The pandemic has wreaked havoc on many industries, namely the restaurant and hospitality sector. This article was written to provide insight to former restaurant owners that might be in the process of determining what professions would allow them to monetize their skillset in the current economy that is the hardest on restaurants. 

In 2019, I started evaluating ways to expand the services we offer to our restaurant and hospitality clients at Northwest Advisory Group and it led to me getting a real estate license. This allowed us to collaborate with commercial brokerages in the mergers and acquisitions space, while also partnering with residential realtors to help our entrepreneur clients with their real estate needs.

As I’ve invested time with extremely successful real estate agents on the residential and commercial side, I’ve learned about opportunities in real estate, that I believe, would suit restauranteurs well.

In 2020, thousands of restaurant owners were forced to close their business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in over 110,000 permanent closures across the United States. Many of these restaurants were full-service style restaurants with menu items that don’t thrive in a take-out & delivery economy. Not only did many of these restaurant owners lose their business, but the very asset they were counting on to support their family, community, and fund their retirement.

In working with restaurant owners for more than a decade, I believe current or former restaurant owners are well positioned to consider building real estate or financial services businesses because of their unique skillset, business experience, and passion.


  1. Strong Work Ethic

Running a successful restaurant is TWO full-time jobs. It is hard work and if you know a restaurant owner, you know they are busy! From managing vendors, employees, menu changes, reservations, landlord challenges, and unethical point-of-sale providers, restaurant owners invest their day fighting to ensure clients have a great experience so they can win loyal customers. This quality translates well to the real estate sector because buyers and sellers value working with professionals that are willing to work hard to get deals done under pressure and time constraints. For a restauranteur, this just another day in the life of running a successful business.

The bottom line: A restauranteurs work-ethic would translate well to the real estate sector.


  1. Resilient

Being a successful residential or commercial realtor takes resilience. The same goes for restaurant owners that have weathered the changes in the economy over the past decade. It’s not good enough to work hard for a restaurant owner, they must continue to work hard in the face of insurmountable odds, while also doing their best to keep a positive attitude. The best restaurant owners are resilient in the face of adversity and coincidentally, so are the best real estate professionals. The restaurant and real estate professionals that build great companies, are those that fall 10 times, and get up 11. Restauranteurs do that every day.

The bottom line: Restauranteurs eat adversity for breakfast, brunch, and lunch.

  1. Business Acumen

Many real estate professionals enter the real estate profession without any sales or business experience, which likely contributes to only 13% of agents succeeding in real estate after 5 years. When it comes to acumen, it’s about more than passing the real estate exam. The high performing realtors I partner with are constantly working at understanding their local market, advancing their professional capabilities to serve clients, and focusing on lead generation, even when they don’t feel like it.

Restaurant owners, during their workday, are constantly following what’s happening in the local food market, improving their food and service, and making sure their staff are serving clients well so they get more repeat business. A restauranteurs business acumen will also allow them to craft unique experiences for their clients by bringing fresh ideas, partnerships, and opportunities, which will lead to more referrals.

The bottom line: Restauranteurs have strong business acumen that, along with their creativity, would serve them well in the real estate sector.


  1. People Skills

Successful realtors are masters at building a large network of people that know, like, and trust them. This is not a skill that you can attend a weekend seminar to develop mastery at, it takes time, time that restaurant owners have often invested decades developing in a high paced, stressful environment. How easy are you to get along with on a Friday night when you’re hangry? Imagine managing a staff of people that are all serving hangry folks on a Friday night. Most restaurant owners I know have superior people skills and an existing business network that would help them build a great career in real estate.

The bottom line: Most restaurant owners are superior to most professionals when it comes to working with individuals and families in stressful environments. This would give them an advantage in real estate.


  1. Storytelling Skills

I recently watched an interview that Tom Ferry did with storytelling expert Laura Morton, and in this interview, they talked about how important storytelling is for real estate agents. Storytelling not only helps realtors stand out from the competition, but when done properly, helps buyers and sellers make quality decisions about their real estate decisions, especially which realtor to work with. 

The concept of storytelling for restauranteurs is not foreign. Running a restaurant, especially in the fine dining category, involves having a compelling story to tell patrons. This includes a story about how the restaurant got started generations ago, where the ingredients are being sourced, and sometimes, the deeper mission and values of the restauranteur. Restaurant owners, after years of telling impactful stories about themselves and their restaurant, could find it easy to engage with buyers and sellers in the client attraction process.

The bottom line: Successful restauranteurs are already storytellers, making them excellent candidates for the real estate industry.


  1. Opportunity

Real estate in 2018, according to federal statistics, contributed over 2.7 trillion dollars to the United States economy, employed more than 2 million people, and generated more than 10 billion dollars in profits. The opportunity in the real estate sector is immense, beyond only being a real estate agent. There are many examples of successful companies positioned within the real estate sector that offer ancillary services to the industry that make the lives of realtors easier and more efficient. You might be asking, “What about the pandemic?”. Well, real estate agents, along with other financial services professionals were considered an essential business during the pandemic, allowing many of these entrepreneurs to continue running their business. Imagine being in a business that is not only essential but lucrative.

According to Stefan Swanepoel, the leading authority and visionary on trends in the real estate brokerage industry, stated in a recent conference that real estate is one of few professions where, within a matter of years, a person could earn well into the 6 and 7 figures on personal production. This does not include the opportunity to engage in ancillary services tied to real estate that allow real estate agents to earn ongoing income outside of their personal sales.

Restauranteurs should consider the opportunity of real estate because it would allow them an opportunity to do what few other industries allow; the opportunity to, when done right, earn a significant amount of money in a short period of time. Financial rewards aren’t a guarantee, but it is available to real estate agents with the proper work ethic, talent, and business model.

The bottom line: The real estate industry offers a great opportunity for restauranteurs looking for lucrative opportunities outside of the hospitality sector to build wealth.



Real estate can be a rewarding career, and could be ideal for a current or former restaurant owner wanting to rebuild their financial wealth for the future. This could allow them to reenter the real estate sector once social distancing and lockdowns have ended so they can rebuild their restaurant portfolio if they choose.

If you are a current or former restauranteur considering what to do professionally outside of the hospitality sector to rebuild your wealth, I’d love to talk with you about ways to leverage your professional skills and talents.

If that’s you, let’s talk!