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Mario Batali on Lessons From His Biggest Failure

The celebrity chef talks about avoiding the pitfalls of the restaurant industry in a conversation with Founders Forum.

Few entrepreneurs in the restaurant business can match Mario Batali's track record.

In an industry where most startups fail, the celebrity chef has roughly a 95 percent success rate, having closed just one restaurant: Bistro du Vent on New York's 42nd Street.

During a conversation with Young Entrepreneur Council founder Scott Gerber, Batali talked about his sole failure, and what the experience of closing down has taught him.

"What we had to learn is, when we do a project, everyone’s going to look at it. We can’t just slide one by because we think it’s a great idea and we got a great real estate deal," Batali says.

"Fundamentally, the real estate deal is what draws you in first, but it can’t be the main operational factor. We took a great real estate deal and we didn’t put enough effort into it." 

So what's his secret sauce for success? For Batali, building a lasting business requires focusing on passion before profits.

"Whether it's a location, a staff member, a product in the kitchen, or a kind of fish, we figure out whether we can love it, whether we can sell it, and whether we can make a profit with it, in that order," he says. 

"We really need to love it first, and if we love it, then it's going to stick around and were going to be able to feel confident that when we take our hands off the wheel, we’re not going to crash into the wall."

For more tips on how to be a successful restaurateur, watch the video below.


Mario Batali on Growing a Business

The celebrity chef talks branding, business, and building quality products with Scott Gerber.

Last updated: Jul 24, 2014


Graham Winfrey is a staff writer for He previously covered alternative investments at Private Equity International magazine, prior to which he worked at Business Insider and He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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