5 Lessons About Restaurants You Can Learn From Superheroes

We all want a hero. We scoop up comic books and buy tickets to blockbuster movies to watch their adventures unfold before us.

The internal battles they face, the external forces of evil set to destroy our world, and the compassion they demonstrate for others. Superheroes give us hope. They restore faith. They inspire us to become more than we are.

Success leaves clues and the nature of superheroes is no different. Look closer at your favorite hero and you’ll see traits that many also share. These traits have nothing to do with having superpowers. They come from their character. They come from within themselves. They also can be a lesson for you in your quest to build a better restaurant. It’s the character of the leader that shapes the direction of a brand.

Weak brands have weak leaders, it’s that simple.



Here are 5 Lessons from superheroes that you can harness today to get closer to having the business you know it can be:

1. They know their values.

Almost all superheroes go through a crucible of internal conflict as they discover who they are and what they stand for. It’s your core values and they become your compass in life. To truly know your core values is a superpower that everyone can have. The sad thing is that most never use it.

If someone asked you right now what are some of your core values, could you honestly answer?

Not knowing what your core values are opens you up to be tossed around like a boat in the ocean without a rudder. You are at the mercy of the currents. That’s no way to live life to its fullest capacity. It lacks meaning. It lacks direction. It lacks a moral compass.

You’ll most likely see your superhero go through what is commonly referred to as the “hero’s journey”. It’s a classic tale that they all go through. They are going along in life just being themselves when a great challenge befalls them.

The challenge causes them to question themselves and what they value. They struggle to find the answers before realizing that they had the answers inside all along. Once they know exactly who they are and what they stand for they become an unstoppable force in the world.

What do you stand for?

What values do you refuse to surrender?

If you don’t know, you need to.

Knowing your core values becomes your superpower and they will become your light and compass during dark days and troubled times.

2. They focus on others.

Superheroes share compassion for others. This trait is of course exploited by the villain who cares nothing about others. That’s the balance of the world that creates yin and yang. We need both to survive and to thrive.

Many times the superhero will even sacrifice themselves for the sake of another. I am not suggesting you go that far. However, if you want to take your restaurant to superhero status...a little more "we" instead of "me" will go a long way with your team. One emotion many leaders need to tap into is that of empathy.

At the heart of restaurants is the word hospitality. The word itself comes from Hospes, a Latin word meaning host. To be a true host is to be empathetic towards your guests. We sometimes forget to extend this same courtesy to our team and fellow co-workers. We work hard to develop relationships with our guests and fail to develop relationships with our team.

Relationships are how we relate to each other. Yes, they can be a challenge. Yes, they can be frustrating. They can also be rewarding and immensely fulfilling. It would be a lie if I said they are easy. However, most great things in life are not easy.

3. They embrace their dark side.

There is a duality in humans that all superheroes understand. We can’t have good without understanding evil. We must know both sides of our nature in order to harness the powers we have. That means knowing and tapping into that dark side you have.



Wait. You don’t think you have a dark side? Everyone has. Even if you don’t want to admit it, it’s there deep inside you. Sometimes it manifests itself in behavior that you excuse away with, “That’s not like me.” It could be that voice in your head that seductively tells you to just “Do it,”. Make no mistake about it, you do have a dark side. It knows those deep secrets you keep to yourself. It knows the things you crave and don’t tell others about. It doesn’t have to be evil per se, it’s just a hidden part of you that is based more on raw instinct than logic.

Superheroes harness their dark side to tap into energy levels they know that they normally could not access. To accept your duality unifies your personality into a solid character. You either control your dark side or it can control you. Surely you’ve met people who seem impulsive and reckless. That’s their dark side running wild and wreaking havoc in their life.

4. They fight to win.

There is a difference when you fight to win over just to hold onto what you have. One takes risks and the other makes the safe play. You will never get the restaurant you want playing it safe.

Superheroes know the high stakes involved when they do battle with the forces of evil. You have evil right now lurking in your restaurant. It takes the form of complacency and mediocrity.

Oh yes, it’s there hiding in the shadows of poor training and lack of standards. It’s apparent when you don’t speak up when you know something is not right.

When mediocrity creeps into your restaurant you have to approach it head on and be dedicated to winning the fight. Many are not prepared to go the distance and do what needs to be done. You’ll need to channel your inner superhero in this situation and fight to win against mediocrity.



5. They love challenges.

For superheroes, the bigger the challenge the better they become. It’s in the challenge where the growth lays. The evolution of the human race was built on adaptation.

Outstanding restaurants also carry that same trait. They adapt and evolve as markets change. You have to or risk becoming obsolete. It’s natural law.

If you haven’t noticed there is an economic storm upon the restaurant industry as you read this. Intense competition for market share and staffing are just the beginning. Many niche markets that were great opportunities a few years ago now have become over saturated. It’s a virtual red ocean for many as they get drawn into price wars, discounts, and higher hourly wages.

Your challenge lies in not competing but instead standing out. Don’t get drawn into what others are doing. Explore creative areas that build value and loyalty to your guests and your team.

For years, the buzzword has been the guest experience (GX), as the industry transforms you need to focus more on the team experience (TX). Building the culture and creating an atmosphere that turns your team into brand advocates is the best way to stand out. Every restaurant in your market has access to the same products, same marketing tools, and the same labor pool. What separates the good from the outstanding is their culture. It’s the one thing that others cannot copy. They can have the same menu items and even the same decor. It’s your culture that makes the difference.

Superheroes understand that culture elevates people to become their best by setting the example by their daily actions.

Superheroes are true leaders in every sense of the word. They live their values, they focus on others, embrace their dark side, fight to win, and rise to the challenges that life throws at them.

The restaurant industry needs more true leaders. We need more superheroes to step up and fight the battle against mediocrity. Are you ready to join the fight?