From greeting guests upon entry to adding the final garnish, there are countless steps behind the scenes before delivering the perfect dish to each customer. Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat of 2023 know this all too well. We spoke to some of the winners and gathered their best business advice and words of inspiration for both restaurateurs and small business owners alike.
Stay positive despite the inevitable obstacles
“Always have a good attitude. No matter how hard things get, if you keep trying hard and working hard, I believe that things will eventually work out and things are going to happen the way they’re supposed to. My hard work ethic comes from my parents. My family all immigrated to the States, and all I’ve seen is hard work from them. They’ve all worked seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
– Tim Lee, Broken Mouth (Los Angeles); ranked #1
Bonus: Read more about Tim’s entrepreneurial journey to the number one spot of the Top 100 list.
Uncover the strengths of both you and your team
“My strength as an owner is being resourceful and finding the right people to do their best job—to be good at what they’re already good at. You know, I’m not good at nutrition, but I understand a bit of it. And I was able to find someone who loved our concept and is a certified nutritionist from Berkeley. She’s my soon-to-be partner. She’s my right hand. I am good at the business owner structure, and she’s good at everything operations and everything nutrition related, and she’s added so much value to our business.”
– Tani Ahmed, Sunbliss Cafe (Anaheim, California); ranked #6
Prioritize making your customers feel welcome
“We greet everybody. Our language is Arabic, so we will either welcome you in Arabic or English, of course. As soon as they walk in and up to the counter, they get a free, hot sample of the falafel. We serve a lot of different mixed races because we’re vegan, we’re vegetarian, and the meat that we do offer, the chicken, is halal. So we definitely offer so many options to everyone out there.”
– Suzie Othman, Sababa Falafel Shop (Garden Grove, California); ranked #10
Take critical reviews as a learning opportunity
“As chefs, we always like to say that we welcome constructive criticism, that we welcome feedback, even if it’s not good because that’s how we learn and we get better. Well, if you really believe that, then you need to embrace stuff like Yelp [reviews], which really are almost a little bit of a behind-the-scenes [look at] what your guest is thinking that they might not have told to your face. That’s huge. That’s almost invaluable.”
– Justin Werner, Trust (Santa Ana, California); ranked #18
Lean into your community with support
“Not only are we servicing and selling to the community, but any immigrants that came over to visit or that moved here would always stop at Pitaland. My parents have helped so many people over the years, sending them to school, recommending the library, or helping them by employing them temporarily. Pitaland has been the hub for so many international students and immigrants that have come from the Middle East because they’re looking for a place to buy bread and Middle Eastern food.”
– Aleen Atencio, Pitaland (Pittsburgh); ranked #96
Encourage other small businesses around you
“In the restaurant business, you always work together. Restaurants are a tough business, and you can always cry on each other’s shoulder. And when you cry, people understand. So every time people open a new space, they say, ‘Hey, can you help me?’ [and] everybody goes, even just to help.”
– Richard Chan, Adela’s Country Eatery (Kaneohe, Hawaii); ranked #5
Learn more about these restaurants and more in Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat of 2023.
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The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.