Try This Super-Busy Restaurateur's Recipe for Preventing Personal Burnout Lien Ta, of the restaurants Here's Looking At You and All Day Baby, discusses ways to bring new business and new energy to your establishment.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Key Takeaways

  • Bad tech makes work harder, good tech makes it easier. Lien Ta saw her point-of-sale technology getting in the way of efficiency and switched to Toast. Now the entire staff operates better and is happier.
  • Lien Ta brought her own story and Southern roots into the menu to great success.
  • The restaurant's All Day Baby ADB Biscuit Sandwich has organically become a TikTok star, appearing in many viral customer-created videos.
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You need to find joy to run a restaurant that people love. But how can you expect anyone to love your business, if you don't love it yourself?

For restaurateur Lien Ta, she had to learn an important lesson about how working too much can negate your love for your job. There are two essential ingredients to running her Los Angeles restaurants that feature the viral breakfast sandwich at All Day Baby and their signature Boozy Milkshakes: "Restaurants require a lot of work and a lot of love."

In the sometimes chaotic world of operating restaurants and hosting live events, the restaurateur and industry leader learned that the best way to take care of others is to first take care of yourself. So every day Lien spends time doing something just for her — even if it's just a few minutes.

"I've gotten better week-to-week at building just a little bit more structure to better take care of myself. And the payoff is strong," All Day Baby co-founder Lien Ta told Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ Media on a visit to the Los Angeles restaurant.

One way that she has brought more joy into the world is with live events.

Hosting Events and Building Community

For Lien Ta, events are not just a way to make more money. Hosting unique gatherings (like her popular "Food Trivia Night") is a creative outlet, a catalyst for joy, and how her All Day Baby restaurant cultivates a loyal fanbase.

"We just had to find ways to differentiate our restaurant from other restaurants," she said. "Oftentimes restaurant work is repetitive, but events are the exact opposite. Sometimes when you collectively do something spontaneous, it's really meaningful."

If it weren't for the joy that Lien Ta feels for her profession, she wouldn't have been able to run one restaurant — much less multiple ones.

"I wouldn't have even thought of those events if I hadn't actually started doing these tiny little things for myself," she said.

Fundraising tips

Her passion helped raise $750,000 for her first restaurant, Here's Looking At You, and $1.25 million for All Day Baby.

Due to her willingness to share her own restaurant story with different forms of media, Lien has become a mentor to many who hope to do what she has done.

Her advice to budding restaurant entrepreneurs looking to raise money?

"You need to think about any single person that has possibly ever cared about you. Hopefully, they have deeper pockets than yourself," Lien said.

"You can tell them the concept, you can tell them why you think it's going to work, this is the 5-year plan, etc. Ultimately, an investor is investing in you and they need to believe that you're the kind of human that's going to see this through to the best of her capabilities."

Women taking control

Lien Ta knows hospitality can be a hard business for women. That's why she is working to help amplify women in the industry with the RE:Her nonprofit she co-founded.

RE:Her (Regarding Her) was created to accelerate women-owned food and beverage businesses all over the world.

"We believe a woman alone has power, but collectively, we have impact," their vision statement reads. "Our ambition is to create the food and beverage industry we want for ourselves and for future generations — one we can be proud of and in which women thrive."

Lien is proud of the work she's done with RE:Her and knows there's lots more to come.

"And what I love about RE:Her is I'm trying to forge true connections and learn these individual stories and do my best to provide a platform where we can celebrate those women. It's so wonderful to see them headlining panels or being incredible presences on social media," she said while sitting inside her All Day Baby during a recording for the Toast Family Style streaming series.

In Edible LA, Lien Ta wrote a love letter to her industry and opened up about rediscovering her joy for restaurants.

"For years I personified the classic trope of making passion my work, and then losing passion for it," she wrote. "In a way, I had to give myself permission. Permission to neglect my work and prioritize two, arguably bigger, things: myself and the value I cherish most, connection. I tried to convince myself that if I could do this, I could patch up my relationship with my job and my joy.

And as Lien Ta found, when you take care of yourself, it's a lot easier to take care of others.

"My inspiration was this: I couldn't bear to have any of my younger-generation employees look at me and think This must be the only way to reach success. To burn out beyond the pale. I wanted to be a better, healthier example of a human that knew she was only human — and it was okay to have needs of her own."

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About Restaurant Influencers

Restaurant Influencers is brought to you by Toast, the powerful restaurant point of sale and management system that helps restaurants improve operations, increase sales and create a better guest experience.

Toast — Powering Successful Restaurants. Learn more about Toast.

Shawn P. Walchef

Founder of Cali BBQ Media

“Be the show, not the commercial.”

Cali BBQ Media Founder Shawn Walchef helps brands and leaders leverage the new Business Creator Economy with strategic Smartphone Storytelling and Digital Hospitality.

His Cali BBQ restaurant company has generated more than $35 million since opening in 2008. They operate numerous locations in San Diego and beyond.

Shawn’s weekly video series Restaurant Influencers (published by Entrepreneur Media and produced by Cali BBQ Media) has been seen by over 25 million people.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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