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Restaurant-Owning Episode

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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. Its 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.

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Sub-Trope of Cooking Stories and New Job Episode.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • The Powerpuff Girls are suspicious when Mojo Jojo opens his own legitimate restaurant. They keep sabotaging it with their fear the food is tainted when it really isn't.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Frasier, Frasier's and Niles's attempt to open up an exclusive high-end eatery meets with typically disastrous results. Many episodes later, when Frasier and Niles tries to write a book together, Martin is about to say that this is the stupidest idea they've ever had, but after thinking about it for few seconds, concludes that the restaurant idea was even stupider.
  • 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 only for her and Ivy to get roped into wearing silly costumes as the restaurant's waitresses.
  • iCarly has "iOpen a Restaurant", where Gibby starts a restaurant in the school basement.
  • An episode of I Love Lucy has Ricky deciding to go in the restaurant 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.
  • 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.
  • In season three of Punky Brewster, Henry sells his photography studio and opens a little restaurant he names "Punky's Place."
  • 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 
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    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. Stan's first instinct is to beat up Roger in a fit of rage, but he pulls a gun and nervously tells him to calm down and just let the fire do its thing. Then the episode ends.
  • The latter half of the second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender sees Iroh and Zuko getting jobs as servers in a tea shop in Ba Sing Se, and working their way up to running their own tea house. Since Iroh is so passionate about tea — and so skilled at its preparation — their shop is actually very successful, but Zuko resents the peasant life that he views as beneath him. It eventually all comes to an end when Azula conquers the city. After the Grand Finale, Iroh moves back to Ba Sing Se and reopens, and the last scene of the series is the heroes celebrating there.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • The whole show 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, the new marketing stunt - a Pacific island theme - actually works, but is thwarted by Bob being a man of Honor Before Reason; he doesn't want to get more customers if they are attracted to the place just because of the gimmicks.
    • In the "Are You There Bob? It's Me Birthday" 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.
  • The Boondocks episode "The Itis" involves Ed Wuncler I converting a vegetarian restaurant he already owns, turning it into a soul food restaurant managed by Robert Freeman. The restaurant, now renamed as The Itis, serves ridiculously unhealthy, highly fattening African-American cuisine that causes obesity and poverty to skyrocket in the surrounding neighborhood. It turns out that this was all part of Wuncler's Evil Plan to devalue the neighborhood so much that he could afford to purchase a nearby public park at a significantly reduced price.
  • 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 valuable 16th Century Rhode Island Ship token 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 - which indeed, they can't serve...because they're out of mustard.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: "Chez Beezy" sees Beezy end up with ownership of one of Miseryville's fanciest restaurants when the former chef quits after an argument with him.
  • n the KaBlam! episode, "Won't Stick to Most Dental Work", Henry leaves the show after a feud with June, and opens his own restaurant called Henry's House of KaBoom!. The restaurant is a massive success, but without a replacement co-host, June's career on KaBlam! begins to plummet. When June shows Henry a montage of the good times they had together, the two realize how much they miss each other, and Henry returns to the show.
  • 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.
  • In the The Loud House episode, "Cooked!", the Loud family acquire an abandoned seafood restaurant and turn it into a family restaurant called Lynn's Table. On the day of the grand opening, a printing error leads to the kids coming up with their own promotions, but their lack of teamwork and crazy promos lead to an ultimate nightmare in the kitchen for Lynn Sr. The restaurant still survives, though.
  • 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, he's too cheap to hire extra staff, and it soon fails when the stress of running the restaurant by himself and the incessant demands of child customers eventually cause Moe to react with his characteristic 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Steven Universe episode "Restaurant Wars", Steven decides to end the excessive competition between two restaurants by opening a new restaurant they'd have to compete with together. The food is good enough that they end their feud and beg Steven to quit, but Steven points out he doesn't have the time to keep running it.
  • In the Super Mario World episode, "King Scoopa Koopa", King Koopa opens up a fast-food restaurant called Scoopa Koopa's, and makes a lot of money from the cavepeople, Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi. Unfortunately, anyone who eats the Egg Scoopa Koopa sandwiches gets turned into a Chickadactyl, and this gives Koopa the idea to open a Fried Chickadactyl restaurant, using his own customers as the food. Since Mario and Princess Toadstool didn't eat any of the Egg Scoopa Koopa sandwiches due to the former not liking eggs and the latter not eating Koopa's food at all, it's up to them to shut down Scoopa Koopa's and save their friends.

    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).
  • By some accounts, 60% of restaurants fail in the first year, and 80% do so in the first five years. An often given reason is an inexperienced or hands-off owner.

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