How Publishing a Cookbook Leads to Restaurant Success

Restaurants publish cookbook and find marketing success
Restaurants publish cookbook and find marketing success Image Used with Permission

Some operators find that publishing a restaurant cookbook is an effective marketing tool to build their brand and raise chef awareness. Such was the case for Mario’s Italian Steakhouse and Catering in Rochester, New York. The restaurant’s cookbook is like a 212-page business card, says co-owner Anthony Daniele. The restaurant has published two namesake cookbooks, and though “everyone knows our restaurant, the books build credibility. They legitimize our career and the work we’ve put into our restaurants.”

Similarly, Jasper Mirabile, Jr., co-owner of Jasper’s Restaurant Group, Kansas City, Missouri, was asked to do cookbook dinners and signings within the first week of the 2003 release of his self-published The Jasper’s Cookbook. “We didn’t even plan on that. And we never had a marketing company,” he says. Guest speaking and chef demos became regular events. From there, he was chosen to develop recipes for and represent Wisconsin cheese for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Soon, other food companies contacted him to develop recipes and represent them.

Jasper’s regularly sells its book from the dessert cart, and one day a representative from Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City, Missouri, dined at Jasper’s, noticed the book, and expressed interest in publishing another cookbook for him. The resulting Jasper’s Kitchen Cookbook was released mid-recession in 2009, and was met with much local press, which brought in more customers.  

When we came up for air in February, we noticed that for the [preceding] four-month period, [restaurant] sales were up more than 15 percent over the previous year, and business has not slowed down since,” he says.

Mirabile realizes the serendipity of having a publisher approach him about publishing his second book. For others, he recommends self-publishing, simply because it’s difficult to get a national publisher’s attention.  

For one year, Jasper’s cut back on its marketing efforts and used that money to publish the first book—ironically receiving more publicity from the book than it might have from other marketing efforts.

Mario’s Italian Steakhouse also self-published its cookbooks using a local printer, Phoenix Graphics, that specializes in printing cookbooks. The company also helped with the design and layout, Daniele says.

The average cookbook sells 5,000 to 8,000 copies, says Carlyn Berghoff, CEO of Berghoff Catering and Restaurant Group, Chicago. She has written three cookbooks, including the first released in 2007, The Berghoff Family Cookbook. In about three years, it sold nearly 100,000 copies.

Berghoff credits much of the success to the book quality, including full-color photos, and the fact that she went with traditional publisher Andrews McMeel Publishing. While the publisher did its job securing national media coverage for the book, Berghoff also hired a local public relations agency to handle publicity in the local market for 90 days. Between the two, publicity landed book coverage in the food and travel sections of newspapers and on local television stations.


News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.


ERRORS IN THIS ARTICLE: We were not consulted about the content of this article, other than getting a note from the writer asking where we were located. We specifically asked her what she was working on and offered to help her with the piece, and she simply repeated in writing, she only wanted to know where we were located. Had this reporter bothered to tell us what she was working on, we would have saved her from looking foolish in print because we had nothing to do with the Mirabile cookbook. We did not approach Mirabile and had never heard of them until we read this article. As a book publisher, we are obsessive about making sure we fact check everything before it goes to print. It is disappointing to find reporters who don't. I don't have any idea who approached Mirabile, but it wasn't our firm, Whitehall Publishing in Yellville, Arkansas. I wish Mirabile all the best and I feel badly for whomever you worked with who was not given credit for the work they did.

Due to a misunderstanding, I referred to Whitehall Publishing Co. as the publisher of The Jasper’s Cookbook, which in fact was printed by an unrelated company, Whitehall Printing Co. I apologize for the mistake. The inaccurate reference has been removed from the article.


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