Here Are the 7 Traits You Need to Get Rich in the Restaurant Industry A restaurant job isn't always just a stepping stone — it could be your path to the 1%.

By Dan Rowe

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Working in a restaurant has historically been viewed as a stepping stone. Young people get jobs as servers or bartenders while they're in school and then leave the industry to do something else they think will make them rich. However, what many people don't realize is that the restaurant industry is one of the easiest fields for anyone to become extremely wealthy.

No matter where you start in the restaurant industry, you can become a millionaire or more. The individuals who achieve great wealth in the restaurant business share many common traits. Do you have what it takes?

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Everyone who started at the bottom in the restaurant industry had the tenacity and grit to stick with it, learn, grow and move forward. They knew that the entry-level job wasn't forever, so they did it well and moved up.

Fabio Viviani started working at restaurants at the age of 11 in Italy to support his family. Fast-forward 25 years and the Top Chef alum is living the American dream running a successful hospitality company. Viviani parlayed his early experiences into roles as an executive chef, restaurant owner and franchisee who is helping others get rich in the restaurant industry.

"No matter who you are or where you come from, what matters is how much you want it," he says. "I wanted it very badly. Having discipline is great, but having constant discipline is what got me where I am today."


If you can't see your dream, you'll never achieve it. The individuals who get ultra-wealthy in the restaurant industry envision themselves as who they want to be. They don't think, I'm just a waiter. Instead, they picture themselves as the executive chef or the restaurant owner.

Highly successful individuals in all types of careers use the power of visualization. Studies show that people who imagine themselves in the life they want are more likely to achieve it. To flex your visualization muscle, create a vision board or use an app like EnVision.

Related: Food Network Star Geoffrey Zakarian Distills the Hospitality Industry Down Into Just 48 Words


No matter what industry you're in, if you don't love it, you're not going to get rich. If you're passionate about people and feeding them, then the sky's the limit in the restaurant industry.

I first got into restaurants because I loved the social element and taking care of people through food. My first job might have been as a dishwasher, but I still loved the industry. I focused on that passion, and how even as a dishwasher I was an integral part of someone's restaurant experience. Every job is going to have elements you don't like and days that are tough, but if you love the industry your passion will power you through those moments and onto future successes.


If you don't believe you can do it, you won't. You need the self-confidence to get through the hard days and to drive your vision and salesmanship.

Perhaps one of the most well-known rags-to-riches stories in the restaurant industry is the rise of iconic chef Thomas Keller. Today he is known for creating Michelin-star restaurant after Michelin-star restaurant. But the famous chef had humble beginnings, starting in the industry as a dishwasher. To build an enterprise as Keller did takes 100 percent belief in yourself. You can bet that when Keller started out no one except him believed he would become one of the world's most famous chefs.

Related: So You Want to Open a Restaurant?


Everyone is in sales. To get ahead you have to sell yourself and your ideas every day. You need strong people skills and high EQ.

Food Network Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman's first restaurant job was at a bagel shop, and he was later a fry cook at McDonald's. Bitten by the food bug early, Goldman progressed to fine-dining establishments and attended both college and culinary school. In the early 2000s, he decided to strike out on his own and started Charm City Cakes selling cakes out of his house in Baltimore. With his effervescent personality and sales skills, Goldman was not only able to create his own cake company but also leverage it to become a Food Network personality and franchisor.


The people who get rich have an optimistic and opportunistic approach to life in general. In a five-year study of rich and poor people, 67% of millionaires said optimism was critical to their success. Everyone who has enjoyed great success has also experienced failures along the way. The difference is they didn't let one misstep define them or their careers. They retained the belief that they were on the right path and kept pressing forward. It's extremely rare for a pessimist to achieve great wealth. They simply don't believe it will happen, and for that reason alone, it won't.

Related: 4 Success Drivers When Launching a Restaurant

Learning mindset

No one starts in the restaurant industry knowing all the answers. But the people who get wealthy have a learning mindset and soak up knowledge from books, mentors and observation. They're also open to constructive criticism and learning from their mistakes.

The bottom line is that if you love working in restaurants and being around food and people, there is no reason to leave the industry for a corporate job to make more money. There are so many pathways to success in restaurants, the only limitations are your imagination and drive.

Disclosure: I am the CEO of Fransmart, a franchising group partnered with Fabio Viviani and Duff Goldman's companies.

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now and take this quiz to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

Dan Rowe

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder & CEO of Fransmart

For 20 years, Dan Rowe has grown emerging brands like Five Guys and The Halal Guys from concepts to international sensations through franchising. Fransmart's current portfolio includes fast-growing concepts like Duff's CakeMix, JARS, Rise, Taffer's Tavern, The Halal Guys and more.

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