be the same. The field is also known as culinary management.

If you pursue restaurant management to earn a degree, you can select from a two-year or four-year program. During your time studying this exciting field, you’ll become acquainted with food preparation and planning.

A degree or background in restaurant management will also educate you in topics such as computer science and business management. You’ll become masterful in restaurant sanitation and nutrition as well. 

Some of these are topics you’d learn about in a culinary school, but the application of your education would be towards restaurant management. 

By the time you’re done studying restaurant management, you’ll feel confident compiling a menu for your restaurant. The menu would include balanced and nutritious meals. You’d also be able to detect any sanitation red flags.

That’s important not only for customer service but for the life of your restaurant as well. If a public health professional comes to your restaurant and deems it unsanitary, your restaurant could be in hot water.

Failing a health inspection can lead to fines and even shutdowns until you make the necessary changes.


A business degree can supercharge your path to restaurant ownership, as you’ll learn so many valuable concepts and topics that you’ll be readier to handle the responsibility of your own restaurant. 

You could take your career in nearly a dozen directions theoretically, as a business degree is applicable in such industries as logistics, human resources, information technology, finance/accounting, and more. If your restaurant failed, you’d at least have a backup plan! 

The range of skills you will glean on your way to earning a business degree is immense. Here’s a full list for your perusal:

  • Work/life balance: Yes, even as an entrepreneur, you can’t work, work, work 24/7. We people are just not built to sustain that kind of lifestyle. You’ll learn how to strike a work/life balance during your studies so you can be of better use in your restaurant.
  • Teamwork: You might own the restaurant, but you can’t oversee all its operations alone. Your business education will teach you how to assemble and work on teams. 
  • Time management: Everyone is afforded 24 hours each day. It’s how you use those hours that’s important. As a restaurant owner, your work moves quickly, so time management skills are of the essence.
  • Data reporting: You’ll produce your own reports in areas such as ROI, food ingredient pricing, and menu item popularity. You’ll also have others on your team generate analytical reports for you. You must be able to read and comprehend these reports to take actionable steps that will push your restaurant further along.
  • Strategizing: What’s your plan for your restaurant six months from now? How about a year from now or three years? Maybe 10 years down the line? Once you learn how to strategize as part of your business education, answering these questions will be easy.
  • People management: We touched on this before, but you run a diverse team as part of your restaurant. You must be able to assign the right parties to various roles as well as oversee the decision-making that fuels your restaurant’s operations.
  • Ethics: What’s right and what’s wrong? Sometimes gray areas pop up that can cause ethical conundrums. That’s why you’ll learn how to navigate these ethics issues as part of your business education.
  • Decision-making: Can you make snap decisions? More importantly, are they the right decisions? If you need guidance in this crucial area of restaurant management, you’ll be able to brush up on it while obtaining your business degree.


According to stats from SmallBizGenius, the United States had 13,251 new restaurants open in 2018. Although the pandemic likely influenced restaurant openings in the early 2020s, with the world back on the upswing, that number is only likely to increase in the years ahead.

What this means is that if your restaurant doesn’t stand out, it will shut down sooner than later, more than likely within its first year. 

That’s where marketing comes in. As you study marketing on your way to becoming a restaurant owner, you’ll be equipped with all the skills you need to successfully promote your restaurant to the masses.

Here are some such skills you’ll pick up:

  • Marketing strategy: What is your strategy to take your restaurant to the top? After your schooling, you’ll be able to present viable tactics that will work to draw in new customers and retain your current audience.
  • Public relations: Marketing and PR go hand in hand. You’ll become masterful in the significance of one in relation to the other.
  • Consumer behavior: What inspires a customer to choose one restaurant over another? No longer will you be mystified by questions like these once you understand the innate needs and desires that drive consumer behavior.
  • Communications: In marketing, how you communicate with your audience is integral. If you use the wrong communication strategy or if your message is muddy, then your marketing campaign will fail. You’ll learn to sharpen your communications for more effective interactions.
  • Advertising: Advertising is how you promote your restaurant. With so many ad options available today, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You’ll learn about all your advertising avenues so you can select the most appropriate ones at various times.


If you have high hopes of running a fruitful restaurant, you must have money management skills. Otherwise, you’ll overspend in many areas, from food ingredient acquisition to new equipment and employee training.

Plan to study accounting to fill in the gaps in your financial knowledge. Whether you become an accounting major or take a few accounting courses on the side, you’ll have a well-tuned financial compass that will serve your restaurant well.

Such topics that will be covered in accounting coursework include managing accounts, financial reporting, taxation, budgeting, and understanding financial statements.


To make your dreams of restaurant ownership a reality, you must be well-versed in a multitude of topics. Hospitality and business degrees can create the foundation to build your restaurant empire. We also recommend taking classes in restaurant management, marketing, and accounting. Best of luck!

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