B&N’s New Restaurant Bookstores Have a Better Chance of Survival Than You’d Think

The buzz going around concerning B&N’s venture into restaurants is that venture is doomed. 90% of restaurants fail in the first year, as everyone knows, and that means that the B&N restaurant that just opened in Dallas (with 17,000 books on its shelves) was doomed before it started.

It turns out that in this case “what everyone knows” is wrong.

From Dallas Morning News:

Barnes & Noble is opening its first newer and smaller format store in Texas on Tuesday with a full-service bar and restaurant as the dominant feature.

Books are definitely not an afterthought, but Barnes & Noble Kitchen is as much as a destination for something to eat as it is food for thought.

The largest U.S. bookstore chain selected Plano’s Legacy West as the site of the new format, the fourth of its kind among the chain’s 633 stores in 50 states.

The 10,000-square-foot store’s restaurant includes seating for 178 — indoors and on a patio — and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Local craft beers are on tap, and there’s a community worktable with outlets and table service.

The thing about restaurants’ reputed failure rate is that it’s actually a lot lower than what everyone thinks.

According to Forbes, larger restaurants fail less often than startups in other service industries:

What they find is that only 17% of restaurants close in the first year, not 90%. This is in fact a lower failure rate than other service providing businesses, where 19% fail in the first year. For comparison, they find that 21% of offices of real estate agents and brokers fail in the first year, and the number is 19% for both landscapers and automotive repair. The failure rate for full-service restaurants is the same as the failure rate for insurance agencies and brokerages.

Part of restaurants reputation may be due to smaller startups, which fail more often. Restaurants with 20 or fewer employees fail more often than other service business, but those with 21 or more employees have a median lifespan that is 9 months longer than other businesses of the same size.

While w don’t know whether B&N’s restaurants slash bookstores will thrive, their failure is not a foregone conclusion.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Liz8 November, 2017

    Fast casual dining is a growing segment in restaurants so if they have good food and a good atmosphere, they just might be on to something.

  2. Tom Wood8 November, 2017

    This looks like a great format. Maybe they could build e-readers into the surface of the restaurant tables so people could read as they dine, without risk of ruining the books with spaghetti sauce!

  3. BDR8 November, 2017

    If anyone can fail in a business venture, it is B&N. Never give them the benefit of the doubt; those people are idiots.

    1. Nate Hoffelder8 November, 2017

      TBH my original title said that the store had a better shot than the rest of B&N. And I really think it does.

      If I were investing in this niche I would certainly buy the concept restaurants from B&N’s bankruptcy administrators.

    2. Frank8 November, 2017

      It is good B%N is working with others. Barnes & Noble Kitchen partners with AvroKO and The Branstetter Group, companies that have made successful restuarants.

  4. randy lea8 November, 2017

    The best bookstore in the world is Powell’s in Portland, OR. They have a full coffee shop with food. Amazon doesn’t compete in this market, yet.

  5. Peter Turner8 November, 2017

    I think we have to separate two threads here. The first is question of what is good for B&N so they survive to continue to be the leading physical retailer of books. The other is the question of hos thi

  6. Peter Turner8 November, 2017

    The other is the question of whether this strategy will help them sell more books.

  7. Felipe Adan Lerma9 November, 2017

    Few years ago, visiting with my wife & her family in Vermont, we had an extended coffee-pastry break at the B&N in Burlington and it was great! I asked the counter girl if they might ever start serving breakfast stuff and she said the company was thinking about stuff like that, so looks like they’ve taken it forward in a big way. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna work really well here in Austin.


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