Restaurants need more than mom's recipes to thrive

EHL Editorial Team | 6 Apr, 2016

According to GastroSuisse, 1/3 of restaurants change ownership every year and the majority report a financial loss. Restaurant failure can be contributed to a wide variety of factors, and although some of these are not in a business owner’s control, other potential risks can be mitigated with a thorough understanding of the industry and proper planning.

In fact, being a Food Entrepreneur is neither all about the food nor all about the entrepreneur. Rather, it is a perfect equilibrium that requires industry and technical knowledge, practical experience, managerial skills, and a professional network. While these skills and relationships can be difficult to develop, each element combines to set up an entrepreneur for the best possible outcome, and therefore attention to all sides is essential. 



Possessing knowledge and experience of a targeted industry is critical for an entrepreneur entering into any new business venture, but this is especially the case in the food and beverage industry. Having familiarity with the ins and outs of restaurant operations, menu and concept planning, staffing, and finances is not enough. An in-depth understanding of how the multiple moving parts fit together could be the differentiating factor that pushes a restaurant to success. 

“To succeed, entrepreneurs require an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the business, from concept to realization.” - Fabien Fresnel, Chief Academic Officer at EHL

Through the Master Class in Culinary Arts at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), students work both in kitchen and service allowing them to obtain a well-rounded view of operations. Developing, executing, and experiencing the multiple concepts provides them also an understanding of the various challenges in a food and beverage environment. Additionally, students will enjoy related business field trips to various restaurants where they will familiarize themselves with the industry.



Practical skills should not be underestimated. Being trained in different areas of food and beverage operations, knowing the requirements of each department and being aware of potential challenges allows managers to more accurately plan and prepare. Armed with academic and practical knowledge as well as emotional intelligence, managers can direct efficiently the business of restaurant operations.

“I believe that a Food and Beverage project needs to be built around a passion for Culinary Arts and the desire to create a perfect experience for customers. From choosing the right product to sublimating it, the mastery of all these processes is what drives a restaurant toward excellence.” - Chef Philippe Gobet, Meilleur Ouvrier de France & Senior Lecturer EHL Master Class in Culinary Arts program

EHL employs many Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, meaning students will learn techniques from world class chefs in top facilities. Senior Lecturers directing service and banqueting are industry professionals who pull from their knowledge and years of experience in the field to challenge students and equip them with the insight and skills needed to succeed.



Practical skills, while insightful, are not enough to ensure success of a restaurant. Education regarding business practices, financing, and marketing are equally imperative. Restaurants can shutter for a plethora of reasons, not least of which is due to inexperience or a lack of knowledge in key areas of the business. Entrepreneurs are not expected to be fluent in all areas, but a basic knowledge of other subject areas can provide a wealth of insights when choosing who to partner with.

“The banks and lenders’ misconception of restaurants being higher risk than other businesses perpetuates a Catch-22 for food entrepreneurs. In my experience, understanding the many aspects of food and beverage operations, enables entrepreneurs to properly structure their business plan which not only helps in the management of the establishment itself but also in securing financial relationships.” - William Pacalet, EHL Associate Dean for Practical Arts

Practical coursework is balanced with time in the classroom at EHL. Arming students with the necessary knowledge in key subject areas ensures that entrepreneurs have both the information as well as the resources they need at their disposal in order to most successfully start a new venture.



The power of networks can also become apparent, especially for entrepreneurs, who must find business partners, investors, employees, or supporters. Building a network can be challenging, especially if entrepreneurs are new to an industry or market. Having the right people to reach out to for advice, guidance, or support, cannot be overemphasized. In the hospitality industry, relationships can sometimes take people further than skills or knowledge. Actively developing and maintaining relationships is therefore an important business skill.

“Building and retaining a team that respects all sides of the business and is invested in its success can make or break a project.” - Chef Philippe Gobet, Meilleur Ouvrier de France & Senior Lecturer EHL Master Class in Culinary Arts program

The renowned EHL network counts alumni in a multitude of sectors, worldwide. Whether students are looking for fellow entrepreneurs, associates in food and beverage, or professionals in the hospitality or other industries, they will have the opportunity to join a supportive and enthusiastic alumni network, which counts entrepreneurs, professionals, leaders and influencers as its members.


While opening a restaurant can be a challenging venture, equipping oneself with the proper knowledge, skills, and network can make a difference between a successful restaurant and a flop. EHL is committed to arming students with the support they need to succeed in this fast-paced industry and embrace their culinary passion.

From professional training in world class facilities to education from top-of-their-field professors and Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, to experiencing all sides of the industry, the Master Class in Culinary Arts program provides students with a well-rounded education in the world of Food and Beverage.

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