restaurant manager conducting interview

Every year, about 45 percent of people make resolutions, but only 8 percent keep them. Though it’s possible to set new goals any day of the year, the beginning of the year symbolizes a fresh start and a rebirth for many people. Making a New Year’s resolution has become just as traditional as watching the ball drop in Times Square.

We took a dive into the history of New Year’s resolutions, shared a few restaurant resolutions, and revealed the best way to keep your resolution alive throughout the year.

The History of New Year’s Resolutions

According to History, the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions dates back over 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonian festival of Akitu. During this 12-day celebration, the Babylonians would celebrate the “rebirth of the natural world” by planting crops, crowning a new king (or reaffirm the power of the reigning king), making promises to their gods, and paying back their debts. The roots of New Year’s resolutions seemed to begin here: The Babylonians believed if they kept their promises to the gods, they would stay on the gods’ good side.

Fast forwarding to the 19th century, humans are still making (and failing to keep) resolutions. According to Merriam-Webster, a 1671 entry from the diaries of Scottish writer Anne Halkett contains a number of pledges, typically taken from biblical verses. Halkett titled this page “Resolutions,” and wrote them on Jan. 2, possibly indicating that the practice was in use at the time, even if people did not refer to it as a New Year’s resolution.

The full phrase is found for the first time in the Jan. 1 issue of a Boston newspaper from 1813, in an article titled “The Friday Lecture”:

And yet, I believe there are multitudes of people, accustomed to receive injunctions of new year resolutions, who will sin all the month of December, with a serious determination of beginning the new year with new resolutions and new behaviour, and with the full belief that they shall thus expiate and wipe away all their former faults.

This writing indicates that resolutions were made to excuse misbehavior throughout the end of the year, and that the new year indicates a new start. And one thing hasn’t changed: People failed to keep their resolutions then just as much as we do today.

But that doesn’t mean we should not keep trying.

Business owner is using laptop

Five New Year’s Resolution Ideas for Restaurant Owners and Managers

We’ve developed a list of potential resolutions specific to those who work in restaurants. Some are easily attainable, some are a little more ambitious, but each one will make you feel better about accomplishing something great in the new year, for yourself and your restaurant.

Design a New Menu

Designing a new menu is a small, yet impactful change that you can make to your restaurant that will impress your guests. Giving your menu a facelift might seem like a daunting task, but with Upserve’s Smart Menu Builder, you can build and design a menu using psychology using data-driven tactics to increase sales and keep your customers coming back for more.

Create a Marketing Plan

Marketing is often an afterthought for restaurants. We know that your incredible food and impeccable service should be enough to draw in hungry customers and keep them coming back, but a little extra love won’t hurt. By creating a marketing plan with the right mix of digital and traditional marketing tactics to reach your specific target audience, you’ll feel more love from your customers and see more people walk through your doors.

If you already have a marketing plan in place, great! Take another look at your tactics, see what your other industry leaders are doing, and implement a new strategy or two to keep your customers engaged throughout the new year.

Develop a Training Program

After you’ve gone through the process of hiring restaurant employees, the next problem restaurants face is turnover. Employees in the restaurant industry come and go, but with the right training strategy, poor retention will be a thing of the past. Education, demonstration, and shadowing are key components to a well-developed training program.

Develop your own unique program with help from our Restaurant Staff Management Guide.

If you already train your staff with a solid program, ask your employees how they felt about the training and what they’ve learned since the beginning. Take their views into consideration and tweak areas of your training program to improve it for your next batch of new faces.

Open a New Location

Want to break out of your comfort zone? Consider expansion. Whether you’re a food truck that’s interested in opening a brick-and-mortar location, a cafe that has dreams of growing into a full-service restaurant, or an established spot that could expand its footprint, expansion is a great goal if you have the bandwidth. Becoming a restaurant owner is an undertaking in its own right, but figuring out how to take the next step can be just as difficult. Check out our tips for restaurant business expansion to find out if 2019 is going to be your year.

Take a Vacation

A vacation? In the restaurant industry? I know it sounds unheard of, but the restaurant industry is notorious for a lack of time off. Put aside time for yourself, your family, and your friends this year and plan to take a trip to prevent inevitable burnout. If you can’t bear to completely detach yourself from work for a week, the Upserve Live mobile app can help you check in on your restaurant from anywhere in the world.  

Restaurant manager checking food quality in the kitchen

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

New habits can be hard to keep, so it’s important to make goals that you can stick to. As with any goals you make in your personal or professional life, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, or SMART. The SMART goal framework ensures that you’re not setting yourself up for failure with a resolution that isn’t attainable for you or your business.


Lack of clarity around a resolution can be a contributing factor to its success. Making a concrete goal is imperative, rather than vaguely saying, “I want to make more money.” You want to have a clear goal, such as growing sales by 10 percent.   


It’s important to have measurable goals, so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress will help you to stay focused, meet deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your resolution.  


Being realistic is crucial to the success of a resolution. If you establish a goal to open five additional locations, but your finances won’t allow for it, you might find yourself disappointed by the end of the year. Setting a goal that’s attainable is imperative to giving yourself a chance at achieving it.


If you find yourself trying to keep up with your competitors when making goals, stop right there. Your resolution should be right for you, your employees, and your business. If you’re making a resolution for the wrong reasons, you’ll face an unmet goal before the end of January.


Like “achievable,” the timeline of your goal should be realistic, too. That means giving yourself enough time to do it. If your goal seems like too big of a leap to take, try breaking it out into smaller, more realistic steps that will help you get there. Focusing on small wins can help you make consistent, gradual progress.

How can you train and retain your restaurant staff? Learn everything from training to compensation to engagement with this comprehensive guide.

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Written by   |  
Holly Everett is a five-year restaurant industry veteran turned small business marketing specialist. After working at Seven Stars Bakery in Providence, Rhode Island throughout college, she entered the world of marketing where she led B2B marketing initiatives at companies focusing on growing small businesses.