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How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

Sally Lauckner

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

When starting a business—no matter what type of business that may be—a business plan is essential to map out your intentions and direction. That’s the same for a restaurant business plan, which will help you figure out where you fit in the landscape, how you’re going to differ from other establishments around you, how you’ll market your business, and even what you’re going to serve. A business plan for your restaurant can also help you later if you choose to apply for a business loan .

While opening a restaurant isn’t as risky as you’ve likely heard, you still want to ensure that you’re putting thought and research into your business venture to set it up for success. And that’s where a restaurant business plan comes in.

We’ll go through how to create a business plan for a restaurant and a few reasons why it’s so important. After you review the categories and the restaurant business plan examples, you can use the categories to make a restaurant business plan template and start your journey.

Why you shouldn’t skip a restaurant business plan

First-time restaurateurs and industry veterans alike all need to create a business plan when opening a new restaurant . That’s because, even if you deeply understand your business and its nuances (say, seasonal menu planning or how to order correct quantities), a restaurant is more than its operations. There’s marketing, financing, the competitive landscape, and more—and each of these things is unique to each door you open.

That’s why it’s so crucial to understand how to create a business plan for a restaurant. All of these things and more will be addressed in the document—which should run about 20 or 30 pages—so you’ll not only have a go-to-market strategy, but you’ll also likely figure out some things about your business that you haven’t even thought of yet.

Additionally, if you’re planning to apply for business funding down the line, some loans—including the highly desirable SBA loan —actually require you to submit your business plan to gain approval. In other words: Don’t skip this step!

How to write a restaurant business plan: Step by step

There’s no absolute format for a restaurant business plan that you can’t stray from—some of these sections might be more important than others, for example, or you might find that there’s a logical order that makes more sense than the one in the restaurant business plan example below. However, this business plan outline will serve as a good foundation, and you can use it as a restaurant business plan template for when you write your own.

Executive summary

Your executive summary is one to two pages that kick off your business plan and explain your vision. Even though this might seem like an introduction that no one will read, that isn’t the case. In fact, some investors only ask for the executive summary. So, you’ll want to spend a lot of time perfecting it.

Your restaurant business plan executive summary should include information on:

Mission statement: Your goals and objectives

General company information: Include your founding date, team roles (i.e. executive chef, sous chefs, sommeliers), and locations

Category and offerings: What category your restaurant fits into, what you’re planning to serve (i.e. farm-to-table or Korean), and why

Context for success: Any past success you’ve had, or any current financial data that’ll support that you are on the path to success

Financial requests: If you’re searching for investment or financing, include your plans and goals here and any financing you’ve raised or borrowed thus far

Future plans: Your vision for where you’re going in the next year, three years, and five years

When you’re done with your executive summary, you should feel like you’ve provided a bird’s eye view of your entire business plan. In fact, even though this section is first, you will likely write it last so you can take the highlights from each of the subsequent sections.

And once you’re done, read it on its own: Does it give a comprehensive, high-level overview of your restaurant, its current state, and your vision for the future? Remember, this may be the only part of your business plan potential investors or partners will read, so it should be able to stand on its own and be interesting enough to make them want to read the rest of your plan.

Company overview

This is where you’ll dive into the specifics of your company, detailing the kind of restaurant you’re looking to create, who’s helping you do it, and how you’re prepared to accomplish it.

Your restaurant business plan company overview should include:

Purpose: The type of restaurant you’re opening (fine dining, fast-casual, pop-up, etc.), type of food you’re serving, goals you have, and the niche you hope to fill in the market

Area: Information on the area in which you’re opening

Customers: Whom you’re hoping to target, their demographic information

Legal structure: Your business entity (i.e. LLC, LLP, etc.) and how many owners you have

Similar to your executive summary, you won’t be going into major detail here as the sections below will get into the nitty-gritty. You’ll want to look at this as an extended tear sheet that gives someone a good grip on your restaurant or concept, where it fits into the market, and why you’re starting it.

Team and management

Barely anything is as important for a restaurant as the team that runs it. You’ll want to create a section dedicated to the members of your staff—even the ones that aren’t yet hired. This will provide a sense of who is taking care of what, and how you need to structure and build out the team to get your restaurant operating at full steam.

Your restaurant business plan team and management section should have:

Management overview: Who is running the restaurant, what their experience and qualifications are, and what duties they’ll be responsible for

Staff: Other employees you’ve brought on and their bios, as well as other spots you anticipate needing to hire for

Ownership percentage: Which individuals own what percentage of the restaurant, or if you are an employee-owned establishment

Be sure to update this section with more information as your business changes and you continue to share this business plan—especially because who is on your team will change both your business and the way people look at it.

Sample menu

You’ll also want to include a sample menu in your restaurant business plan so readers have a sense of what they can expect from your operations, as well as what your diners can expect from you when they sit down. This will also force you to consider exactly what you want to serve your diners and how your menu will stand out from similar restaurants in the area. Although a sample menu is in some ways self-explanatory, consider the following:

Service : If your brunch is as important as your dinner, provide both menus; you also might want to consider including both a-la-carte and prix fixe menus if you plan to offer them.

Beverage/wine service: If you’ll have an emphasis on specialty beverages or wine, a separate drinks list could be important.

Seasonality: If you’re a highly seasonal restaurant, you might want to consider providing menus for multiple seasons to demonstrate how your dishes (and subsequent purchasing) will change.

Market analysis

This is where you’ll begin to dive deeper. Although you’ve likely mentioned your market and the whitespace you hope to address, the market analysis section will enable you to prove your hypotheses.

Your restaurant business plan market analysis should include:

Industry information: Include a description of the restaurant industry, its size, growth trends, and other trends regarding things such as tastes, trends, demographics, structures, etc.

Target market: Zoom in on the area and neighborhood in which you’re opening your restaurant as well as the type of cuisine you’re serving.

Target market characteristics: Describe your customers and their needs, how/if their needs are currently being served, other important pieces about your specific location and customers.

Target market size and growth: Include a data-driven section on the size of your market, trends in its growth, how your target market fits into the industry as a whole, projected growth of your market, etc.

Market share potential: Share how much potential there is in the market, how much your presence will change the market, and how much your specific restaurant or restaurant locations can own of the open market; also touch on any barriers to growth or entry you might see.

Market pricing: Explain how you’ll be pricing your menu and where you’ll fall relative to your competitors or other restaurants in the market.

Competitive research: Include research on your closest competitors, how they are both succeeding and failing, how customers view them, etc.

If this section seems like it might be long, it should—it’s going to outline one of the most important parts of your strategy, and should feel comprehensive. Lack of demand is the number one reason why new businesses fail, so the goal of this section should be to prove that there is demand for your restaurant and show how you’ll capitalize on it.

Additionally, if market research isn’t your forte, don’t be shy to reach out to market research experts to help you compile the data, or at least read deeply on how to conduct effective research.

Marketing and sales

Your marketing and sales section should feel like a logical extension of your market analysis section, since all of the decisions you’ll make in this section should follow the data of the prior section.

The marketing and sales sections of your restaurant business plan should include:

Positioning: How you’ll describe your restaurant to potential customers, the brand identity and visuals you’ll use to do it, and how you’ll stand out in the market based on the brand you’re building

Promotion: The tools, tactics, and platforms you’ll use to market your business

Sales: How you’ll convert on certain items, and who/how you will facilitate any additional revenue streams (i.e. catering)

It’s likely that you’ll only have concepts for some of these elements, especially if you’re not yet open. Still, get to paper all of the ideas you have, and you can (and should) always update them later as your restaurant business becomes more fully formed.

Business operations

The business operations section should get to the heart of how you plan to run your business. It will highlight both internal factors as well as external forces that will dictate how you run the ship.

The business operations section should include:

Management team: Your management structure and hierarchy, and who is responsible for what

Hours: Your hours and days of operation

Location: What’s special about your location that will get people through the door

Relationships: Any advantageous relationships you have with fellow restaurateurs, places for sourcing and buying, business organizations, or consultants on your team

Add here anything you think could be helpful for illustrating how you’re going to do business and what will affect it.

Here, you’ll detail the current state of your business finances and project where you hope to be in a year, three years, and five years. You’ll want to detail what you’ve spent, what you will spend, where you’ll get the money, costs you might incur, and returns you’ll hope to see—including when you can expect to break even and turn a profit.

Financial statements: If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, include existing financial statements (i.e. profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow, etc.)

Budget: Your current budget or a general startup budget

Projections: Include revenue, cash flow, projected profit and loss, and other costs

Debt: Include liabilities if the business has any outstanding debt or loans

Funding request: If you’re requesting a loan or an investment, lay out how much capital you’re looking for, your company’s valuation (if applicable), and the purpose of the funding

Above all, as you’re putting your financials together, be realistic—even conservative. You want to give any potential investors a realistic picture of your business.

Feel like there are other important components but they don't quite fit in any of the other categories (or make them run too long)? That’s what the restaurant business plan appendix section is for. And although in, say, a book, an appendix can feel like an afterthought, don’t ignore it—this is another opportunity for you to include crucial information that can give anyone reading your plan some context. You may include additional data, graphs, marketing collateral (like logo mockups), and more.

The bottom line

Whether you’re writing a restaurant business plan for investors, lenders, or simply for yourself and your team, the most important thing to do is make sure your document is comprehensive. A good business plan for a restaurant will take time—and maybe a little sweat—to complete fully and correctly.

One other crucial thing to remember: a business plan is not a document set in stone. You should often look to it to make sure you’re keeping your vision and mission on track, but you should also feel prepared to update its components as you learn more about your business and individual restaurant.

This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

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How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan in 2023 (Step by Step Guide with Templates)

Saif Alnasur

Jan 31, 2023 6:30:00 AM

Have you decided to open a restaurant? Has it been something you've thought of doing for years and are finally in a position to make it happen?

Regardless of how much time you've spent conceptualizing your idea and researching the industry, without proper planning, your restaurant is doomed for failure.

That's where a restaurant business plan comes in. A restaurant business plan is a framework that guides you to plan and forecast every element of restaurant management and operations; from menu design, location, financials, employee training, and a lot more, and helps develop your restaurant ideas into a reality.

Read on for everything you need to know about writing a restaurant business plan along with samples and tips.

creating a restaurant business plan

Why is a Restaurant Business Plan Important?

Many new restauranteurs fail to put together a well-thought-out restaurant business plan because the process can be a bit difficult and time-consuming. But without a proper restaurant business plan, you're shooting in the dark without an aim. It's unlikely that you would be able to secure an investor to help fund your restaurant dream without a proper plan. And even if you do, the lack of proper planning, regulations, and forecasts will set your restaurant up for failure. 

Your restaurant business plan is what is going to map out how you plan on turning a profit from your business as well as where your restaurant fits into the saturated market and how you plan on standing out.

A little time and pain early on are worth the reward of a successful restaurant in the long run.

11 key steps a restaurant business plan should include

A good business plan varies from restaurant to restaurant and takes into account factors like style of restaurant, target market, location, etc. If you're new to the restaurant game, the idea of creating a business plan can be daunting. To help you get started, we have highlighted the key elements you need to include when writing a restaurant business plan. 

Depending on who you are presenting your business plan to, you can change the order of the sections to reflect priority.

Here are the main components of a restaurant business plan

1. Executive Summary

A restaurant business plan should always begin with an executive summary. An executive summary not only acts as the introduction to your business plan but also a summary of the entire idea.

The main aim of an executive summary is to draw the reader (oftentimes an investor) into the rest of your business plan.

Common elements of an executive summary include:

An executive summary is imperative for those looking to get investors to fund their projects. Instead of having to comb through the entire restaurant business plan to get all the information, they can instead just look through the executive summary.

2. Company Description

This is the part of the restaurant business plan where you fully introduce the company. Start this section with the name of the restaurant you are opening along with the location, contacts, and other relevant information. Also include the owner’s details and a brief description of their experience.

The second part of the company description should highlight the legal standing of the restaurant and outline the restaurant’s short and long-term goals. Provide a brief market study showing that you understand the trends in the regional food industry and why the restaurant will succeed in this market.

3. Market Analysis

The market analysis portion of the restaurant business plan is typically divided into three parts.

3.1 Industry Analysis

What is your target market? What demographics will your restaurant cater to? This section aims to explain your target market to investors and why you believe guests will choose your restaurant over others.

3.2 Competition Analysis

It's easy to assume that everyone will visit your restaurant, so it is important to research your competition to make this a reality. What restaurants have already established a customer base in the area? Take note of everything from their prices, hours, and menu design to the restaurant interior.  Then explain to your investors how your restaurant will be different.

3.3 Marketing Analysis

Your investors are going to want to know how you plan to market your restaurant. How will your marketing campaigns differ from what is already being done by others? How do you plan on securing your target market? What kind of offers will you provide your guests? Make sure to list everything.

The most important element to launching your restaurant is the menu . Without it, your restaurant has nothing to serve. At this point, you probably don’t have a final version, but for a restaurant business plan, you should at least try to have a mock-up.

Add your logo to the mock-up and choose a design that you can see yourself actually using. If you are having trouble coming up with a menu design or don’t want to pay a designer, there are plenty of resources online to help.

The key element of your sample menu though should be pricing. Your prices should reflect the cost analysis you’ve done for investors. This will give them a better understanding of your restaurant’s target price point. You'll quickly see how important menu engineering can be, even early on.

5. Employees

The company description section of the restaurant business plan briefly introduces the owners of the restaurant with some information about each. This section should fully flesh out the restaurant management team.

The investors don’t expect you to have your entire team selected at this point, but you should at least have a couple of people on board. Use the talent you have chosen thus far to highlight the combined work experience everyone is bringing to the table.

Free Restaurant Business Plan Template The only business plan you'll ever need. Download now

6. Restaurant Design

The design portion of your restaurant business plan is where you can really show off your thoughts and ideas to the investors. If you don’t have professional mock-ups of your restaurant rendered, that’s fine. Instead, put together a mood board to get your vision across. Find pictures of a similar aesthetic to what you are looking for in your restaurant.

The restaurant design extends beyond aesthetics alone and should include everything from restaurant software to kitchen equipment. 

7. Location

The location you end up choosing for your restaurant should definitely be in line with your target market. At this point, you might not have a precise location set aside, but you should have a few to choose from.

When describing potential locations to your investors, you want to include as much information as possible about each one and why it would be perfect for your restaurant. Mention everything from square footage to typical demographics.

8. Market Overview

The market overview section is heavily related to the market analysis portion of the restaurant business plan. In this section, go into detail about both the micro and macro conditions in the area you want to set up your restaurant.

Discuss the current economic conditions that could make opening a restaurant difficult, and how you aim to counteract that. Mention all the restaurants that could prove to be competition and what your strategy is to set yourself apart.

9. Marketing

With restaurants opening left and ride nowadays, investors are going to want to know how you will get word of your restaurant to the world. The marketing and publicity section should go into detail on how you plan to market your restaurant before and after opening. As well as any plans you may have to bring a PR company on board to help spread the word.

Read more: How to write a restaurant marketing plan from scratch

10. External Help

To make your restaurant a reality, you are going to need a lot of help. List any external companies or software you plan on hiring to get your restaurant up and running. This includes everything from accountants and designers to suppliers that help your restaurant perform better, like POS systems and restaurant reservation systems . Explain to your investors the importance of each and what they will be doing for your restaurant.

11. Financial Analysis

The most important part of your restaurant business plan is the financial section . We would recommend hiring professional help for this given its importance. Hiring a trained accountant will not only help you get your financial estimates in order but also give you a realistic insight into owning a restaurant.

You should have some information prepared to make this step easier on the accountant.  He/she will want to know how many seats your restaurant has, what the check average per table will be, and how many guests you plan on seating per day.

In addition to this, doing rough food cost calculations for various menu items can help estimate your profit margin per dish. This can be achieved easily with a free food cost calculator. 

Restaurant Business Plan Template

Ready to get started? Download our free restaurant business plan template to guide you through the process.

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fork and pencil

How to Open a Restaurant

Owning and operating a restaurant is a dream job for many aspiring entrepreneurs. It's a dream that may have been put on hold as the pandemic forced restaurants to halt indoor dining or even close their doors permanently. The effects of the coronavirus are still being felt by restaurant owners across the country as the industry struggles to right itself. To weather the crisis, the foodservice landscape has adopted new restaurant trends and diversified revenue streams to meet the present challenge. Many believe that restaurant ownership is still within reach, and we've created a restaurant startup checklist to get you started.

How To Start a Restaurant

Starting a restaurant requires some careful planning and is a more manageable feat when broken down into steps. If you're curious about how to open a restaurant, we've created an 11-step guide to navigate you through the process.

1. Choose a Restaurant Concept and Brand

restaurant setup with wooden tables and hanging lights before opening day

If you've been dreaming of opening your own restaurant, you've probably thought a great deal about your restaurant concept. Choosing the concept of your business is the fun part of the restaurant planning process, when you get to let your imagination run wild. Your concept should include the type of restaurant you want to open, the style of cuisine you'll serve, and the service style you'll use. The interior of your restaurant should also be in line with your concept. Here are some examples of restaurant concepts to spark your creativity:

Your restaurant brand is more specific and can be thought of as the way you choose to communicate your mission and identity to the public. Your restaurant name , logo, menu design, and merchandise should all present a cohesive image of your brand. The advertising channels you use should also rely heavily on your brand identity to influence the style and method.

Target Demographic

If you already have a location in mind for your business, the demographic of the area should be used to shape your concept. If you're beginning with the concept first, you must choose a location with a demographic that can support it.

2. Create Your Menu

menu on board with silverware and salt and pepper shakers

Building out your menu is the next creative step in the process of opening your restaurant. Choosing which menu items to feature should be enjoyable for any food lover, but make your decisions carefully. Your menu will dictate the type of equipment you'll need, the skills you should look for in your staff, and the type of crowd you hope to attract. For instance, if you envision a dessert menu full of delicate French pastries, you'll need a pastry chef and the supplies to match. If pizza is your thing, you'll need dough mixers, proofers, and experienced chefs who know how to handle pizza dough.

Also consider your demographic. If you get a great deal on leasing a space in a college town, your restaurant menu should be tailored to college-age customers. But if you won't budge on your dream to create an upscale menu, you must choose a location where the median personal income can support higher price points. When you finalize your menu choices, use our guide to menu design and our resource for pricing a menu to create an attractive, profitable menu.

3. Write a Restaurant Business Plan

Starting a restaurant, like any new business, requires a solid business plan. This is the step that may become a stumbling block for those unfamiliar with business plans and how they are written. Restaurant business plans are divided into sections that describe all the aspects of your new business, from your restaurant concept to your financials. The purpose of the plan is to help you flesh out the finer details and summarize your business to potential investors. When you reach out for restaurant loans, the restaurant business plan serves as the proof that your venture will be successful.

business plan concept on clip board with pencil

Below are the principle components of a restaurant business plan:

4. Obtain Restaurant Funding

pen on orange bar graph predicting finances to open a restaurant

The next step needed to start your new restaurant is to obtain funding. Most of us don't have enough capital on hand to cover the cost of opening a restaurant without financial assistance. Securing funding from outside sources will determine if you can make your dream of restaurant ownership a reality.

Begin by estimating total restaurant startup costs along with the cost needed for daily operations. Use this information to create a budget and forecast the total cost of running your restaurant for the next year.

With your restaurant budget now in hand, compare the total cost to the amount of capital you have on hand to determine how much funding you will need. Remember to include the costs of licenses, equipment, building repairs, and staff salaries. Here are a few ways to secure funding for your new restaurant:

For more detailed information, see our restaurant funding and loans guide .

5. Choose a Location and Lease a Commercial Space

vacant retail building with for lease real estate sign

When choosing a location for your new restaurant, the following factors are among the most important:

When it comes to choosing a space, we recommend leasing. It allows you more flexibility if you decide to expand or make other business changes when first starting out.

6. Restaurant Permits and Licenses

permits on ring binder blurred toned image

To start a new restaurant, you'll need to obtain several federal, state, and local permits and licenses . It's helpful to enlist legal counsel when filing for restaurant permits and licenses to make sure you don't miss a step. These are some of the most important licenses required:

7. Design Your Layout and Space

organized restaurant dining room with tables and chairs set up for opening day

There are two components to designing the layout of your new restaurant: your front-of-house space and your back-of-house space. Each space has its own unique requirements. If you need assistance, consider working with an industry expert to create a custom design layout that meets your needs.

Keep these factors in mind when designing your dining room layout :

When designing your kitchen layout , consider the flow of service and allocate sufficient space for the following tasks:

8. Find an Equipment and Food Supplier

chef opens avantco refrigeration stainless steel refrigerator

Before you can open your new restaurant, your kitchen must be outfitted with the right equipment. There are some types of equipment that every restaurant needs , like refrigeration units and cooking equipment. Depending on your menu, you might also need specialized equipment like pizza deck ovens or pasta cookers. The size and layout of your kitchen will affect some of your choices, like whether to choose narrow-depth equipment or to double stack units to save space. Another consideration is deciding whether to buy new or used restaurant equipment .

Buying your restaurant equipment online provides many benefits. While you're juggling the other steps of opening your new restaurant, the ability to shop online, research features, and compare prices on your own time alleviates some of the stress. Look for an online supplier that specializes in commercial restaurant equipment with wholesale prices and fast shipping. Leasing equipment is an option that can save you money and free up capital for other items in your budget.

You'll also need to find a supplier for food, disposables, and all the items you'll reorder on a regular basis. Working with a supplier that offers free shipping saves you money when you order bulk supplies. Look for added benefits like the Webstaurant Rewards® Visa Business Card , which offers rewards for every WebstaurantStore purchase.

9. Hire the Right Staff

restaurant chefs smiling behind platters of food on table and ready for restaurant opening

The hiring stage of opening your new restaurant provides the opportunity to build a great work culture from the very start. Putting thought into your employee benefits, training program, and incentives is important when considering the work/life balance of your future staff. Your employee retention will be more successful if you make these factors a priority. Start by hiring your management team so they can help carry out your mission and hiring goals.

Make a list of all the restaurant positions you'll need to fill in order to operate your restaurant on a daily basis. Consider how many days you'll be open during the week and how many shifts you'll run each day for the front- and back-of-house.

Your staff requirements will vary based on the unique needs of your new restaurant, but these are some of the most common positions:

You may also need to hire employees like marketing experts, PR specialists, and accountants.

To prepare for the interview process, see our guide on restaurant interview questions , so you can identify the most fitting candidates for your restaurant.

10. Advertise Your Restaurant

google my business connect with your customers app on the display of smartphone or tablet

If you're starting a new restaurant, you have to get the word out and attract your future customers. Advertising provides basic information about your restaurant so that prospective customers know where you're located and what type of cuisine you're serving. Successful advertising should also build excitement around your brand. Below are some tips to market your restaurant:

11. Host a Soft Opening

plates of prepared food for restaurant soft opening

You've heard the old saying, "Practice makes perfect." The same goes for restaurant openings. A soft opening is a practice run to help you prepare for the real grand opening of your new restaurant. Invite a limited number of guests to attend your soft opening, usually the friends and family of your staff. This strategy allows you to work out any kinks in your service. Here are a few popular soft opening ideas:

Despite the challenges of the last year, the restaurant industry will always be an important part of our economy and culture. As foodservice trends continue to diversify, space opens up for extraordinary new eateries to step in and take advantage of new consumer interests. Use our restaurant opening guide to help with the successful execution of your unique restaurant concept.

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How to Start a Donut Shop

Donut shops are a staple of many people’s morning routine and can be found in towns across the world. Whether you’re stopping in for a midday snack or grabbing your morning coffee, donut shops are a quick and convenient way to grab food and drinks on the go. Studies have shown that of all the treats we buy, donuts are the most popular baked good in the United States . Shop All Donut Shop Equipment Continue reading to learn all about the process of opening your donut shop. Click any of the tips below to read the section that interests you: Create a Business Plan Investigate Buying a Donut Shop Franchise Determine the Cost of Opening a Donut Shop Obtain Funding for Your Donut Shop Invest in Donut Making Equipment Create a Donut Shop Menu Star

creating a restaurant business plan

How to Open a Bar

Have you been dreaming of opening your own bar but you’re not quite sure where to start? You’ve probably thought about your concept and your name, but maybe you’re unsure about some of the finer details, like how to obtain funding and permits. Running a successful bar can be lucrative and rewarding, as long as you perform some careful research and follow the correct steps. We outline the process of starting your own bar, from the initial concept to your grand opening, so you can fulfill your dream of becoming a bar owner. Shop All Bar Supplies How to Open a Bar Opening a bar requires some initial research and planning. You can make sure that you're covering all the bases by following our bar opening checklist below. Click on any of the step

creating a restaurant business plan

How to Start a Brewery

Breweries are popular with a variety of customers, whether they're a casual beer drinker, a craft beer enthusiast, or just looking for a place to spend Friday night. As the demand and popularity of beer continues to rise, so does the interest in new breweries. If you’re considering opening a brewery of your own, we’ve compiled a list of steps and tips to help guide you through the process and successfully open your own business. Shop All Brewery Equipment Click any of the tips below to read the section that interests you: Write a Brewery Business Plan Choose a Brewery Concept Determine the Cost of Starting a Brewery Secure Brewery Funding Apply for Permits and Licenses Choose a Brewery Location Buy Brewery Equipment Create a Draft List and

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Restaurant Business Plan

Restaurant Business Plan: What To Include, Plus 8 Examples

Do you want to ensure the success of your new foodservice endeavor? Write a restaurant business plan.

In this article, the experts at Sling tell you why a business plan is vital for both new and existing businesses and give you tips on what to include.

Table Of Contents

What Is A Restaurant Business Plan?

Why is a restaurant business plan important, questions to ask first, what to include in an effective restaurant business plan, how to format a restaurant business plan, efficient workforce management is essential for success.

Man looking at charts on a wall for his restaurant business plan

At its most basic, a restaurant business plan is a written document that describes your restaurant’s goals and the steps you will take to make those goals a reality.

This business plan also describes the nature of the business itself, financial projections, background information, and organizational strategies  that govern the day-to-day activity of your restaurant.

Empty fine-dining restaurant

A restaurant business plan is vital for the success of your endeavor because, without one, it is very difficult — sometimes even impossible — to obtain funding from an investor or a bank.

Without that all-important starting or operational capital, you may not be able to keep your doors open for long, if at all.

Even if funding isn’t a primary concern, a business plan provides you — the business owner or manager — with clear direction on how to translate general strategies into actionable plans  for reaching your goals.

The plan can help solidify everything from the boots-on-the-ground functional strategy  to the mid-level business strategy  all the way up to the driving-force corporate strategy .

Think of this plan as a roadmap that guides your way when things are going smoothly and, more importantly, when they aren’t.

If you want to give your restaurant the best chance for success, start by writing a business plan.

Man on laptop writing a restaurant business plan

Sitting down to write a restaurant business plan can be a daunting task.

As you’ll see in the What To Include In An Effective Restaurant Business Plan section below, you’ll need a lot of information and detail to ensure that the final document is both complete and effective.

Instead of starting with word one, it is hugely beneficial to answer a number of general questions first.

These questions will help you narrow down the information to include in your plan so the composition process feels less difficult.

The questions are:

Depending on your business, some of these questions may not apply or you may not have applicable answers.

Nevertheless, it helps to think about, and try to provide details for, the whole list so your finished restaurant business plan is as complete as possible.

Once you’ve answered the questions for your business, you can transfer a large portion of that information to the business plan itself.

We’ll discuss exactly what to include in the next section.

Man mapping out a restaurant business plan

In this section, we’ll show you what to include in an effective restaurant business plan and provide a brief example of each component.

1) Executive Summary

You should always start any business plan with an executive summary. This gives the reader a brief introduction into common elements, such as:

This portion of your plan should pique the reader’s interest and make them want to read more.

Fanty & Mingo’s is a 50-seat fine-dining restaurant that will focus on Sweruvian (Swedish/Peruvian) fusion fare.

We will keep overhead and labor costs low thanks to simple but elegant decor , highly skilled food-prep staff, and well-trained servers.

Because of the location and surrounding booming economy, we estimate ROI at 20 percent per annum.

2) Mission Statement

A mission statement is a short description of what your business does for its customers, employees, and owners.

This is in contrast to your business’s vision statement which is a declaration of objectives that guide internal decision-making.

While the two are closely related and can be hard to distinguish, it often helps to think in terms of who, what, why, and where.

The vision statement is the where of your business — where you want your business to be and where you want your customers and community to be as a result.

The mission statement is the who , what , and why of your business — it’s an action plan that makes the vision statement a reality

Here’s an example of a mission statement for our fictional company:

Fanty and Mingo’s takes pride in making the best Sweruvian food, providing fast, friendly, and accurate service. It is our goal to be the employer of choice and offer team members opportunities for growth, advancement, and a rewarding career in a fun and safe working environment.

3) Company Description

Taking notes on restaurant business plan

In this section of your restaurant business plan, you fully introduce your company to the reader. Every business’s company description will be different and include its own pertinent information.

Useful details to include are:

Again, you don’t have to include all of this information in your company description. Choose the ones that are most relevant to your business and make the most sense to communicate to your readers.

Fanty & Mingo’s will start out as an LLC, owned and operated by founders Malcolm Reynolds and Zoe Washburne. Mr. Reynolds will serve as managing partner and Ms. Washburne as general manager.

We will combine atmosphere, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and menu variety to create a unique experience for our diners and to reach our goal of high value in the fusion food niche.

Our gross margin is higher than industry average, but we plan to spend more on payroll to attract the best team.

We estimate moderate growth for the first two years while word-of-mouth about our restaurant spreads through the area.

4) Market Analysis

A market analysis is a combination of three different views of the niche you want to enter:

This section should be a brief introduction to these concepts. You can expand on them in other sections of your restaurant business plan.

The restaurant industry in our chosen location is wide open thanks in large part to the revitalization of the city’s center.

A few restaurants have already staked their claim there, but most are bars and non-family-friendly offerings.

Fanty & Mingo’s will focus on both tourist and local restaurant clientele. We want to bring in people that have a desire for delicious food and an exotic atmosphere.

We break down our market into five distinct categories:

We will target those markets to grow our restaurant  by up to 17 percent per year.

restaurant menu board

Every restaurant needs a good menu, and this is the section within your restaurant business plan that you describe the food you’ll serve in as much detail as possible.

You may not have your menu design complete, but you’ll likely have at least a handful of dishes that serve as the foundation of your offerings.

It’s also essential to discuss pricing and how it reflects your overall goals and operating model. This will give potential investors and partners a better understanding of your business’s target price point and profit strategy.

We don’t have room to describe a sample menu in this article, but for more information on menu engineering, menu pricing, and even a menu template, check out these helpful articles from the Sling blog:

6) Location

In this section, describe your potential location (or locations) so that you and your investors have a clear image of what the restaurant will look like.

Include plenty of information about the location — square footage, floor plan , design , demographics of the area, parking, etc. — to make it feel as real as possible.

We will locate Fanty & Mingo’s in the booming and rapidly expanding downtown sector of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Ideally, we will secure at least 2,000 square feet of space with a large, open-plan dining room and rich color scheme near the newly built baseball stadium to capitalize on the pre- and post-game traffic and to appeal to the young urban professionals that live in the area.

Parking will be available along side streets and in the 1,000-vehicle parking garage two blocks away.

7) Marketing

Chef working in a restaurant

The marketing section of your restaurant business plan is where you should elaborate on the information you introduced in the Market Analysis section.

Go into detail about the plans you have to introduce your restaurant to the public and keep it at the top of their mind.

Fanty & Mingo’s will employ three distinct marketing tactics to increase and maintain customer awareness:

We will direct each tactic at a different segment of our potential clientele in order to maximize coverage.

In the process of marketing to our target audience, we will endeavor to harness the reach of direct mail and broadcast media, the exclusivity of the VIP party, and the elegance of a highly trained sommelier and wait staff.

8) Financials

Even though the Financials section is further down in your restaurant business plan, it is one of the most important components for securing investors and bank funding.

We recommend hiring a trained accountant  to help you prepare this section so that it will be as accurate and informative as possible.

Fanty & Mingo’s needs $250,000 of capital investment over the next year and a half for the following:

Projected profit and loss won’t jump drastically in the first year, but, over time, Fanty & Mingo’s will develop its reputation and client base. This will lead to more rapid growth toward the third and fourth years of business.

working on restaurant business plan

Most entrepreneurs starting a new business find it valuable to have multiple formats of their business plan.

The information, data, and details remain the same, but the length and how you present them will change to fit a specific set of circumstances.

Below we discuss the four most common business plan formats to cover a multitude of potential situations.

Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a short summary of your restaurant business plan’s executive summary.

Rather than being packed full of details, the elevator pitch is a quick teaser of sorts that you use on a short elevator ride (hence the name) to stimulate interest in potential customers, partners, and investors

As such, an effective elevator pitch is between 30 and 60 seconds and hits the high points of your restaurant business plan.

A pitch deck is a slide show and oral presentation that is designed to stimulate discussion and motivate interested parties to investigate deeper into your stakeholder plan (more on that below).

Most pitch decks are designed to cover the executive summary and include key graphs that illustrate market trends and benchmarks you used (and will use) to make decisions about your business.

Some entrepreneurs even include time and space in their pitch deck to demonstrate new products coming down the pipeline.

This won’t necessarily apply to a restaurant business plan, but, if logistics permit, you could distribute small samples of your current fare or tasting portions of new dishes you’re developing.

Stakeholder Plan (External)

A stakeholder plan is the standard written presentation that business owners use to describe the details of their business model to customers, partners, and potential investors.

The stakeholder plan can be as long as is necessary to communicate the current and future state of your business, but it must be well-written, well-formatted, and targeted at those looking at your business from the outside in.

Think of your stakeholder plan as a tool to convince others that they should get involved in making your business a reality. Write it in such a way that readers will want to partner with you to help your business grow.

Management Plan (Internal)

A management plan is a form of your restaurant business plan that describes the details that the owners and managers need to make the business run smoothly.

While the stakeholder plan is an external document, the management plan is an internal document.

Most of the details in the management plan will be of little or no interest to external stakeholders so you can write it with a higher degree of candor and informality.

Sling app for managing a restaurant business plan

After you’ve created your restaurant business plan, it’s time to take steps to make it a reality.

One of the biggest challenges in ensuring that your business runs smoothly and successfully is managing  and optimizing  your team. The Sling  app can help.

Sling not only includes powerful and intuitive artificial-intelligence-based scheduling tools but also many other features to help make your workforce management more efficient, including:

Sling's scheduling feature

With Sling, you can schedule faster, communicate better, and organize and manage your work from a single, integrated platform. And when you use Sling for all of your scheduling  needs, you’ll have more time to focus on bringing your restaurant business plan to life.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit  today.

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How to Start a Restaurant

Ready to make your dream of opening a restaurant a reality? This guide offers everything you need to know about starting a successful restaurant!

A checklist for starting a restaurant

Here are 10 steps you should take before you open a restaurant :

1. Define your restaurant concept.

Your restaurant concept should be woven into every aspect of your business, from the food itself to your style of customer service. Your concept should also be reflected in the name of your restaurant, the design of your collateral, and your decor.

2. Create a business plan for your restaurant.

Your business plan should lay out the foundation of your operations. Be sure to include an executive summary, company description, industry analysis, geographic analysis, target market analysis, food safety plan, sample menu, marketing plan, management strategy, and financial plan.

3. Research funding options for your restaurant.

Assess how much it will cost to open your restaurant , as well as operational costs, to determine how to fund your restaurant. There are a number of options to consider, from taking on an investor to applying for a small business loan. Be sure to calculate your break-even point and create a financial analysis as well, to get a better understanding of your predictive cash flow.

4. Obtain licenses and permits needed to open a restaurant.

Aside from the standard business licenses and permits needed to open up shop, there are other licenses you need to get if you run a restaurant, from a liquor license to food handler’s permits that may vary state to state. Be sure to do your research on food safety regulations and create a list of standards you have to adhere to.

5. Register your business.

You need to register your business with the IRS to receive your Employer Identification Number, which you need to file taxes. (You can sign up for one here .) You might think about trademarking your restaurant’s name, too (to stop people from copying you and capitalizing on your restaurant’s success).

6. Select the right location.

A restaurant’s location can make or break it. Visibility and foot traffic are two important factors to consider during the selection process for a commerical space. You also want to evaluate the size and interior shape to decide if it’s the best fit for your restaurant floor plan.

7. Order restaurant equipment.

Restaurant equipment can get pricey so you want to be strategic when selecting what to buy or lease. List out everything that you absolutely need — which depends on your menu — versus what you want, from kitchen equipment to decor for the dining room. You can save money by buying some gently used items. Make decisions based on your budget and your financial analysis.

8. Hire the right staff.

Make a list of how much staff you need to run your front of house and back of house efficiently. Then get to hiring. While you’re doing that, you should also decide if you want to process payroll yourself or use payroll software . Just keep in mind that restaurant payroll can get quite complex, especially with varying state/federal/local laws and regulations around wages and tips.

9. Create a menu.

Your menu is the centerpiece of your restaurant and should reflect your concept and brand. But it’s also a marketing tool that can help convince new customers to try your restaurant. Your descriptions should be concise but appeal to your audience.

10. Create a marketing plan.

Before you open a restaurant, it’s important to develop a marketing plan that drives awareness, brings in new customers, and creates a loyal following. Marketing tactics you might use include everything from social media to hosting a soft opening that drives hype.

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Restaurant industry segments

Recognizing where a restaurant fits in the industry can help you understand the competitive landscape and better strategize your entry to market and your food costs when opening a restaurant. Establishments can be loosely broken down into various segments, from your basic fast food joint to a prestigious three-star Michelin dining experience:

Fast food restaurants , also called quick service restaurants (QSRs), specialize in quick preparation and casual service. Seating is limited since most customers order at the register and take their food to go.

Fast-casual establishments mirror fast food service since they do not often provide sit-down service, but they typically offer freshly prepared food with wholesome quality. As a result, their food prices tend to be higher than QSRs. Another differentiator from QSRs is that fast-casual places often provide nondisposable utensils and plates.

Casual dining offers a full-service, sit-down experience for customers at an affordable price. With a relaxed ambiance, consumers can come in, sit down, and enjoy a meal without breaking the bank.

Family dining follows a similar format to casual dining, but most establishments don’t serve alcohol. Family dining usually offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, making them open for more hours.

Fine dining restaurants provide customers with an elegant and upscale dining experience. While these restaurants have higher price points, customer are paying for top-quality food and the best service the industry can provide.

An overview of restaurant safety and food handling

Before diving into the steps of starting a restaurant, it’s important to understand the restaurant industry as a whole. Restaurant safety and food handling protocols are top priorities for the industry, so you should understand the ins and outs before you open a restaurant.

To keep guests safe and prevent food-borne illnesses, the restaurant industry is heavily regulated at city, state, and federal levels. Several federal agencies play a crucial role in the industry, some of which include:

City and state regulations vary depending on where you decide to open a restaurant. If you are considering multiple locations, each restaurant could have a different set of compliance obligations. Be sure to check out your restaurant state guidelines in addition to keeping up with federal agency recommendations and new educational resources published by these agencies.

There are several inspections a restaurant may be subject to in order to verify restaurant safety and operational compliance. An initial restaurant inspection may cover a variety of food safety protocols and grade a restaurant’s ability in food handling, food storage, employee hygiene, and operational excellence. Subsequent inspections throughout the year are normal, so you’ll want to come up with best practices for food safety and restaurant sanitation.

By familiarizing themselves with regulations, obtaining specific industry-related licenses, and adhering to the basic food safety procedures, restaurant owners can keep their reputation intact and customers out of harm’s way.

The cost of starting a restaurant

Most people who consider opening a restaurant want to know, how much does it cost to open a restaurant? It seems like a simple question but the truth is there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for how much it costs to start a restaurant. Restaurant start up costs are dependent on various factors including:

Starting a restaurant is usually a spendy proposition, and incorrect forecasts and budgeting are a major reason why restaurants fail. Avoid these situations by learning what costs you can expect and how to keep costs low so you can forecast a realistic budget.

After long hours of computing numbers and hashing out prices, you may realize that you don’t have the capital to front these costs initially. Don’t worry, there are plenty of financing options restaurant owners can consider.

And remember, even if you don’t need a loan to start your business , you may need a loan for future costs you can expect to pay, like purchasing inventory or new equipment, renovations, or hiring.

Taking payments from customers

Understanding the restaurant industry and mapping out a restaurant costs are the initial ingredients for success, and now it’s time to focus on taking payments from customers.

Making your first sale is an exciting milestone when you first start a restaurant and it should be a seamless experience that first time, and every time after. To do that, you need to choose a payments processor and point-of-sale (POS) software.

A payments processor handles credit and debit card transactions for your business. You want to look for a payments processor that accepts all major credit cards, has one consistent rate (with no hidden fees), and quick deposit times.

An intuitive point-of-sale system lets you get started taking payments quickly, and it can also grow with your restaurant (and help it grow). An integrated restaurant point of sale not only lets you accept all types of payments — including magstripe, EMV chip , and NFC (mobile payments) — but also it can help you run your entire restaurant more efficiently.

A restaurant POS system can help you with:

Outdated, slow POS systems can really hurt your sales, so it’s important to invest in capabilities that are quick for your customers, easy to use for your employees, and efficient for your restaurant overall . An integrated POS puts all your information — from sales and inventory to employee timecards — in one view, significantly improving organization and the ability to make better decisions.

Also consider a plan for online orders: Square Future of Commerce data found that an average of 36% of  restaurants’ revenue currently comes from orders placed through online or app-based ordering channels.

Visit our Square for Restaurants POS Demo page to see how we make running a restaurant easier.

Building a brand for a restaurant

How can you compete with more established restaurants to capture consumers’ attention and build loyalty? You need to build a brand.

Branding your business is an integral part of opening a restaurant, and it can play a major role in your future expansion and growth. Your brand is what distinguishes you from your competition. And it’s what makes your restaurant stand out and can often be the deciding factor for diners in an environment with endless options.

Here’s a crash course to get started branding your restaurant:

Start with positioning.

Evaluate your restaurant’s product, placement, promotion, and price to determine where your restaurant sits among the competition and to identify your unique selling proposition for your target customers.

Define your concept and location.

Your concept and location should play into how you position your restaurant. From the type of food to the interior design and even the staff selection, your concept dictates many of these decisions moving forward. Neighborhood stereotypes, location accessibility, and local competitors are location factors that affect your positioning.

Craft a mission statement.

Your mission statement defines what you do, who you are, and why you’re doing it. It should be your restaurant’s north star and decisions should align with it to create a consistent experience.

Be consistent in the details.

You communicate your brand through every part of your business. So to create a clear and memorable brand, you need to look at every detail for consistency. That means looking at the visual elements of your restaurant — your name and logo, menus, decor, uniforms, etc. — and the written elements (or your brand voice) — your website and other marketing channels like social channels — to make sure they support your mission.

Once you’ve established your brand, you need to create awareness of it amongst prospective customers. Here are a few ways to get started:

Hold a soft opening.

The exclusivity of a soft opening intrigues a crowd and gets people talking about your restaurant, and building hype is important. Additionally, the soft opening gives your staff a practice run and helps you further hash out menu items and get feedback before anything is solidified. Brainstorm soft opening launch ideas that blow your competition out of the water and give you a leg up when it’s time to open your doors.


Market your restaurant.

There are many channels you can use to market a restaurant. Traditional channels like TV tend to be pricey but reach a lot of people. Digital channels like social media, content marketing , and email are often low cost and do a better job of engaging (and building relationships with) prospective customers. You should test these channels to see what works for you (it may be a mix of both), but regardless of the media, you should use your brand visuals and voice in all your marketing.

Build a loyal following.

A customer loyalty program , in which you reward customers for repeat visits, can be a powerful tool. It can turn a first-time customer into a regular customer into a brand advocate. And advocates have huge value to your business because they tell their friends about your restaurant. And word of mouth is powerful: One study by Nielsen found that customers value referrals from friends and family more than any other type of marketing.

Restaurant trends to watch

Restaurant owners are responsible for staying ahead of trends in the restaurant industry, but that doesn’t just entail the latest food fads . Technology helps restaurants provide the ultimate customer experience and is becoming a more prominent part of the industry. Here are a few emerging restaurant trends to take into consideration.

Immediate customer feedback

Incorporating feedback into the dining experience allows customers to rate their experience through their digital receipt, which gives your restaurant the real-time data needed for continuous improvement. Feedback is one of several customer engagement features that allow restaurant owners to get a better understanding of what their customers want.

Accepting mobile wallets

Mobile wallets like Apple Pay have become increasingly popular and are shaping the future of payments. Some of the key benefits of accepting mobile wallets include increased security, speed, and convenience.

Delivery services

To reach a wider customer base, many restaurants have begun exploring food delivery services . This taps into an entirely new market potential for your restaurant and can help your restaurant stay competitive with others using the services.

Self-serve ordering

As the restaurant industry continues to explore automation, there’s a spike in interest around tableside contact-free ordering. The QR codes allows diners to scan to order food and drinks as well as pay for their meal without interacting with a server.

How to build a successful restaurant: Tips from 3 restaurateurs

The million-dollar question every aspiring restaurant owner asks: Will my restaurant be successful?

Starting a restaurant is an intricate process that requires dedication and commitment, and questioning your decision to embark on this rigorous journey is completely normal. Here are three tips from experienced owners that you can use when first starting out.

1. Stay resilient

Tod Wilson, the owner of the prosperous Mr. Tod’s Pie Factory in New Jersey, will be the first to tell you that this process isn’t always easy. Tod was the first winner on Shark Tank in 2009, but he faced much adversity along the way when he was trying to get his business up and running. What advice does Tod offer about success? He stresses the need for resiliency. “Keep fighting. Every time I find myself in a tough position, I think about that. You have to just get up after you get knocked down,” said Tod. “Whether it’s a product recall, not getting an order in, or losing a new hire, you have to be able to bounce back.”

2. Make a great first impression

The owner of Atlanta’s Monday Night Brewing emphasizes the first-time experience for a customer. You essentially have one time to get it right and make an impression on a first-time customer. If guests have one bad experience, “odds are they’ll never try it again.”

3. Stay true to your brand

Young Han is the head of community outreach at Philz Coffee and believes you should “never forget why you started. Always circle back to that and stay true to your core.”

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How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan: Pro Tips for Restaurant Business Writing

By Dana Krook

Restaurant owner writing business plan

If you want to open a restaurant, the first thing you need to do is create a restaurant business plan. This essential document serves as a blueprint for your vision and details all the different steps you’ll need to take in order to turn your business dreams into reality. 

However, if you’ve never written a business plan before, the process can seem a little intimidating. So to help you get started, we’ve put together a complete guide to writing a business plan for your restaurant. In this guide, we’ll cover:

What is a Restaurant Business Plan?

A restaurant business plan is a written document that outlines your business goals and how you will go about achieving those objectives. Put simply, a business plan acts as a written roadmap for a new restaurant from a financial, operational, and marketing perspective. Additionally, a restaurant business plan is also an important document for attracting outside financial investments – especially if you do not have an existing track record.

Though the length of a business plan varies from business to business, this type of document usually spans 15 to 20 pages. All business plans also tend to have the same basic elements, including an executive summary, a detailed description of the business, its services, and its products, a market analysis, an operations plan, and a financial analysis.

Two women reviewing a restaurant business plan.

Why You Need a Business Plan

As mentioned above, a restaurant’s business plan is a very important document, because it serves as a step-by-step guide for bringing your new business to life. By putting all the necessary information in your business plan, you’ll be able to clearly navigate each stage of the journey – from construction to daily operations.

Your business plan is also essential for raising money from investors. Opening a restaurant is expensive and often you’ll need capital from outside investors. Your business plan can help to convince investors to provide you with funding by showing them that you have a well-throughout plan for success and a sound financial strategy.

Restaurant Business Plan Template

Download this customizable restaurant business plan template to create a professional business plan for your new venture.

How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan: The 7 Sections Your Business Plan Template Should Include

While no two business plans are alike, they all include a few common elements. Below, we’ll explain the process of writing a restaurant’s business plan, including the seven key sections to include and what to write in each. You can also follow along and start filling out your own business plan – digitally or on paper – by downloading our restaurant business plan template .

1. Executive Summary

Look at any restaurant business plan example and you’ll see that it starts with an executive summary. The executive summary for a restaurant business plan introduces your new business and serves as a summary for your vision. The goal of this section is to provide an overview of what will be discussed in your business plan and to entice readers (likely investors) to want to know more.

In your executive summary, be sure to touch on your restaurant mission statement , your proposed concept, and how you’ll execute your business plan. You should also list any business partners and, if you’re targeting investors, detail the funding requirements.

And while this section is important, remember to keep it concise. Aim for 600 words max to encourage your reader to dive further into your business plan.

2. Business Description 

A business description section should follow your executive summary. The purpose of this section is to provide your reader with a high-level overview of your restaurant idea and to answer key questions that investors may have, such as the business concept, service model, and ownership structure.

Describe your restaurant concept in detail by providing information on the following:

Keep in mind that this section can easily come across as a bit dry and mundane – especially for investors who have read dozens of business plans. Think about how you can make your business idea stand out with passionate language and unique details.

3. Target Market and Market Analysis

Whether you’re buying or leasing , this section is where you describe the specific location of your new restaurant and the current market conditions. In addition to general information about your target market, you also want to explain your unique positioning in the market, your ideal customer profile, and how you’ll make your restaurant stand out.

In this section, you’ll clearly define:

4. Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan section details the restaurant marketing ideas , strategies, and tactics you’ll employ to get the word out about your restaurant. This section should go into detail about how you plan to market your restaurant, and after you open.

For instance, you might want to hire a PR team to drum up excitement ahead of your grand opening. And then after you open, you might want to leverage local food influencers to grow your social media presence.

5. Operations Plan

Your operations section is where you get into the nitty gritty of how your restaurant will operate once you’re up and running.

In this section, include details about:

6. Financial Analysis and Growth Plan

Your financial analysis is one of the last sections of your business plan, but it’s also one of the most important sections. In fact, many investors may skip straight to this section to determine how viable your idea is and whether your business is an attractive investment (or not). 

Make sure you complete a financial forecast that includes the following: 

7. Appendix

Adding an appendix section is optional, but highly recommended. This section is a great place to include charts, plans, graphics, pictures, a detailed budget, or any other material investors may find useful.

In your appendix, you may want to include:

Ready to get started? Grab the template!

Man reviewing business plans in a restaurant.

9 Tips for Writing a Great Plan

Now that you understand what key elements to include in your restaurant’s business plan, let’s look at 9 tips for writing yours.

1. Use a Business Plan Template

Before writers start writing, they usually have a basic outline that acts as a template – a starting point – for their idea. By following the same approach when writing your business plan, the entire process will be much smoother. And lucky for you, we have a free restaurant business plan template available to help you get started.

2. Create a Detailed Outline

Using our template, create an even more detailed outline. Make your way through all the sections of your business plan and jot down key points under each section.

3. Embrace the “Good Enough” Mindset

As you move through the sections of your plan, you may get stuck and have nothing to say. If this happens, make a note to come back to it later and move on. You can always include more detail after you’ve done more research.  

4. Research to Find Statistics and Inspiration

You will need to research to find statistics to back up your arguments, with specific sections requiring more research than others (i.e. the “Market Analysis” section). You may even want to find a sample restaurant business plan that will spark your creativity and give you ideas on how to better present yours.

5. View Your Plan as a Work in Progress

Writing a business plan takes time as you get a grip on the details and fine-tune your message. The key is to embrace this process and view your business plan as an ever-evolving document you can add to over time. 

Ready to kickstart your restaurant business plans?

6. know who your audience is.

Who are you writing for? Investors? Just you and your staff? Your audience will dictate the contents of your plan, the level of detail, and what language you’ll use. 

If you’re writing for investors, your plan will need to be more detailed than if you’re writing for internal stakeholders. And because investors may have limited knowledge of restaurant terminology, avoid industry jargon and instead use plain English. It’s helpful to look at another restaurant business plan example to see how these types of documents are written.

7. Use Visuals, Charts, and Tables

Use images, graphics, tables, and charts to explain complex ideas, add color to your document – both literally and figuratively – and present specific information. 

8. Summarize Each Part of Your Business Plan

After you’ve completed a section of the plan, write a short summary that highlights the critical details and key takeaways of that section.

9. Write Your Executive Summary Last

An executive summary for a restaurant business plan summarizes your entire document so you should try to write it last – after you’ve covered all the details.

The Importance of Business Plans in the Restaurant Industry

Writing a restaurant business plan is essential – even if you already own a restaurant. A business plan acts as a blueprint you can follow, reduces stress, and boosts investor confidence. And when you start with a restaurant business plan template , the process moves that much faster.

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Dana is the former Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, sharing tips for and stories of restaurateurs turning their passion into success. She loves homemade hot sauce, deep fried pickles and finding excuses to consume real maple syrup.

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Everything You Need to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

Valerie Hornbach | March 1, 2023, 11:00 PM CST

Everything You Need to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

Photo by Vincent M.A. Janssen via Pexels

Before your car was built, it was a series of lines on an engineer’s laptop screen. Before your favorite album was recorded, a musician scribbled out some rhymes in a notebook. And before your restaurant is going to launch, you likewise have to begin with the intense work of creating a blueprint of your idea — your restaurant’s themes, its physical spaces, its food, its drink, its staff, its marketing, its tech, and its expenses. The title for this package of art, chemistry, design, and accounting goes by the extraordinarily humble title of your business plan.

With a business plan, you show the world — or, more precisely, potential investors and partners — exactly what you intend to create, if you can secure the money and the help. You don’t need to know everything about the future in order to make a convincing plan. You should do your best to figure out what it costs to hire a sous chef in Seattle and the price of bread flour in Honolulu and what A/C costs for a barbecue joint in July in Tulsa. Don’t get blindsided by the obvious costs of your unique project, because not-so-obvious ones will be all around you.

To get you started, we got the download from two people who know the score: Sean F Hennessy and Richie Karaburun, both clinical associate professors at New York University’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality. They underlined how difficult this process is in any environment, and how it’s only becoming tougher as investors steady themselves from the whipsaw of the past few years. “The strength of the market research being applied will support the comfort level of investors in your business,” Hennessey said. “The industry is a bigger leap of faith for investors. Your business is only as good as how many customers you’ve had during the last meal, period.”

But don’t let the world economy discourage your very personal idea. If you know you have the goods, charge ahead and get that bag. Here’s how to build a restaurant business plan that will lead you into a future of your making.

Begin with your executive summary

Your executive summary should present the tl;dr of your business plan. Think of it like the back cover of a novel. This is where you boil down the tightest possible description and pitch for your establishment, drawing from all the other facets of your business plan. As you continue developing your business plan, your executive summary will evolve to reflect your learnings and structure. You may write this first, but be prepared to revise it constantly. Ideally by the time you're finished, a reader will think, Oh, yeah, that should totally be a business — this will work .

Next, bang out a business description

Start by describing what kind of restaurant you want to create. Think through such questions as: What kind of food will you serve? Are you going for fine dining, casual, or quick-serve? What kind of ambiance or vibe will you create? And what sorts of customers do you expect to attract? Paint a picture for your reader. 

Explain your value proposition

Your value proposition is what you bring to the table (heh) that no one else does, or what you bring better than anyone else. Identify your competitive advantage. This could be a combination of things: an amazing location, a winning concept for décor, a brilliant chef, your grandmother’s secret recipes. What sets you apart? Lean into whatever this is as you plan and create your concept. The world is full of restaurants already. Your value proposition is what you have figured out that makes you original (and, ideally, profitable).

Describe your background and credentials

If you have history as a restaurateur, describe your successes. If you are or have a notable chef on your team, say so. If you have deep ties to a specific community or neighborhood, or another network to draw from (professional, academic, spiritual, whatever it might be) bring it to the fore. Sell yourself. Ask: Why would you fund you?

Build and develop your menu

You probably wouldn’t even be considering opening a restaurant if you didn’t have the beginnings of a menu in mind. Still, go further than that. The menu determines not just what customers eat, but your food costs, your build-out needs, your competition, and in many cases the very location you’ll choose. Your menu should be price-competitive, yet creative enough to set you apart. You want to be reliable, yet flexible. Your menu also must work in concert with your overall brand identity and with your business model. Some foods are amazing at delivery — pizza and wings are the champs there, and drive many ghost kitchen concepts . Other foods simply aren’t going to drive as much revenue through food delivery or pickup . 

So don’t simply wave your hand and say “we’re a roti joint” or “we’re going to be a New American concept.” Get down into the weeds. Is your ideal menu seasonal or perennial? Will you be serving family style? Small plates? Can you source your ingredients from vendors you can afford? And will you have back-up vendors, just in case? What does your drinks program look like ? Are you doing NA cocktails , on-tap cocktails , or to-go cocktails ?

Good news is, a menu by no means needs to be long to be profitable. The price of your food, your prep, and your labor all will come to bear on your bottom line. For everything you intend to execute, consider cost, consider feasibility, and consider its possible appeal. Also — consider your own personal enjoyment. Don’t build a menu around foods or kitchen tasks that you can't find a way to enjoy. Your menu should make people happy, and you are the most important person in this entire equation.

Sketch out an organizational chart

You’re as successful as the people around you, and you can’t do this by yourself. Write out your org chart: who does what tasks, and who reports to whom.

Maybe you won’t need to hire immediately because your first phase is a food truck or a very small mom-and-pop . You should nonetheless consider staff planning. Figure out how many and what kinds of staffers you’ll need, what shift schedules will look like, and how much your labor will cost. Those projections are essential to building out a budget and any other financial planning (such as your expected restaurant prime cost ).

Outline your technology plan 

Take a deep breath, clear your mind, and consider your tech needs. They’re going to be several. For some restaurants the sum of your technology tools, or the so-called tech stack , is surprisingly straightforward: Pizza joints , tap rooms , and coffee shops , for example, use a handful of go-to tools. Most everyone else has to improvise a bit.

First thing, you’ll need a point-of-sale system — a huge choice, and one that will determine many other downstream tech choices. A good POS can simplify financial reports and analysis, stock turnover, and more. Your POS will be your best business management tool for day to day operations. Many businesses have transitioned to a cashless model by accepting sources like Apple Pay, Venmo, and credit card systems . Do some shopping, and don’t be shy about haggling over the price with your eventual provider.

You might need delivery and marketing services like DoorDash and GrubHub (or you might decide to launch your own delivery service ). Digital menus and ordering, virtual check-in, mobile payment systems , and a solid website all belong in this section. You might also push the boundaries further with e-commerce , reservation software , inventory management , payroll and staffing and hiring , food waste monitoring , your kitchen display systems , and online ordering platforms . So many aspects of a restaurant’s operation are propelled or assisted by different tech tools, you’re going to want to get nerdy with it, and check those price tags.

Show off some elements of your restaurant design 

Plan and consider the experience when you first walk into your restaurant following through every step of your space. What do you want your customers to experience? What environment do you want to create to represent your brand identity and how should it influence the dining experience? What about your workers — will they have their own bathroom? Lockers?

This vision will vary depending upon your type of restaurant, the space you’re working with, and your budget. Get creative. Depending upon how you expect to use the space at different times of the year and day, you may want a space that can transition to present different energies for different settings. The general design aesthetic may be something to test run at a soft opening or in feedback surveys.

Lay out your market analysis

Failing to do enough unbiased, thorough research is perhaps the greatest mistake restaurateurs make in business planning. With so many factors to consider, a guess or your gut aren’t the most reliable guides. Do your research, gather data, and make the best-educated decisions possible for your location, your budget, your concept, and your model.

Here are some broad areas to consider, with some questions to get you probing.

Location. This includes both your specific address and the rest of the neighborhood. What is foot traffic or driving traffic like? And will you have high traffic and good visibility? Who lives nearby, what do they spend, and what are their dining habits?

Have a look around, within a short drive or walking distance. Are there other restaurants with similar offerings to yours? This might not be a bad thing — opening a gelato shop on a block with an Italian restaurant might benefit you both. But if they are similar, how does their menu stack up to yours? Is their location more visible? If so, how can you set your establishment apart?

Competitive analysis. This is somewhat related to location. How well you do will depend on who else exists in your area that is both a direct and indirect competitor.

Do a SWOT analysis — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What demand will there be for your restaurant? Who are your top competitors, and what advantages do you have that they don’t?

Competitive analysis information for restaurants can be tricky. Business intelligence in this industry commonly travels as mostly word of mouth, which doesn’t always paint a full picture. If you have the budget, consider hiring a consultant or data firm to help you figure out the landscape. While it may be difficult to get some competitive market data, you have to be thorough.

Performance KPIs. Know how to calculate top restaurant key performance indicators, and know the most appropriate metrics of your type of restaurant. You want to set realistic financial goals.

Target marketing. Without limiting yourself, ask who is your ideal customer? Age, income, background, tastes, family size, you name it. You’re going to want to build your brand to appeal to them, without needlessly alienating other possible customers. Restaurant owners commonly overestimate how much their target demographic will spend — for instance young, hip diners are great for bringing energy and attention, but they’re often cash-poor. Know what people in your area have to spend so that you can set realistic expectations for sales.

Theme. Branding, branding, branding. This again draws from your value proposition and your overall design. Know your theme and maintain consistency to build your brand .

Financial analysis. This might be the most important analysis. If you’re spending faster than you’re earning, you’ll be sunk, and for a variety or reasons it’s easy to overestimate your profitability. Do the math — pitting all your costs against your projected revenue. Then run those calculations back while considering how you would withstand a shock to the system such as another pandemic , supply chain woes, or a bird flu that sends the price of eggs soaring. Economics is known as the dismal science for a reason. Confront the hard questions about whether you can turn a profit. 

Soft openings. Have you attempted a trial run, or a pop-up ? Do you have some other solid form of proof that your ideas — your menu, your marketing plans, your vibes — can draw an audience? If not, figure out a way to present a proof-of-concept menu of items to 50 or 100 people to get their customer feedback on quality, experience, and price point. Incorporate their testimony (and suggestions) into your overall plan, and use the test run to let investors know you’ve prototyped your concept. It gives them confidence.

Sketch out your marketing plan 

Second perhaps only to your market analysis, your marketing plan may be the most important aspect of your business plan. Your marketing plan should at the very least include: a website, a plan to use social media, a plan to use Google, a plan to use incorporate loyalty programs, any relevant traditional media (such as print or radio ads), and any other direct-to-consumer outreach — coupons, flyers, mailers, email, and so forth. Figure out what it all costs and include that estimate into your expenses.

As you imagine your marketing, picture how the other aspects of your business plan connect to it. Does your restaurant design lend itself to creating the sort of vibe you want to showcase on Instagram, for instance? Does your menu include items that perform especially well on TikTok? Is the lighting suitable for content creators to make posts of their favorite menu items? Make a note of it. Part of the business plan’s essential function is itself to market your idea to people who might back your restaurant and encourage them to bring more people next time they visit. The marketing plan thus has a dual function. It lays out your strategies and ideas; it also serves to market the business plan itself. So think of it as a place where the other components of your overall plan converge.

If you’re stumped for ideas, scope out this quick rundown of top restaurant marketing tools and digital marketing tips . Then check out ways to build a great restaurant website , strategies to win on SEO and on local SEO in particular , a primer on setting up a Google Business Profile , basic social media best practices , specific best practices for Instagram , strategies for marketing your restaurant on TikTok (plus some TikTok accounts to follow ), pointers on how to shoot great food video , how to use email as your secret weapon, and how, after all of this, to get the best returns from your restaurant marketing budget .

Finally, put the business plan to use by presenting to investors

Now, to the point of the plan: Showing people who might want to invest in your restaurant that you’ve got a chance to turn a buck. Restaurants fail all the time. Top of your investors' minds will be the question you've been considering all along now, namely: How will this venture survive to make a profit?

Ideally you’re presenting to investors around your soft launch. If the soft launch and the pitch are successful, you may get some capital lined up and get to move ahead to the hard launch.

Whether you win over private investors or secure a business loan, this business plan will allow you to present a strong, metrics-based pitch that shows a path to success grounded in realistic expectations and thorough market research. By the time you’ve honed your business plan, tweaking and adjusting as you interrogate your ideas, you should feel ready for anything.

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