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Restaurant-Owning Episode

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Bob opens a restaurant naively thinking it will be fun

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Lawman592 on Oct 4th 2018 at 4:31:27 PM
Last Edited By:
Lawman592 on Oct 25th 2018 at 10:31:04 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

It's my theory that owning a restaurant is the kind of universal fantasy everyone ought to grow out of, sooner rather than later, or else you will be stuck with the restaurant. There are many problems that come with owning a restaurant, not the least of which is that you have to eat there all the time.
Nora Ephron, "My Life as a Meat Loaf", I Remember Nothing:

Owning and managing a restaurant is a demanding job. Their operation requires people to expend considerable money, time, and effort—and even that, in most cases, won't be enough to keep it from failing. When a character on a TV show opens up or buys a restaurant, he or she usually does so thinking it will be fun and not taking into account the amount of money, work, red tape, and stress involved. This results in the character being quickly overwhelmed by his or her new responsibilities and comically blundering through a series of culinary and serving mishaps that make his or her inexperience in the food service industry apparent to the unfortunate customers. In most instances, the episode ends with the character closing or selling the restaurant and going back to whatever job he or she did previously.

Sub-Trope of New Job Episode.


Examples

Live-Action TV
  • On Frasier, Frasier's and Niles' attempt to open up an exclusive high-end eatery meets with typically disastrous results.
  • In the Good Luck Charlie episode, "Wentz's Weather Girls", Teddy convinces Harry Wentz to follow his dream of opening Denver's first weather-themed restaurant, but Teddy and Ivy get roped into wearing silly costumes as the restaurant's waitresses.
  • Truth in Television as shown on Kitchen Nightmares, various times we see owners that outright said that they opened a restaurant because "would be fun" or "to have something to do" thinking it would be a minor-effort business. Many times is shown that it is indeed minor-effort, since there are no customers.
  • An episode of I Love Lucy has Ricky deciding to go in the restuarant business with his wife and the Murtzes after getting tired of show business. Unfortunately it ends in failure since the two couples couldn't work together.
  • On the Seinfeld episode "The Cafe", Jerry suggests to struggling restaurant-owner Babu Bhatt that he change the eatery's cuisine to that of his native Pakistan. Babu takes Jerry's advice and after expending a large amount of money renovating the place, ends up drawing even fewer customers.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: In one episode Max decides to bring more money into the family sub station by serving Wizarding World patrons from the lair. This proves to be a good idea- such a good one, in fact, that Justin and Jerry get greedy and take over, running Max ragged and destroying the new business.

Web Animation

Western Animation

  • The American Dad! episode "Stan's Food Restaurant" revolves around Stan wanting to start a restaurant centered around fun comfort foods, but Stan hits a snag when the bank denies him a loan. He turns to Roger, who gets a loan for the restaurant and is legally the owner, but wants to start a traditional Thai restaurant instead. Roger eventually tries to compete with Stan's successful restaurant by starting his own right next door. Roger's restaurant goes under, and Roger burns it to the ground for the insurance money. The episode ends with Roger glad that everything worked out in the end for everyone, as Stan watches in horror as his successful business literally goes up in flames.
  • The latter half of the second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender sees Iroh and Zuko opening up a tea shop in Ba Sing Se. Unfortunately, when Azula captures the city, Iroh is arrested and the tea shop is closed down.
  • Bob's Burgers is about a family that runs a small restaurant, which is doing steady, if not remarkable, business. This trope comes into effect whenever they try to expand their services, like serving brunch or running a food truck. These are usually the work of Bob's impulsive wife Linda, and her poor planning, compounded by the kids' antics, usually means they're back to normal at episode's end.
    • In one episode, Hugo the health inspector takes Bob on an inspection to show how important his job is. The restaurant they inspect is run by a former stockbroker who had no food service training and opened a wrap restaurant because he thought it would be fun and easy. Hugo finds violation after violation and marks the place with an F, then makes Bob eat one of the wraps, which makes him violently ill. The stockbroker doesn't seem to get the message, as he plans to start a sushi restaurant next.
  • In Season 1 of Bojack Horseman, Bojack buys Elefante, the restaurant where he's eating, in an attempt to one-up Mr. Peanutbutter. However, because Bojack never gets involved in running the restaurant and the place continues to do well, this trope is mostly averted until season 3 when Bojack accidentally fires one of the waiters which leads to all but one of employees quitting, the kitchen going up in flames, and most of the customers leaving in a huff.
  • Family Guy:
    • The "Saturated Fat Guy" episode has Peter starting a junk-food themed food truck in response to Lois' meager request for him to start eating a little healthier. The truck is successful, but Peter takes things too far by getting fatter and fatter off his own creations. Eventually, he's too large to exit the truck and has to be physically lifted out of the torn-off roof by a crane.
    • In the "No Meals on Wheels" episode, Lois gets her carpets pulled up when Peter won't stop shocking people with his footy pajamas. The Griffin family end up finding a 15th Century Rhode Island Ship token, which is worth thousands of dollars, and end up becoming rich enough to start Peter's dream job of owning a restaurant called Big Pete's House of Munch. When business is slow, Joe Swanson decides to help Peter by inviting his friends over to eat there. Much to Peter's ire, Joe's friends aren't cops, but rather paraplegics, giving Big Pete's House of Munch the reputation of only being popular with handicapped people.
  • The Flintstones: Over their wives' objections, Fred and Barney open a drive-in restaurant without fully knowing the amount of time and money involved in its operation.
  • In the Garfield and Friends episode, "Orson's Diner", Orson Pig needs to raise money to buy some new books, so he and Wade Duck decide to start their own diner after finding a book that says, "How to Start Your Own Restaurant". When Roy Rooster is their first customer, they tell him that if he orders something they can't fix, he can get free food from them for a month. Roy takes advantage of their policy and begins ordering strange and complicated foods, including an elephant foot sandwich with mustard.
  • King of the Hill: In the "Hanky Panky" and "High Anxiety" episodes, Peggy takes over running Sugarfoot's Barbecue and adds some "innovations" to the restaurant that prove unpopular with its customers and the owner, Buck Strickland.
  • The The Looney Tunes Show episode, "Sunday Night Slice" shows the origin of how Pizzarriba came to be. When Gerardi's, Bugs and Daffy's favorite pizza restaurant closes down, Bugs buys it and decides to run it with the help of Daffy, Porky, Marvin the Martian, and Pete Puma. However, their attempts to run Gerardi's are a disaster, so Bugs enlists Speedy Gonzales' help, due to Speedy's lifelong dream to own a restaurant. Thanks to Speedy, Gerardi's is a success and Bugs not only gives Speedy ownership of it, but also renames it Pizzarriba in his honor.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In "Chez Platypus", the boys open a restaurant called, well, Chez Platypus. As typical of the show, they become the most popular restaurant in town as soon as it's created, with almost the entire town lining up outside and both Doofenshmirtz and Candace going on dates there.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the "Bart Sells His Soul" episode, Moe renovates his tavern into a family-friendly restaurant. However, it soon fails when the incessant demands of child customers eventually cause Moe to react with his typical surliness.
    • "Super Franchise Me" sees Marge opening up a sandwich shop, but it soon becomes more than they had hoped. Homer works so hard that he loses a few pants sizes, but the business starts to sink when Cletus and the Spuckler family open up the exact same franchise right across the street. This leads Marge to think of creative ways to get out of her contract so they can go back to their normal lives.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Played with in "Patty Hype". SpongeBob tries to sell Mr. Krabs on the idea of colored patties, which Krabs rejects as being too silly. SpongeBob then sells them on his own and becomes successful, making Mr. Krabs change his tune. He convinces SpongeBob to sell him the stand in exchange for getting the Krusty Krab. Unfortunately, Krabs now has to face hundreds of angry customers who have been turned bright colors by the patties.
  • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Chez Amy", Amy is tired of Dave the Intern frequently getting her order wrong at Meh Burger, so she turns her house into a restaurant called Chez Amy, and hires Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Sticks as employees. This causes a rivalry with Meh Burger, and Dr. Eggman decides to help Amy win by destroying Meh Burger. This later leads Amy to hire Dave to work at Chez Amy, and thanks to Dave's lackluster service towards Eggman, Eggman destroying Chez Amy.

Real Life

  • Anthony Bourdain (a professional chef who's had to deal with them many times in his career) rails against these new owners in his book Kitchen Confidential, explaining that they have no idea how much work it is to run a restaurant and how there's infinitely more to it than just being good at cooking, such as managing cooks who hate each other, changing menus to get rid of nearly-expired food, dealing with health inspections, knowing how to unplug grease traps, etc. Often the restaurants end up failing due to entirely predictable circumstances (predictable by the staff, not the owners).

Feedback: 36 replies

Oct 4th 2018 at 4:41:18 PM

  • Phineas And Ferb: In "Chez Platypus", the boys open a restaurant called, well, Chez Platypus. As typical of the show, they become the most popular restaurant in town as soon as it's created, with almost the entire town lining up outside and both Doofenshmirtz and Candace going on dates there.

Oct 4th 2018 at 4:54:07 PM

  • The American Dad episode "Stan's Food Restaurant" revolves around Stan wanting to start a restaurant centered around fun comfort foods, but Stan hits a snag when the bank denies him a loan. He turns to Roger, who gets a loan for the restaurant and is legally the owner, but wants to start a traditional Thai restaurant instead. Roger eventually tries to compete with Stan's successful restaurant by starting his own right next door. Roger's restaurant goes under, and Roger burns it to the ground for the insurance money. The episode ends with Roger glad that everything worked out in the end for everyone, as Stan watches in horror as his successful business literally goes up in flames.
  • The Family Guy episode "Saturated Fat Guy" has Peter starting a junk-food themed food truck in response to Lois' meager request for him to start eating a little healthier. The truck is successful, but Peter takes things too far by getting fatter and fatter off his own creations. Eventually, he's too large to exit the truck and has to be physically lifted out of the torn-off roof by a crane.

Oct 4th 2018 at 5:21:47 PM

Western Animation

  • Another Family Guy example; In "No Meals on Wheels", Lois gets her carpets pulled up when Peter won't stop shocking people with his footy pajamas. The Griffin family end up finding a 15th Century Rhode Island Ship token, which is worth thousands of dollars, and end up becoming rich enough to start Peter's dream job of owning a restaurant called Big Pete's House of Munch. When business is slow, Joe Swanson decides to help Peter by inviting his friends over to eat there. Much to Peter's ire, Joe's friends aren't cops, but rather paraplegics, giving Big Pete's House of Munch the reputation of only being popular with handicapped people.

Oct 4th 2018 at 5:34:23 PM

Western Animation

  • The latter half of the second season of Avatar The Last Airbender sees Iroh and Zuko opening up a tea shop in Ba Sing Se. Unfortunately, when Azula captures the city, Iroh is arrested and the tea shop is closed down.

Oct 4th 2018 at 10:04:07 PM

Live Action TV

Oct 5th 2018 at 2:00:53 AM

Does it have to be an episode, though? What if it is a series-spanning arc?

  • In the original one-shot (later retooled into the first chapter) of Ame Iro Kouchakan Kandan, Seriho wins a lottery and uses the money to open her own tea house, like she always dreamed of. She drastically underestimates her management skills, however, and towards the end of the one-shot/chapter, her tea house faces closure when lottery money runs out. Then she wins the lottery again and, with Sarasa at the reigns, manages to stay in business for the rest of the manga.

Oct 5th 2018 at 12:59:39 AM

^ That depends on the length of the arc. An entire season of a series about a character operating a restaurant would not be covered under this trope but a short arc lasting only a few episodes would be okay.

Oct 5th 2018 at 1:58:54 AM

^ Actually, I've reread the first chapters, and it seems I misremembered the story. I've updated the example write-up in my original comment, does it still (not) fit?

Oct 5th 2018 at 4:43:02 AM

Live Action TV

  • In the Good Luck Charlie episode, "Wentz's Weather Girls", Teddy convinces Harry Wentz to follow his dream of opening Denver's first weather-themed restaurant, but Teddy and Ivy get roped into wearing silly costumes as the restaurant's waitresses.

Oct 5th 2018 at 9:17:59 AM

Oct 5th 2018 at 10:10:00 AM

  • I Carly: "iOpen a Restaurant" has Sam and Gibby open a secret restaurant in the school's basement. It works out surprisingly well, despite the strange premise. The one hiccup comes when bully Billy Barns tries to get the restaurant shut down by informing Dean Bitterman Principal Howard about it. He demands it get shut down... but the actual principal, Principal Franklin, liked the restaurant so much he allowed them to keep going.

Oct 5th 2018 at 10:50:11 AM

Oct 5th 2018 at 11:15:26 AM

^ Another Simpsons episode:

  • "Super Franchise Me" sees Marge opening up a sandwich shop, but it soon becomes more than they had hoped. Homer works so hard that he loses a few pants sizes, but the business starts to sink when Cletus and the Spuckler family open up the exact same franchise right across the street. This leads Marge to think of creative ways to get out of her contract so they can go back to their normal lives.

Oct 5th 2018 at 12:27:49 PM

Western Animation

  • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Chez Amy", Amy is tired of Dave the Intern frequently getting her order wrong at Meh Burger, so she turns her house into a restaurant called Chez Amy, and hires Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Sticks as employees. This causes a rivalry with Meh Burger, and Dr. Eggman decides to help Amy win by destroying Meh Burger. This later leads Amy to hire Dave to work at Chez Amy, and thanks to Dave's lackluster service towards Eggman, Eggman destroying Chez Amy.

Oct 5th 2018 at 12:36:53 PM

Adding a hat, because there's actually quite a lot of Western Animation examples alone to launch the trope, but I know that plenty more will show up.

Oct 5th 2018 at 2:32:15 PM

Web Animation

  • Supermarioglitchy4s Super Mario 64 Bloopers: In The Mario Cafe, Bowser recruits Mario and his friends to run a cafe with him. Mario and the others initially hate it, but start to like it more when they find tasks in the cafe that they're good at.

Oct 5th 2018 at 2:36:42 PM

Western Animation:

  • In Season 1 of Bojack Horseman, Bojack buys the restaurant where he's eating in an attempt to one-up Mr. Peanutbutter. Bojack never gets involved in running the restaurant, once claiming that it runs itself. Elefante (the restaurant) seems to do fine until season 3, when Bojack accidentally fires one of the waiters. This cascades into all but one employees quitting, resulting in the kitchen ending up on fire and many of the customers leaving in a huff.

Oct 5th 2018 at 4:05:45 PM

I've thrown my hat into the ring.

Oct 5th 2018 at 7:57:25 PM

  • Wizards Of Waverly Place: In one episode Max decides to bring more money into the family sub station by serving Wizarding World patrons from the lair. This proves to be a good idea- such a good one, in fact, that Justin and Jerry get greedy and take over, running Max ragged and destroying the new business.

Oct 5th 2018 at 11:25:44 PM

An episode of I Love Lucy has Ricky deciding to go in the restuarant business with his wife and the Murtzes after getting tired of show business. Unfortunately it ends in failure since the two couples couldn't work together.

Oct 6th 2018 at 8:43:51 AM

  • Bobs Burgers is about a family that runs a small restaurant, which is doing steady, if not remarkable, business. This trope comes into effect whenever they try to expand their services, like serving brunch or running a food truck. These are usually the work of Bob's impulsive wife Linda, and her poor planning, compounded by the kids' antics, usually means they're back to normal at episode's end.
    • In one episode, Hugo the health inspector takes Bob on an inspection to show how important his job is. The restaurant they inspect is run by a former stockbroker who had no food service training and opened a wrap restaurant because he thought it would be fun and easy. Hugo finds violation after violation and marks the place with an F, then makes Bob eat one of the wraps, which makes him violently ill. The stockbroker doesn't seem to get the message, as he plans to start a sushi restaurant next.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants: Played with in "Patty Hype". SpongeBob tries to sell Mr. Krabs on the idea of colored patties, which Krabs rejects as being too silly. SpongeBob then sells them on his own and becomes successful, making Mr. Krabs change his tune. He convinces SpongeBob to sell him the stand in exchange for getting the Krusty Krab. Unfortunately, Krabs now has to face hundreds of angry customers who have been turned bright colors by the patties.

Oct 6th 2018 at 9:43:40 AM

To clarify, this doesn't cover stories like Big Night or Pie In The Sky where the challenges of running a restaurant are an ongoing, key part of the plot, right?

Oct 6th 2018 at 3:41:53 PM

^ Yes. However, in the case of movies, if a character opens and closes an eatery during the course of the film, this trope can apply.

Oct 7th 2018 at 5:29:53 AM

Quoth Nora Ephron in the essay "My Life as a Meat Loaf" in her book I Remember Nothing:

It's my theory that owning a restaurant is the kind of universal fantasy everyone ought to grow out of, sooner rather than later, or else you will be stuck with the restaurant. There are many problems that come with owning a restaurant, not the least of which is that you have to eat there all the time.

Oct 7th 2018 at 3:23:18 PM

Western Animation

  • In the Garfield And Friends episode, "Orson's Diner", Orson Pig needs to raise money to buy some new books, so he and Wade Duck decide to start their own diner after finding a book that says, "How to Start Your Own Restaurant". When Roy Rooster is their first customer, they tell him that if he orders something they can't fix, he can get free food from them for a month. Roy takes advantage of their policy and begins ordering strange and complicated foods, including an elephant foot sandwich with mustard.

Oct 9th 2018 at 6:02:20 AM

Western Animation

  • The The Looney Tunes Show episode, "Sunday Night Slice" shows the origin of how Pizzarriba came to be. When Gerardi's, Bugs and Daffy's favorite pizza restaurant closes down, Bugs buys it and decides to run it with the help of Daffy, Porky, Marvin the Martian, and Pete Puma. However, their attempts to run Gerardi's are a disaster, so Bugs enlists Speedy Gonzales' help, due to Speedy's lifelong dream to own a restaurant. Thanks to Speedy, Gerardi's is a success and Bugs not only gives Speedy ownership of it, but also renames it Pizzarriba in his honor.

Oct 11th 2018 at 2:33:50 PM

Anthony Bourdain (a professional chef who's had to deal with them many times in his career) rails against these new owners in his book Kitchen Confidential, explaining that they have no idea how much work it is to run a restaurant and how there's infinitely more to it than just being good at cooking, such as managing cooks who hate each other, changing menus to get rid of nearly-expired food, dealing with health inspections, knowing how to unplug grease traps, etc. Often the restaurants end up failing due to entirely predictable circumstances (predictable by the staff, not the owners).

Oct 17th 2018 at 12:23:52 PM

Bumped to request a few more examples and hats before I launch this.

Oct 17th 2018 at 12:49:59 PM

Would episodes where the characters open a Lemonade Stand count as this trope? I'm pretty sure this happens often in Western Animation. Maybe that would work better as a Sub Trope (i.e. Lemonade Stand Episode)?

Oct 17th 2018 at 1:19:53 PM

Not sure if this counts (the stress involved in running a restaurant is never a focus for the plot as far as I can remember), but in the later series of Diagnosis Murder, Steve and Jesse become co-owners of a barbecue restaurant.

Oct 17th 2018 at 3:55:51 PM

^^ If the characters operating a lemonade stand go through the same hassles a restaurant owner would, it would count.

^ I have not seen the episode but it would count if the characters either closed the restaurant or sold out by the end of episode. If the restaurant became a permanent part of series, it wouldn't.

Oct 17th 2018 at 10:26:13 PM

  • In The Ref, Lloyd and Caroline once briefly had a restaurant, however it was panned by critics and a financial flop. Lloyd considers it something of an Old Shame and seems to regret ever doing it, while Caroline wishes he given it more of a chance.

Oct 17th 2018 at 10:38:57 PM

^^ Doesn't count then, I'm fairly certain it stayed open for most of the series after they bought it

Oct 20th 2018 at 1:09:42 AM

^^ The example in The Ref wouldn't be covered under this trope because it's just a dialogue reference. There were no scenes in the movie actually showing the characters opening, operating, and closing a restaurant.

Oct 18th 2018 at 9:48:50 PM

Once A Season in the Top Chef series with Restaurant Wars. The chefs split into two teams and have to come up with a concept, menu, and decor for a restaurant.

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