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How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan in 2024 (Free Template)

Saif Alnasur

So you want to open a restaurant? Then you need a business plan.

A restaurant business plan is your roadmap to success. It outlines and forecasts every aspect of your restaurant’s operation and management —from menu design and location to financial planning and staff training. A comprehensive restaurant business plan demonstrates professionalism and a clear understanding of goals, increasing your chances of achieving long-term success in the competitive restaurant industry.

Why is a strong business plan important? Because it turns your restaurant idea into reality. According to the National Restaurant Association , having a business plan increases your chances of success by preparing you for problems before they arise and attracting investors and partners.

Planning is the key to restaurant success. Without a plan, you risk being part of the 30% of restaurants that fail in the first year​. To make sure your restaurant succeeds, you can start by creating a business plan. Financial projections are a crucial component, helping to secure funding and plan for the future. Here’s how to get started.

Download our free restaurant business plan  It's the only one you'll ever need. Get template now

The importance of a restaurant business plan 

Think of your business plan as your ultimate guide, showing business owners, stakeholders, and investors how you’re going to turn your vision into reality. It ensures nothing is overlooked as you grow your restaurant . When you’re deep in the chaos of construction, licensing, staffing, and other challenges, your business plan will keep you on track and focused. Without one, navigating the complex world of opening a restaurant becomes much tougher.

Restaurant Business Plan template

A solid business plan is also key to attracting investors. Most new restaurants need some outside capital from hospitality investors or silent partners. Before they invest in your dream, they need to see that you’ve got a solid, thought-out plan for success. Your business plan shows investors that you’ve considered every expense and every possible scenario. It provides a complete description of your strategy, highlights the experience and skills of your management team, and explains why and how it will succeed.


Every business should have a business plan, whether new or existing. Business plans help you focus on your goals and can help get back on track if you stray from them.

  • How to write a restaurant business plan

Whether this is your first business plan or your 10th, using a template specifically designed for the restaurant industry can be incredibly helpful. Our restaurant business plan template includes all the necessary sections you need. You can download a customizable copy of the business plan template here.

Conducting a thorough market analysis to understand customer demographics and competition is crucial for the success of your restaurant. Keep reading to learn about the key elements that make a restaurant business plan successful.

Restaurant business plan

Further reading

  • How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan Executive Summary
  • Your Complete Guide to Restaurant Financing and Loans
  • How To Conduct a Restaurant Market Analysis
  • Essential elements of a restaurant business plan

Design a branded cover page

Start with a branded cover page that showcases your logo, brand fonts, and all relevant contact information. This sets a professional tone and makes your business plan easily identifiable.

Write the executive summary

Begin your restaurant business plan with an executive summary . This section introduces and sums up your entire vision, making sure to grab the reader’s attention. It should make investors feel invested in your idea and eager to read more.

Key elements to include are your restaurant’s mission statement , proposed concept, how you’ll execute the plan, an overview of potential costs, and the anticipated return on investment. Describe your restaurant concept, detailing the type of food being served, service style, design elements, and unique features. This is also a great spot to highlight your business’s core values. A strong executive summary sets the tone for your business plan and helps attract investor interest.

Additionally, include a management team write-up to highlight the credentials and past experiences of your management team, demonstrating their ability to run a successful establishment.

A well-conceived mission statement can provide a guiding light to keep your restaurant moving in the right direction. It helps ensure that every decision you make and every interaction you have is in line with your core values and goals.

Create the company overview

In this section, you’ll lay out the foundational details of your restaurant. Start by introducing the basic information: the restaurant’s name, address, and contact details. Include information about the owner and their background, showcasing their experience and passion for the industry. This sets the stage for your business’s credibility.

Next, describe the restaurant’s legal standing and its short- and long-term objectives. This helps potential investors understand the structure and vision of your business.

Highlight your understanding of the local food industry with a brief market research summary. Explain why your restaurant will succeed in this market by demonstrating awareness of local dining trends and consumer preferences. Crafting your own restaurant business plan is crucial to showcase your dedication and strategic planning, learning from others' mistakes to ensure success.

Here’s a sample layout for this section:

Company description

Restaurant Name : [Restaurant Name]

Location: [Restaurant Address]

Contact: [Restaurant Phone Number] | [Restaurant Email Address]

Owner: [Owner Name]

Experience: [Owner Name] has over [Number] years of experience in the restaurant industry. They have worked in various roles, including [List of Roles]. They are passionate about food and creating a memorable dining experience for their guests.

Legal Standing: [Restaurant Name] is a [Type of Legal Entity] registered in [State/Province].

  • How to Write a Great Restaurant Description

Include an industry analysis

First describe the current state of the market sector your restaurant will be in and the specific area you will be in. This should include local economic growth, existing restaurants, infrastructure projects, nearby businesses, residential areas and foot and car traffic counts.

To create an effective and professional business plan, it is important to study restaurant business plan samples.

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1. Review your target market

The restaurant industry is competitive so you need to find your niche. What will make your restaurant different? Who will your restaurant attract and who will be your repeat customers? Describe your target market and compare it to the overall restaurant industry in terms of diner demographics, characteristics and behaviour.

2. Location analysis

Even if you don’t have a specific location yet, focus on the general area or city where you will be opening your restaurant and explain why. Include local economic growth, major events and nearby infrastructure projects. Compare the current market conditions to your target market to show the proposed location fits your ideal customer profile. Investors will be looking closely at this section to make sure the location is right for your concept.

3. Competitive analysis

Get into the competitive landscape around your proposed location. Detail the number of other restaurants in the area, especially those with similar concepts. Investors want to know what will make customers choose your restaurant over the competition. What will make your food and service stand out and what other advantages do you have, like longer hours? Use a competitive matrix to show you understand your niche in the market.

Put together a restaurant marketing plan 

The marketing section outlines how you’ll promote your restaurant before and after opening. Not sure where to start? Check out our guide here. A well-thought-out marketing plan is crucial to grow a successful restaurant and distinguish it from competitors.

Start by listing out specific tactics you’ll use pre and post-launch. Will you work with a PR manager? Launch a social media account to document the build-out and generate buzz. Share those details. If you already have a large social media following , make sure to mention it.

Once the restaurant is open , which channels will you use to keep the momentum going? Email marketing? Regular social media posts? Charity partnerships? Local TV and radio ads? Will you invest in customer relationship management software to keep in touch with regulars or implement a loyalty program?

This section should give a clear picture of your promotional strategy and how you plan to engage with potential customers from the start.

Restaurant marketing plan

Outline your operation plan

Here’s how to outline your restaurant’s day-to-day operations once the doors open. Cover these key areas:

Clearly defining the service style of your restaurant, whether it is fine dining , quick-service, self-service, or another type, is important to ensure a consistent customer experience.

1. Staffing

Think about the positions you'll need and how many people you'll need for each role. What will make your place a fantastic workplace? Outline the pay for each position, how you'll recruit the right people, and what the hiring criteria will be.

2. Customer service policies and procedures

How will you ensure an exceptional and consistent guest experience every time? Detail your service values, policies, and procedures, and explain how you'll enforce or encourage them.

3. Restaurant point of sale and other systems

How will you keep track of sales and inventory, manage takeout and delivery, control labor, handle cash, process payroll, and accept various payment types? Cover the systems you'll use for all these tasks.

4. Suppliers

Where will you get your ingredients? Think about both one-time equipment purchases and items that need regular replenishment. Detail your plans for sourcing these essentials.

Nail down your financial game plan with first-year projections

The financial analysis usually wraps up your business plan, and it’s where investors really focus in. They want to see exactly how you’ll spend their money in the first year and how you expect costs and revenue to stack up. Make sure to hit these key points in this section.

1. Your investment plan

Here’s where you put in the initial investment and how you’ll use it in the first year. Think kitchen equipment, furniture, decor, payroll, legal fees, marketing, and a bit of working capital.

2. The projected profit and loss (P&L) statement

Since the business plan is done way before you open your restaurant you’ll need to make some educated guesses for your P&L statement. Estimate costs and sales based on your restaurant’s size, target market and the local competition. Use this P&L template and guide to dive deeper into P&L statements and create one for your future restaurant.

3. The break-even strategy

This is where you show investors how much monthly revenue you’ll need to cover all your overhead and operational costs. Remember there are always variable costs so highlight what you think those will be. How will you hit that revenue target during slow months?

4. Cash flow prediction

Your cash flow expectations hinge on your inventory purchases, staff size, payroll, and payment schedule. Some months will be better than others once your restaurant is up and running. This cash flow analysis will show investors that, based on your forecasts, your restaurant can sustain itself during leaner months without needing extra investments.

How to sell a restaurant idea and master your business plan presentation

Once your business plan is polished and ready, it's time to become its number one expert. Investors want to see that you know every nook and cranny of your business and are confident you can make it happen.

When you're ready, email your business plan to anyone in your network who might be interested in investing. With any luck, you'll get some interest, and investors will want to meet to discuss your restaurant.

Some investors might want a pitch presentation alongside the printed business plan. Use a professional template from Google Sheets or PowerPoint, and practice until you can nail the presentation without notes.

Be prepared for any questions—both the expected ones and those that come out of left field. If you don’t know an answer on the spot, it’s fine to say you’ll find out and get back to them quickly.

Restaurant presentation

A well-crafted restaurant business plan serves as a roadmap to success, guiding every aspect of the venture from menu design to employee training.

By carefully considering each component of the plan, aspiring restaurateurs can increase their chances of securing funding, attracting customers, and achieving their long-term goals. Including a sample menu in the business plan is necessary to showcase planned dishes and prices, which helps in selling the restaurant concept to potential investors and customers.

Remember, a restaurant business plan is not just a document to satisfy investors; it is a living tool that should be revisited and updated regularly as the business grows and evolves.

By staying committed to the plan and adapting it as needed, restaurateurs can ensure that their culinary dreams have a solid foundation for success.

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How much profit does the restaurant make.

When it comes to restaurant profitability, the numbers can widely vary. On average, restaurants report profit margins between 3% and 5% annually.

Fast-food establishments often have lower margins but benefit from a high volume of customers and quick turnover rates. In contrast, fine dining venues, although charging higher prices, see fewer customers and slower turnover, which influences their profit margins differently.

Our research indicates that, regardless of the type of restaurant, the average monthly profit usually falls between $15,000 and $25,000.

How to open a restaurant without money?

Starting a restaurant can be a daunting task, especially when funds are tight. However, with some creativity and determination, you can turn your dream into a reality. Here’s how:

Innovate Your Restaurant Concept

Consider a unique, low-cost restaurant concept. Instead of a full-scale establishment, perhaps a pop-up restaurant or a delivery-only kitchen could better fit your budget. Flexibility in your concept can significantly reduce initial costs.

Seek Funding Alternatives

Traditional bank loans aren't the only option. Look for investors who believe in your vision or explore crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or GoFundMe . Sometimes, you can even find grants aimed at smal l business startups.

Leverage Online Platforms

Start by building a strong online presence. Create a website and utilize social media to attract and engage customers. Online marketing can be a cost-effective way to generate buzz and gather a customer base before you even open your doors.

Collaborate with Other Businesses

Partnerships can pave the way for mutual growth. Collaborate with food suppliers, local farms, or even other small businesses to share costs and resources. This strategy can also expand your network and increase visibility within your community.

Start Small: Food Trucks or Catering

Consider launching your concept through a food truck, catering service, or pop-up stand. These options require significantly less capital than a traditional sit-down restaurant and can help you build your brand and customer base.

Restaurant Business Plan template

Growth Marketing Manager at Eat App

Saif Alnasur used to work in his family restaurant, but now he is a food influencer and writes about the restaurant industry for Eat App.


Reviewed by

Nezar Kadhem

Co-founder and CEO of Eat App

He is a regular speaker and panelist at industry events, contributing on topics such as digital transformation in the hospitality industry, revenue channel optimization and dine-in experience.

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Restaurant Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Restaurant Business Plan

You’ve come to the right place to create a successful restaurant business plan.

We have helped over 100,000 entrepreneurs and business owners with how to write a restaurant business plan to help them start or grow their restaurants.

What is a Restaurant Business Plan?

A restaurant business plan is a plan to start and/or grow your restaurant business. Among other things, it outlines your business concept, identifies your target market, presents your marketing plan and details your financial projections.  

What are the Main Types of Restaurants?

There are many types of restaurant businesses which vary based on their service style. Restaurants can range in type from fast food, fast casual, moderate casual, fine dining, and bar and restaurant types.

Restaurants also come in a variety of different ethnic or themed categories, such as Mexican restaurants, Asian restaurants, American, etc.  Some restaurants also go mobile and have food trucks.  

How Do You Get Funding for Your Restaurant Business Plan?

Restaurant businesses are most likely to receive funding from banks or independent restaurant investors. Typically you will find a local bank and present your restaurant business plan to them. Most independent restaurant investors are in the restaurant business already and can be a valuable resource for advice and help with your business plan.

Another option for a restaurant business is to obtain a small business loan. SBA loans are a popular option as they offer longer loan terms with lower interest rates.  

Sample Business Plan for a Restaurant Owner

Below is a business plan example to help you create each section of a comprehensive restaurant business plan.

Executive Summary

Business overview.

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse is a new restaurant and steakhouse located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The menu of Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will include bistro-type dishes that are authentically created and crafted by acclaimed Chef Peter Logan. It will be located in the trendy part of town, known as the Plaza District. The restaurant will be surrounded by classy art galleries, live theater, high-end restaurants and bars, and expensive shopping.

Owned by emerging restaurant operators Chef Peter Logan and Anastasia Gillette, Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse’s mission is to become Oklahoma City’s best, new business for patrons to celebrate their next big event, have a nice date night, or gather with friends or family for a fun evening while dining over finely crafted entrees, desserts, and cocktails.  

Products Served

The following are the menu items to be offered by Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse:

  • Soups & Salads
  • Gourmet sides
  • Wine, Beer & Spirits

A sample menu can be found in the Appendix of this business plan.

Customer Focus

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will target adult men and women between the ages of 21 – 65 with disposable income in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Within this demographic are millennials, young professionals, newlyweds, young families, more established families, and retirees. Because of the pricing structure of the menu, the patrons will likely be upper middle class to the wealthy population of Oklahoma City.  

Management Team

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse is owned and operated by fellow Oklahoma City natives and culinary enthusiasts, Chef Peter Logan and Anastasia Gillette. Both come with a unique skill set and complement each other perfectly. They formerly worked together at another OKC fine dining establishment and made a great team for serving guests delectable food and wine while ensuring the highest level of customer service.

Chef Peter will manage the kitchen operations of Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse, while Anastasia will oversee front of the house operations, maintain and ensure customer service, and manage all reservations.  

Financial Highlights

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse is seeking $300,000 in debt financing to open its start-up restaurant. The funding will be dedicated for the build-out and restaurant design, kitchen, bar and lounge, as well as cooking supplies and equipment, working capital, three months worth of payroll expenses and opening inventory. The breakout of the funding is below:

  • Restaurant Build-Out and Design – $100,000
  • Kitchen supplies and equipment – $100,000
  • Opening inventory – $25,000
  • Working capital (to include 3 months of overhead expenses) – $25,000
  • Marketing (advertising agency) – $25,000
  • Accounting firm (3 months worth and establishment/permitting of business) – $25,000

financial projections for Bluehorn Restaurant

Company Overview

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse is a new restaurant and steakhouse located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will serve a wide variety of dishes and beverages and will cater to the upper middle class to wealthier population of Oklahoma City. The menu of Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will include bistro-type dishes that are authentically created and crafted by acclaimed Chef Peter Logan. It will be located in the trendy part of town, known as the Plaza District. The Plaza District is one of Oklahoma’s trendy neighborhoods and is considered the “it” area for newlyweds, millennials, professionals, and young singles. The restaurant will be surrounded by classy art galleries, live theater, high-end restaurants and bars, and expensive shopping.

Owned by emerging restaurant operators Chef Peter Logan and Anastasia Gillette, the restaurant’s mission statement is to become the best new steak restaurant in OKC. The following are the types of menu items Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will serve- shareables, steaks, soups, gourmet sides and salads.

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse History

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse is owned by two Oklahoma City natives, Chef Peter Logan and Anastasia Gillette. They have both worked around the country in fine dining establishments and have a combined twenty years in the restaurant industry. Upon working alongside each other at another fine dining establishment in Oklahoma City, the two of them became good friends and decided to venture into owning their own restaurant.

Chef Peter is the kitchen guru and critically acclaimed chef, while Anastasia manages the front of the house and is a certified Sommelier. Together, with both of their expertise and knowledge, Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse is destined to become Oklahoma City’s next big restaurant.

Industry Analysis

The restaurant industry is expected to grow to over $220 billion in the next five years.

Consumer spending is projected to grow. The Consumer Confidence Index, a leading indicator of spending patterns, is expected to also grow strongly, which will boost industry growth over the next five years. The growth in consumer confidence also suggests that more consumers may opt to segment their disposable income to eating outside the home.

Additionally, an increase in the number of households earning more than $100,000 annually further contributes to the industry growth, supporting industry operators that offer more niche, higher-end products.  This group is expected to continue to grow in size over the next five years.

The urban population represents a large market for the industry. Specifically, time-strapped individuals living in urban areas will likely frequent industry establishments to save time on cooking. The urban population is expected to increase, representing a potential opportunity for the industry.  

Customer Analysis

Demographic profile of target market.

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will target adult men and women between the ages of 21 – 65 with disposable income in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Within this demographic are millennials, young professionals, newlyweds, young families, more established families, and retirees. Because of the pricing structure of the menu, the patrons will likely be upper middle class to the wealthy population of Oklahoma City.

Customer Segmentation

The target audience for Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will primarily include the following customer profile:

  • Upper middle class to wealthier population
  • Millennials
  • Young professionals
  • Households with an average income of at least $75k
  • Foodies and culture enthusiasts

Competitive Analysis

Direct and indirect competitors.

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will be competing with other restaurants in Oklahoma City. A profile of each of our direct competitors is below.

Located in the trendy area known as the Plaza District, The Press has reimagined our favorite foods of the surrounding regions through the lens of home.

The menu consists of appetizers, soups, burgers and sandwiches, bowls, main dishes, sides, desserts, and a large selection of alcoholic beverages. The Press serves craft beer, domestic beer, wine spritzers, house cocktails, wine, and mimosas. They also offer brunch. The menu of The Press is affordable with the most expensive dish being $16. The wine menu is also not pretentious as the wine is sold either by the glass or bottle, with the most expensive bottle being $52 for the Gruet Sparkling Brut Rose.  

Oak & Ore

Oak & Ore is a craft beer and restaurant in OKC’s Plaza District. They have a 36-tap beer selection and offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free dining options. Oak & Ore offers a rotating, 36-tap selection of their favorite brews from Oklahoma and around the world. Each beer is thoughtfully paired with a craft beer-inspired restaurant experience.

The food menu of Oak & Ore offers starters, salads, wings, fried chicken, sandwiches, tacos, banh mi, and sides. They also have a selection of kids dishes so the whole family can enjoy comfort food while sampling one of their delectable beers.

The Mule OKC

The Mule is a casual, hip restaurant offering a large beer and cocktail menu plus sandwiches and more. Located in the constantly growing and buzzing hub that is the Plaza District, The Mule takes the timeless favorite and contorts it into a whole menu of wild offerings.

There is also a fantastic assortment of soups offered and The Mule shakes up a seasonal list of cocktails designed by their bar staff. During the winter months, patrons can stave off the cold with their versions of hot toddies and buttered rum. For the beer drinkers, they always have a reliable line-up of fresh cold brews on draft, as well as a wide selection of can.  

Competitive Advantage

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse offers several advantages over its competition. Those advantages are:

  • Gourmet dishes elegantly prepared to the finest standard.
  • Selection of steaks sourced from local Oklahoma farms.
  • An exclusive and unique wine menu that includes a wine selection of all price points.
  • Highly sought after location: Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will be located in the trendy and attractive neighborhood known as The Plaza District.
  • Trendy, welcoming, and energetic ambiance that will be perfect for a night out or a celebration.

Marketing Plan

Promotions strategy.

The marketing strategy for Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse is as follows:

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse’s location is a promotions strategy in itself. The Plaza District is a destination spot for locals, tourists, and anyone looking for the trendiest food fare in Oklahoma City. The Plaza District is home to OKC’s most popular bars and restaurants, art galleries, theaters, and boutique shopping. The millennials, young professionals, and foodies will frequent Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse for the location itself.

Social Media

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will use social media to cater to the millennials and Oklahoma City residents. Chef Peter and Anastasia plan to hire an advertising agency to take professional photographs of the menu items and location to create appealing posts to reach a greater audience. The posts will include pictures of the menu items, as well as upcoming featured options.  

SEO Website Marketing

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse plans to invest funds into maintaining a strong SEO presence on search engines like Google and Bing. When a person types in “local fine dining restaurant” or “Oklahoma City restaurant”, Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will appear in the top three choices. The website will include the full menu, location, hours, and lots of pictures of the food, drinks, and steaks.  

Third Party Delivery Sites

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will maintain a presence on sites like GrubHub, Uber Eats, Doordash, and Postmates so that people looking for local food to be delivered will see Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse listed near the top.  

Operations Plan

Operation functions:.

The company will hire the following:

  • 4 sous chefs
  • 2 bartenders
  • 2 hostesses
  • The company will hire an advertising agency and an accounting firm


Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse aims to open in the next 6 months. The following are the milestones needed in order to obtain this goal.

7/1/202X – Execute lease for prime location in the Plaza District.

7/2/202X – Begin construction of restaurant build-out.

7/10/202X – Finalize menu.

7/17/202X – Hire advertising company to begin developing marketing efforts.

8/15/202X – Start of marketing campaign

8/22/202X – Final walk-thru of completed restaurant build-out.

8/25/202X – Hire the entire team of sous chefs, servers, and bussers.

9/1/202X – Decoration and set up of restaurant.

9/15/202X – Grand Opening of Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will be owned and operated by Chef Peter Logan and Anastasia Gillette. Each will have a 50% ownership stake in the restaurant.

Chef Peter Logan, Co-Owner

Chef Peter Logan is an Oklahoma City native and has been in the restaurant industry for over ten years. He was trained in a prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy in San Francisco and has worked in some of the nation’s most prestigious fine dining restaurants. His tenure has took him from the west coast to the east coast, and now he’s back doing what he loves in his hometown of Oklahoma City.

Chef Peter will manage the kitchen operations of Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse. He will train and oversee the sous chefs, manage inventory, place food inventory orders, deal with the local food vendors, and ensure the highest customer satisfaction with the food.

Anastasia Gillette, Co-Owner

Anastasia Gillette was born and raised in Oklahoma City and has garnered over ten years in the industry as well. While in college, Anastasia worked as a hostess at one of the area’s most prestigious restaurant establishments. While there, she was eventually promoted to Front of the House Manager where she oversaw the hostesses, servers, bussers, bartenders, and reservations. Her passion always led to the beverage portion of the restaurant so she obtained her Sommelier certificate in 2019. With her wine education, Anastasia is able to cultivate an interesting and elegant wine selection for the restaurant.

Anastasia will oversee front of the house operations, maintain and ensure customer service, and manage all reservations. She will also be in charge of the bar and wine ordering, training of front of the house staff, and will manage the restaurant’s social media accounts once they are set up.  

Financial Plan

Key revenue & costs.

The revenue drivers for Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse will come from the food and drink menu items being offered daily.

The cost drivers will be the ingredients and products needed to make the menu items as well as the cooking materials. A significant cost driver is the fine dining equipment, serving dishes, and beer and wine glasses. Other cost drivers will be the overhead expenses of payroll for the employees, accounting firm, and cost of the advertising agency.

Funding Requirements and Use of Funds

Bluehorn Restaurant & Steakhouse is seeking $300,000 in debt financing to open its start-up restaurant. The breakout of the funding is below:

Financial Projections

Income statement.

FY 1FY 2FY 3FY 4FY 5
Total Revenues$360,000$793,728$875,006$964,606$1,063,382
Expenses & Costs
Cost of goods sold$64,800$142,871$157,501$173,629$191,409
Initial expenditure$10,000$0$0$0$0
Total Expenses & Costs$291,815$416,151$454,000$483,240$514,754
EBITDA$68,185 $377,577 $421,005 $481,366 $548,628
Depreciation$27,160$27,160 $27,160 $27,160 $27,160
EBIT$41,025 $350,417 $393,845$454,206$521,468
Interest$23,462$20,529 $17,596 $14,664 $11,731
PRETAX INCOME$17,563 $329,888 $376,249 $439,543 $509,737
Net Operating Loss$0$0$0$0$0
Use of Net Operating Loss$0$0$0$0$0
Taxable Income$17,563$329,888$376,249$439,543$509,737
Income Tax Expense$6,147$115,461$131,687$153,840$178,408
NET INCOME$11,416 $214,427 $244,562 $285,703 $331,329

Balance Sheet

FY 1FY 2FY 3FY 4FY 5
Accounts receivable$0$0$0$0$0
Total Current Assets$184,257$381,832$609,654$878,742$1,193,594
Fixed assets$180,950$180,950$180,950$180,950$180,950
Depreciation$27,160$54,320$81,480$108,640 $135,800
Net fixed assets$153,790 $126,630 $99,470 $72,310 $45,150
TOTAL ASSETS$338,047$508,462$709,124$951,052$1,238,744
Debt$315,831$270,713$225,594$180,475 $135,356
Accounts payable$10,800$11,906$13,125$14,469 $15,951
Total Liability$326,631 $282,618 $238,719 $194,944 $151,307
Share Capital$0$0$0$0$0
Retained earnings$11,416 $225,843 $470,405 $756,108$1,087,437
Total Equity$11,416$225,843$470,405$756,108$1,087,437
TOTAL LIABILITIES & EQUITY$338,047$508,462$709,124$951,052$1,238,744

Cash Flow Statement

FY 1FY 2FY 3FY 4FY 5
Net Income (Loss)$11,416 $214,427 $244,562 $285,703$331,329
Change in working capital($19,200)($1,966)($2,167)($2,389)($2,634)
Depreciation$27,160 $27,160 $27,160 $27,160 $27,160
Net Cash Flow from Operations$19,376 $239,621 $269,554 $310,473 $355,855
Net Cash Flow from Investments($180,950)$0$0$0$0
Cash from equity$0$0$0$0$0
Cash from debt$315,831 ($45,119)($45,119)($45,119)($45,119)
Net Cash Flow from Financing$315,831 ($45,119)($45,119)($45,119)($45,119)
Net Cash Flow$154,257$194,502 $224,436 $265,355$310,736
Cash at Beginning of Period$0$154,257$348,760$573,195$838,550
Cash at End of Period$154,257$348,760$573,195$838,550$1,149,286

  You can download our free restaurant business plan template PDF . This restaurant business plan template can be used to create a finalized business plan for your restaurant concept.

How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan (+ Examples)

Learn how to create a restaurant business plan with the best format that outlines your concept, and financials. Get examples and templates to get started.


10 minute read

Restaurant business plan

helped business professionals at:


Short answer

What is a business plan for a restaurant?

A business plan for a restaurant is a document that outlines the restaurant's concept, strategies, and financial forecasts. It serves as a roadmap for launching and growing the establishment successfully.

Don't just focus on profit margins, ensure your business plan is well-presented

In the competitive world of the restaurant industry, where low-profit margins are a well-known hurdle, there emerges a critical, yet often overlooked, factor pivotal to success: the design of the business plan.

As we enter 2024, it's becoming increasingly clear that the traditional overlook of business plan design can no longer be afforded.

This isn't just about financial projections or market analysis; it's about crafting a blueprint that encapsulates the essence of your restaurant, compellingly communicates its value, and sets a solid foundation for growth.

By focusing on the design of your business plan, you stand to gain not just the attention of potential investors but also a clearer roadmap to navigate the challenges ahead.

What makes an effective business plan?

Embarking on the restaurant business journey requires more than just a passion for food-it demands a comprehensive plan that lays out every aspect of your venture with precision and foresight.

Let's delve into what constitutes an effective restaurant business plan, ensuring it's not just another document, but a roadmap to success.

6 key components of a winning restaurant business plan:

1. Vision and concept clarity

Start with a crystal-clear articulation of your restaurant's concept. Whether it's a cozy vegan cafe or a high-end steakhouse, the essence of your establishment should leap off the page.

This clarity helps potential investors and partners instantly grasp what you're aiming to create.

Beyond the concept, delineate your restaurant's values, mission, and the unique selling points that set you apart in a crowded market.

2. Comprehensive market analysis

A deep dive into market analysis cannot be overstated. Here, you're not just identifying who your customers are but also understanding the competitive landscape.

What are the prevailing trends in the dining sector? Who are your direct and indirect competitors, and how do you plan to differentiate yourself? This section should reflect a meticulous research process, showcasing insights that guide your strategy.

3. Robust financial planning

In any successful business plan, sound financial management is key.

Essential elements include:

Realistic financial projections: Your forecasts should be realistic, and built on data-backed assumptions.

Detailed profit and loss forecasts

Cash flow predictions

Break-even analysis

Contingency planning: Preparing for unforeseen challenges is crucial.

Develop a well-thought-out contingency plan to navigate the industry's unpredictable nature.

Identify potential risks and solutions, including supplier issues, staffing shortages, and changes in consumer behavior, to ensure business resilience.

4. Operational strategies

Operational excellence underpins a restaurant's success. Detail your plans for day-to-day operations, from sourcing ingredients to managing inventory and staffing.

Highlight your commitment to quality and efficiency in every aspect of the operation, from the kitchen to customer service.

Also, outline the technology, such as restaurant POS systems you'll implement to streamline processes and enhance the dining experience.

5. Marketing and branding

In today's digital age, a savvy marketing and branding strategy is crucial.

Describe how you'll create a strong brand identity and the channels you'll use to reach your target audience.

From social media campaigns to community engagement initiatives, your plan should reflect a keen understanding of how to connect with potential customers and build a loyal following.

Discover how to create a marketing deck to align your strategy with your business objectives, target audience needs, and market trends.

6. Customer experience focus

Exceptional customer service is the lifeblood of any successful restaurant. Detail the steps you'll take to ensure every guest feels valued and satisfied.

From the ambiance and menu design to staff training programs, every element should contribute to a memorable dining experience.

Feedback mechanisms and how you'll adapt to customer preferences are also vital components of this section.

What should be included in a restaurant business plan?

Creating a restaurant business plan is a foundational step toward launching a successful dining establishment.

It outlines your vision, strategy, and the specific actions you plan to take to make your restaurant a success.

Below, we break down the essential components that should be included in your restaurant business plan, ensuring clarity, comprehensiveness, and appeal to potential investors.

8 essential sections of a restaurant business plan:

1. Executive summary

A compelling overview of the restaurant, showcasing its unique concept, mission, and strategic objectives that guide its operations.

Overview: Present a succinct snapshot of your restaurant, including its concept, mission, key goals, and ownership structure.

Purpose: Highlight what you aim to achieve with the restaurant and the appeal it has to potential investors or lenders.

2. Business description

An in-depth look at the restaurant's theme, location, and how these elements combine to create a distinctive dining experience.

Concept and theme: Describe the unique aspects of your restaurant's concept, from the cuisine and menu items to the design and ambiance.

Location analysis: Analyze the chosen location, discussing demographics, foot traffic, and how these factors make it an ideal spot for your target market.

3. Market analysis

An insightful examination of dining trends, target demographics, and customer needs to inform strategic positioning.

Trends: Examine current trends in the dining industry and how they influence your restaurant's positioning.

Target demographic: Identify your target customers, detailing their preferences, dining habits, and how your restaurant will meet their needs.

Needs and preferences: Focus on understanding and catering to what your target market seeks in a dining experience.

4. Competitive analysis

A detailed evaluation of competitors, focusing on differentiation and strategies for establishing a market edge.

Competitors: List direct and indirect competitors, analyzing their strengths, weaknesses, and how you'll differentiate your restaurant.

Differentiation: Explain the unique selling points that will set your restaurant apart in the competitive landscape.

5. Menu and product offering

Overview of menu design, ingredient sourcing, and special services that enhance the restaurant's appeal.

Menu design: Discuss the inspiration behind your menu, including how it reflects the theme and caters to your target demographic. Outline your pricing strategy and item selection.

Sourcing and suppliers: Detail your approach to sourcing high-quality ingredients, including partnerships with local suppliers and commitments to sustainability.

Special offerings: Highlight any additional services your restaurant offers, such as catering, special events, or exclusive seasonal menus, to draw in a wider audience and generate extra revenue.

6. Marketing and sales strategy

A summary of branding efforts, promotional tactics, and sales projections designed to attract and retain customers.

Branding: Detail your restaurant's brand identity, including name, logo, and how it communicates your restaurant's values and mission.

Marketing tactics: Outline the strategies you will employ to attract and retain customers, such as social media marketing, local advertising, partnerships, and loyalty programs.

Sales forecasts: Provide realistic sales forecasts, explaining the rationale behind these projections and how you plan to achieve them.

7. Operating plan

Description of daily operations, facility management, and health safety protocols to ensure smooth and compliant restaurant functionality.

Daily operations: Describe the operational flow of the restaurant, including hours of operation, staffing requirements, and customer service policies.

Facility management: Discuss the layout and design of your restaurant, kitchen equipment needs, and any other facility-related details that will ensure efficient operation.

Health and safety: Outline the health and safety measures you will implement to comply with local regulations and ensure the well-being of both employees and guests.

8. Management and organization

An outline of the restaurant's organizational structure, key personnel, and staffing strategies for operational excellence.

Ownership structure: Specify the ownership structure of the restaurant, including key stakeholders and their roles.

Team composition: Introduce the management team, chefs, and other critical staff, highlighting their experience and how it contributes to the restaurant's success.

Staffing plans: Discuss your plans for hiring staff, including numbers, positions, and the qualities you seek in employees to maintain high standards of service.

How to create a business plan for a restaurant?

Creating a standout business plan for your restaurant involves focusing on key components that blend your vision with practical strategies.

6 actionable steps to distill your restaurant business plan:

Define your concept clearly: Begin by articulating your restaurant's concept, ambiance, and what sets it apart. This clarity lays the groundwork for the entire business plan.

Conduct thorough market analysis: Dive deep into your target market and competitors. This research will guide your menu design, pricing strategy, and marketing efforts, ensuring you carve out a unique space in the marketplace.

Craft a compelling menu: Ensure your menu reflects your brand identity and appeals to your target audience, all while considering cost-effectiveness and supply chain realities. Aim for a balance between innovation and simplicity.

Develop realistic financial projections: Detail initial costs, revenue expectations, and a break-even point. Importantly, predict potential hurdles with ready contingency plans.

Outline operational strategies: Describe your daily management approach, including sourcing, staffing, and customer service. Efficient operations are crucial for a seamless experience and streamlined processes.

Implement strategic marketing: Choose the most effective ways to connect with your audience. Building a strong brand narrative and engaging actively with customers can help turn first-time visitors into regulars.

7 restaurant business plan examples for winning partners and investors

When it comes to crafting a business plan for a restaurant, the type of establishment you're planning significantly influences the structure and content of the document.

Each kind of restaurant from fast-casual and fine dining to food trucks and bistros-caters to different market segments and operational models.

Here's a look at how these differences manifest in their respective business plans:

1) Fine dining restaurant business plan

Market focus: Targets higher-income clientele seeking a premium dining experience. The plan should highlight exceptional service, high-quality ingredients, and unique culinary offerings.

Operational model: Detailed attention to the ambiance, chef expertise, and a higher staff-to-guest ratio. Wine lists and bar offerings also play a significant role.

Financial projections: Emphasizes higher check averages with a focus on profitability per guest rather than volume. The cost structure will detail higher initial investment in decor, kitchen equipment, and inventory.

Here’s an example of a fine-dining restaurant business plan:

2) Bar restaurant business plan

Market focus: Targets a diverse clientele, from young professionals to social groups, seeking a blend of dining and socializing.

Operational model: Balances innovative cuisine with an extensive beverage selection in a space designed for both eating and lounging, including live entertainment options.

Financial projections: Outlines dual revenue streams from food and drinks, emphasizing beverage sales' higher profit margins and detailing licensing, entertainment, and insurance costs.

Here’s an example of a bar restaurant pitch deck:

3) Bistro restaurant business plan

Market focus: Caters to locals and tourists seeking a casual yet refined dining experience, positioning itself as a cozy neighborhood spot.

Operational model: Highlights a selective menu that adapts seasonally, emphasizing a warm ambiance and personal service.

Financial projections: Projects moderate earnings with a strong local following, noting initial investments in location and ambiance to create a distinctive setting.

Here’s an example of a bistro restaurant pitch deck:

4) Food truck business plan

Market focus: Appeals to urban professionals, millennials, and foodies looking for unique, high-quality food options on the go.

Operational model: Mobility is key. The plan must address location strategy, permits and regulations, and adaptability to different events and seasons.

Financial projections: Lower startup costs compared to brick-and-mortar establishments but include considerations for vehicle maintenance, fuel, and parking permits.

5) Coffee restaurant business plan

Market focus: Appeals to a varied audience with a unique theme or specialty cuisine, standing out from conventional coffee shops.

Operational model: Details the influence of theme or cuisine on menu design, decor, and guest experience, aiming to make the restaurant a destination.

Financial projections: Anticipates varied financial outcomes based on concept uniqueness, with thorough market research guiding pricing and marketing strategies.

6) Italian, Mexican, Asian, etc., cuisine restaurant business plan

Market focus: Focuses on providing authentic dining experiences to both expatriates and locals interested in specific cuisines.

Operational model: Requires sourcing authentic ingredients and skilled chefs familiar with the cuisine. The business plan should address menu authenticity, culinary training, and potential partnerships for ingredient import.

Financial projections: Depending on the positioning (casual vs. fine dining), financials would reflect the cost of unique ingredients and the expected dining experience level.

Here’s an example of an Italian restaurant business plan proposal:

7) Fast food restaurant business plan

Market focus: These plans emphasize speed, efficiency, and affordability. The target market typically includes busy professionals, families looking for convenient meal options, and younger demographics.

Operational model: The business plan must detail quick service operations, including streamlined kitchen layouts, supply chain logistics for fast-moving inventory, and technology for order taking (e.g., apps, and kiosks).

Financial projections: Focus on volume sales, low to moderate check averages, and strategies for high turnover rates.

How to design a restaurant business plan?

Designing a restaurant business plan is much like crafting a compelling game pitch deck, it's all about presenting your concept in a way that's as irresistible as the dining experience you're proposing.

8 restaurant business plan design tips:

1. Embrace scrollytelling

Use narrative scrolling to take your audience through the journey of your restaurant's concept, from the inspiration behind your dishes to the ambiance you plan to create.

This dynamic presentation style keeps readers engaged, turning your business plan into an immersive experience.

Here's an example of scroll-based design:

Business plan scrollytelling example

2. Incorporate interactivity and multimedia

Go beyond static pages by embedding interactive elements like sample menu walkthroughs, virtual tours of the restaurant layout, or clips from cooking demos.

These elements not only highlight your restaurant's unique offerings but also keep potential investors or partners engaged throughout your presentation.

And here's what a static presentation looks like compared to an interactive one:

Static presentation

Static PowerPoint

Interactive presentation

Interactive Storydoc

3. Use data visualization

Present market research, target demographics, and financial projections through clear, compelling visuals.

Transform complex data into easy-to-understand graphs, charts, and infographics, making your business strategy both visually appealing and straightforward to grasp.

Here's an example of a presentation with dataviz elements:

4. Personalize your deck

Leverage software that allows for customization, such as incorporating the viewer's name or tailoring content to specific investor interests.

A personalized approach demonstrates meticulous attention to detail and can forge a stronger connection with your audience.

5. Use cohesive branding

Ensure your business plan reflects your restaurant's identity through consistent use of colors, fonts, and imagery that align with your branding.

This not only enhances the visual appeal of your plan but also immerses your audience in the atmosphere you aim to create.

6. Ensure mobile-responsive

Given the variety of devices stakeholders might use to view your plan, ensuring a mobile-responsive design is essential.

This ensures that your business plan is accessible and engaging, whether it's being viewed on a smartphone or a desktop computer.

7. Highlight key information

Design your business plan to draw attention to critical information.

Techniques such as strategic content placement and highlighting can guide the reader's focus, ensuring that essential points stand out without overwhelming the viewer with too much information at once.

8. Segment content in tabs

Organize your business plan into sections or tabs that cater to different aspects of your restaurant concept and business strategy.

This not only makes your plan more navigable but also allows readers to easily find the information most relevant to their interests or concerns.

Here's an example of a tabs slide:

Tabs slide example

Restaurant business plan templates

Kicking off your restaurant business plan is a daunting task, especially when you aim to capture the essence of your dining concept in a document.

Interactive restaurant business plan templates are designed to simplify this process. They provide a structured framework that incorporates interactive and multimedia elements, essential for presenting your restaurant in a vibrant and dynamic manner.

These templates not only save you precious time but also guarantee that your business plan conveys a polished and compelling story.

Snag one today!

business plan for opening a new restaurant

I am a Marketing Specialist at Storydoc, I research, analyze and write on our core topics of business presentations, sales, and fundraising. I love talking to clients about their successes and failures so I can get a rounded understanding of their world.

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business plan for opening a new restaurant

  • Restaurants
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Restaurant Business Plan

Restaurant Business Plan: What To Include, Plus 8 Examples

  • Business Growth & Management , Templates & Guides

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:

  • What problem does the business’s product or service solve?
  • What niche will the business fill?
  • What is the business’s solution to the problem?
  • Who are the business’s customers?
  • How will the business market and sell its products to them?
  • What is the size of the market for this solution?
  • What is the business model for the business?
  • How will the business make money?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • How will the business maintain a competitive advantage?
  • How does the business plan to manage growth?
  • Who will run the business?
  • What makes those individuals qualified to do so?
  • What are the risks and threats confronting the business?
  • What can you do to mitigate those risks and threats?
  • What are the business’s capital and resource requirements?
  • What are the business’s historical and projected financial statements?

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:

  • Mission statement
  • Overhead costs
  • Labor costs
  • Return on investment (ROI)

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:

  • Owner’s details
  • Brief description of their experience
  • Legal standing
  • Short-term goals
  • Long-term goals
  • Brief market study
  • An understanding of the trends in your niche
  • Why your business will succeed in these market conditions

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:

  • The industry  as a whole
  • The competition your restaurant will face
  • The marketing  you’ll execute to bring in customers

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:

  • High-end singles
  • Businessmen and businesswomen

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:

  • Menu Engineering: What It Is And How It Can Increase Profits
  • Restaurant Menu Pricing: 7 Tips To Maximize Profitability
  • How To Design Your Menu | Free Restaurant Menu Template

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:

  • Word-of-mouth/in-restaurant marketing
  • Partnering with other local businesses
  • Media exposure

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:

  • Renovations to leased space
  • Dining room furniture
  • Kitchen and food-prep equipment
  • Liquor license

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:

  • Time and attendance tracking
  • Built-in time clock
  • Labor cost  optimization
  • Data analysis and reporting
  • Messaging and communication
  • And much more…

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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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.

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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.

business plan for opening a new restaurant

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!

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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.


LLC Formation

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 comprehensive restaurant business plan

business plan for opening a new restaurant

fanWhen opening a new restaurant, having a solid restaurant business plan is key for the success of a a business. The best ones identify, describe and analyse business opportunities while setting a blueprint. Here, we’ve put together a guide for how to write a restaurant business plan so life at your spot starts off on the right foot.  

What your restaurant business plan should cover

The strongest restaurant business plans always include all or most of the components described below. Charles Bililies , founder and CEO of Souvla , advises that first-time restaurateurs read plenty of different business plans for other restaurants, technology and retail companies to get a better sense of layout options, writing styles and clarity of concept. Put the sections that you feel would be most compelling to someone who’s never met you first: the “Management Team” section if you’re coming from high-profile establishments, for example. The goal is for the reader to keep turning the page.

Quick links Branded cover Concept Sample menu Service Management team Design Target market Location Market overview Marketing and publicity Specialists and consultants Business structure Financials

1. Branded cover

Include your logo (even if it’s not finalised), the date, and your name.

Describe your restaurant concept and get the reader excited about your idea. Go into detail about the food you’ll be serving, inspiration behind your concept and an overview of service style. Define clearly what will be unique about your restaurant.

3. Sample menu

The menu is the most important touchpoint of any restaurant’s brand, so this should be more than just a simple list of items. Incorporate your logo and mock up a formatted menu design (tap a designer for help if needed).

Your sample menu should also include prices based on a detailed cost analysis. This will give investors a clear understanding of your targeted price point, provide the first building block to figuring out average bill estimations needed to create financial projections and show investors that you’ve done the homework needed to be confident that you’ll be able to sell these items at these prices and operate within your budget.

This section is most relevant for fine-dining concepts, concepts that have a unique service style or if you have particularly strong feelings about what role service will play in your restaurant. It can be a powerful way of conveying your approach to hospitality to investors by explaining the details of the guest’s service experience.

Will your restaurant have counter service designed to get guests on their way as quickly as possible, or will it look more like theatre, with captains putting plates in front of guests simultaneously? If an extensive wine program is an integral part of what you’re doing, will you have a sommelier? If you don’t feel that service is a noteworthy component of your operation, address it briefly in the concept section.

5. Management team

Write a brief overview of yourself and the team you have established so far. You want to demonstrate that the work experience you’ve acquired over the course of your career has provided you with the necessary skills to run a successful restaurant. Ideally, once you have described the strong suit of every member of your team, you’ll be presenting a full deck. Most independent restaurant investors are in this for more than just money, so giving some indication of what you value and who you are outside of work may also be helpful.

6. Menu Design

Incorporate some visuals. Create a mood board that shows images related to the design and feeling of your restaurant. Planning on cooking in a wood-burning oven? Include that. Photos of materials and snippets of other restaurants that you love that are similar to the brand you’re building are also helpful.

7. Restaurant target market

Who is going to eat at your restaurant? What do they do for a living, how old are they, and what’s their average income? Once you’ve described them in detail, reiterate why your specific concept will be appealing to them.

8. Location

There should be a natural and very clear connection between the information you present in the ‘Target Market’ section and this one. You probably won’t have a specific site identified at this point in the process, but you should talk about viable neighbourhoods. Don’t assume that potential investors will be familiar with the areas you’re discussing and who works or lives there — make the connections clear. You want readers to be confident that your restaurant’s ‘ideal’ diner intersects with the neighbourhood(s) you’re proposing as often as possible.

If you don’t have a site, this is a good place to discuss what you’re looking for in terms of square footage, foot traffic, parking, road accessibility and other important details.

9. Market overview

Address the micro and macro market conditions in your area. At a macro level, what are the local and regional economic conditions? If restaurants are doing poorly, explain why yours won’t; if restaurants are doing well, explain how you’ll be able to compete in an already booming restaurant climate. At a micro level, discuss your direct competitors. Talk about what restaurants share your target market and how you’ll differentiate yourself.

10. Marketing and publicity

The restaurant landscape is only getting more competitive. Talk about your pre- and post-opening marketing plan to show investors how you will gain traction leading up to opening day, as well as how you’ll keep the momentum going. If you’re going to retain a PR/marketing company, introduce them and explain why you’ve chosen them over other companies (including some of their best-known clients helps). If not, convey that you have a solid plan in place to generate attention on your own through social media , your website , and media connections. To help you get started be sure to check out our zero budget marketing checklist .

11. Specialists and consultants

List any outside contractors you plan to retain, such as:

  • Main Contractor
  • PR & Marketing

Briefly explain the services they’ll be providing for you and why you chose them, along with any notable accomplishments.

12. Business structure

This section should be short and sweet. What type of business structure have you set up and why did you make that specific decision? You will need to work with a lawyer to help you determine what business structure is best for you.

“ Step one : write a restaurant business plan. Step two : hire a good lawyer. In addition to helping me build a smart, sustainable business structure, my lawyer was also a great resource for reviewing my business plan because she’s read thousands of them. She was a very helpful, experienced outside perspective for more than just legal matters”, Charles Bililies explains.

13. Restaurant financials and funding

Let your accountant guide you through this portion of your business plan. It is crucial that whoever you retain to help you with your finances has a wealth of restaurant experience (not just one or two places), as they should be familiar with the specifics of restaurant finances and know what questions to ask you.

Before creating realistic financial projections, your accountant will want to know approximately how many seats you’re planning on having, what your average bill will be, and how many covers you expect per day. Being conservative in these estimations is key as these three data points will be used as the basis for figuring out whether your concept is financially feasible.

Lou Guerrero, Principal at Kross, Baumgarten, Kniss & Guerrero, emphasises that, “You’ll get a lot of accountants that tell you that they’ve done a couple of restaurants, but you have to choose someone that has a deep expertise in what you’re doing. There’s nothing to gain from going with someone that doesn’t have a very restaurant-centric practice.”

A well-vetted accountant with restaurant experience will know exactly what you’ll need to have prepared to show investors. The key projections you can expect to work on are:

  • Pro forma profit and loss statement for the first three to five years of operation
  • Break even analysis
  • Capital requirements budget

Free tools to build a restaurant business plan in Australia:

If design is not your forte, consider using a free online template. There are plenty of templates available on the web that can aid in this process. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or need help getting started, there are some great options

  • Canva : Bring your descriptions and its templates will help you do the rest. Canva hosts a library of thousands of free menu templates to choose from.
  • Australian Government:   a collection of free tools and templates to help you build your first business plan
  • VistaCreate:  The plug-and-play menu templates are easy to use, and the platform has the option for print and delivery.

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How to Open a Restaurant + Free Business Plan Template

A step-by-step guide to planning, financing, staffing, stocking and marketing a new restaurant for its debut.

Opening a restaurant? Good! As the restaurant industry grows and demand for both on-premise dining and takeout increases, there’s a need for new eateries: ones that cook up signature dishes, boast a loyal group of employees and patrons, establish a special place in their communities and, naturally, make money. 

Of course, this is easier said than done (especially that last part). A restaurant must take a series of steps before it can open its doors to the public. Luckily, there are resources to help aspiring restaurateurs make their dreams come true. 

Read below for a step-by-step guide to planning, financing, staffing, stocking and marketing a new restaurant for its debut.

Step 1: Write a Restaurant Business Plan

A business plan is like an instruction manual. It documents the who, what, where, why and how of the restaurant's strategy. 

This is a crucial first step for restaurant owners, because it forces them to get serious and answer important questions about their business. It is also a crucial tool for the next section of this guide — securing funding — because it convinces investors and lenders that the restaurant has a reasonable path to success.

Elements of a Restaurant Business Plan

Executive Summary: A 1-2 page overview of the full business plan. This should summarize all of the plan's most important information. The sections that follow the summary reinforce your key points in more detail, but the summary itself should be clear, concise and convincing.

Leadership Team: An introduction to the people who will run the restaurant, including short biographies. Some people who might be worth including here are the restaurant’s owners, any known investors, franchise representatives, managers and back-of-house leaders such as the head chef.

Business Overview: An introduction to the restaurant’s concept. This section should paint the picture of what potential guests can expect when they walk through the door, pull up to the drive-thru or place an order on the restaurant’s website. The restaurant’s mission statement, menu overview and service style should all be summarized.

Industry & Market Analysis: An overview of research on the restaurant's industry, location and audience. The more detail provided in this section, the more valid the conclusions reached in the financials section will appear. Topics may include the restaurant's target customer profile and local competitive landscape.

Marketing Strategy: A high-level overview of how the restaurant will reach its target market. Its overall brand positioning, as well as priority marketing channels (social media, public relations, website marketing, etc.), should all be explained here. A more thorough marketing plan should come at a later date (see Step 6 below).

Operating Model: A description of the restaurant's logistics. This assures readers that the pieces are in place to function efficiently — all while retaining staff, keeping the restaurant safe and making profit. The restaurant’s service model, staffing & hiring protocols and deployment of restaurant technology should be covered here in detail.

Financial Overview & Projections: An analysis of how profitable the restaurant will be and why. At the end of the day, this is what investors want to know. A thorough sales forecast, projected profit & loss statement and break-even analysis must be included, alongside supporting tables and documentation. This section is what all previous sections should build to.

Creating a Restaurant Business Plan

A restaurant’s business plan needs to show serious thought and credibility. The information itself does the heavy lifting, but design and presentation matter. Here's a free, interactive document template that includes the sections above. If you prefer a slideshow to a document,  see here  for design inspiration.


Restaurant Business Plan Template

Download the Free Restaurant Business Plan Template from BentoBox

Step 2: Source Restaurant Financing

The  average cost of opening a restaurant  is around $275,000 for a leased building and $425,000 for an owned one — and that's before accounting for franchising and consulting fees, which your restaurant may also require. The process of securing funds for those costs is an important step for first-time restaurateurs, since it’s nearly impossible to get them without a sound business plan and a thorough understanding of the foodservice industry.In short, the hunt for funding prepares entrepreneurs to become restaurateurs.

Common Sources of Restaurant Funding

Small Business Administration Loan: The Small Business Administration (SBA) guarantees a certain percent of its loans in the event a borrower can't repay it. If going through one of the SBA’s preferred lenders, the process for loan approval can be handled within the institution — which can expedite the process of procuring capital by weeks. There are several SBA loan options, but the most common one for restaurants is the SBA 7(a) loan . This loan can only be used for certain expenses, but this fortunately includes most major expenditures like restaurant equipment and real estate.

Merchant Cash Advance: Companies that provide merchant cash advances lend a fixed amount of capital in exchange for a larger future repayment. For example, if a restaurant receives a $50,000 advance at a 10% markup, the creditor would be owed $55,000. Merchant cash advances are a straightforward and relatively unrestricted source of restaurant funding. They are especially popular with existing restaurants that do a lot of their business via credit card transactions.

Restaurant Investors: Rather than the fixed repayment approach of cash advances, venture capital firms or individual investors (aka “angel investors”) typically fund restaurants by buying a percentage of ownership at an agreed valuation. For example, if the restaurant needs $100,000 in funding and an investor provides that in exchange for 20% of the business, that investor agrees to value the restaurant at $500,000. Although this requires ongoing repayment, investors are incentivized to help the business grow — which can be vital if they have the right knowledge and experience.

Crowdfunding: Using sites like Kickstarter and Wefunder , restaurants can recruit the public to fund their business. With Kickstarter, entrepreneurs set a monetary goal and solicit donations by offering a series of gifts, along with potential reimbursements. Wefunder is equity crowdfunding, so investors are rewarded through a payback structure (often a revenue or profit share, or a simple loan agreement). Crowdfunding can be hard to get off the ground, but when it works it also doubles as a marketing tactic, since it builds an audience of excited future patrons.

Friends and Family: If all else fails, hopeful restaurant owners can reach out to friends, family and even former restaurant coworkers. Family-owned restaurants are no rarity, and for good reason: the partner is invested not only in the success of the business, but also the business owner. However, mixing business relationships with personal ones can be a recipe for disaster. If the business fails, it could damage personal relationships and create a rift between the entrepreneur and anyone who invested in the restaurant. Consider this an option, but proceed with caution.

Tips for Meeting With Lenders and Investors

Have a finished business plan. As mentioned earlier, the restaurant business plan is the most crucial document for opening a new restaurant. Investors — whether friends or strangers — want to know that the entrepreneur has considered the path to success from every angle. The business plan is where they demonstrate that. No serious investor will fund your restaurant without reading it closely.

Practice the pitch. Before an investor even reads your business plan, you need to convince them it's worth their time. This is where the pitch comes in. The pitch is a 45-90 second overview of the business venture; essentially, it is your answer when someone says, "tell me about the restaurant." Business owners need a succinct, compelling, enthusiastic response to that prompt. Practice your pitch with people you trust, listen to their feedback, then rehearse, rehearse, rehearse until it's perfect.

Prepare for common questions. How will you stand out in an already crowded market? When will I see a return on my investment? How did you arrive at that estimate? If your answer to any of those questions is, "I'm not sure," you're unlikely to secure meaningful funding. Anticipate common questions and come prepared with answers. It suggests you've done your homework, and that is the type of person investors and lenders want to fund.

Step 3: Secure Restaurant Permits

Due to strict regulation, restaurants might require more than a dozen licenses and permits to legally operate. Without the proper permits, restaurants could be forced to close or ruin their reputations, while owners can face  fines or even criminal charges .The section below highlights ten of the most common permits and licenses a restaurant business may need. Some regions don't have federal providers for these permits, so the best way to find each permit is by searching " [name of permit]"  + " [restaurant location] " on Google. To be extra safe, you can also consult with counsel or local legislature to ensure you obtain the correct permits and licenses.

10 Important Restaurant Permits & Licenses

Business License: The business license is the most basic and mandatory license for a restaurant business. It’s a formal acknowledgment of the restaurant by the local government. Typically, the price of a business license is around $50, but the cost structure does vary.

Food Service License: A food service license (or in some places, a food service permit) is exactly what it sounds like. A restaurant needs one in order to legally sell and serve food as a business. Food service permits are earned after a health inspector approves the restaurant’s safety. Provided by the local government (typically the local department of health), a food service permit tends to cost a few hundred dollars.

Employee Health Permit: Also called a food handler’s permit, this document is obtained by restaurant employees who handle, store and prepare food. Employees must demonstrate their understanding of food safety principles to obtain this permit — usually by taking a course and an exam through a facilitator like ServSafe . Costs and requirements for these permits vary based on the restaurant’s location.

Seller's Permit: Also called a sales tax permit , a seller’s permit allows the business to collect sales tax in the state in which it operates. Most states do not charge for a sales tax permit, but others do — and some even require a security deposit in case the restaurant closes while still owing taxes. Check requirements and fees for each state.

Resale Permit: A resale permit allows restaurants to purchase nontaxable goods at wholesale, which will then be resold in the restaurant. With this permit, restaurants avoid double tax and only pay tax on what is purchased from the business. This keeps food costs low by not requiring sales tax on inventory. Like the seller’s permit, this permit is only needed if the restaurant's state has a sales tax.

Liquor License: Liquor licenses are mandatory for restaurants that plan to sell alcohol, but it's important to know the different types. If you want to offer a full bar (including hard alcohol), you need either a tavern or restaurant liquor license. If you don't plan to offer hard alcohol, you can manage with a beer and wine liquor license. Liquor licenses take a notoriously long time to obtain, so reach out to your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control commission as soon as possible.

Certificate of Occupancy: A certificate of occupancy ensures a restaurant’s building is safe to enter and operate a business in. Obtaining this permit requires passing an inspection from the local zoning department, which certifies the building is up to code in terms of fire exits, wiring and other structural concerns. Luckily, certificate of occupancy costs are generally low. 

Sign Permit: A quickly forgotten restaurant permit, the sign permit allows a restaurant to display outdoor signage. Applying for a sign permit may require mockups of the design, size dimensions and details on lighting and wiring needed to illuminate the sign. Sign permits are issued in the city or town in which the restaurant operates and start at around $100.

Dumpster Placement Permit: Many restaurants utilize their own dumpster, and doing so may require a dumpster permit. The necessity for restaurant dumpster placement permits varies by location, so it’s best to look up whether or not the city in which the restaurant operates requires this permit.

Valet Parking Permit: More upscale restaurants — particularly in cities — can appeal to a wider crowd by offering valet parking, which too requires a permit. Applying for a valet parking permit will usually require a detailed overview of the valet parking route and location. Like the dumpster placement permit, the need and price for a valet parking permit varies by location.

Important Non-Permits to Apply For

Employee Identification Number: An employer identification number (EIN) isn’t technically a restaurant license, but it’s necessary for restaurants to get one. An EIN provides a restaurant business with a federal tax ID, making it legal to hire and pay employees. An EIN may also be required from the state in which the restaurant does business.

Trademark:  To avoid worrying about a competitor ripping off your restaurant’s brand, consider applying for a trademark . While not required, a trademark gives the original restaurant the advantage in the event the business’s brand is infringed upon. On the flip side, you should also search the existing trademark database to ensure your restaurant’s name doesn't infringe on another business.

Step 4: Build Your Restaurant's Menu

According to a survey by  Harris Poll , 85% of Americans cite the quality of food as a key reason for choosing a restaurant, while 69% said the same about the price of food. This means that the type, value and quality of a menu is ultimately what drives most diners through your doors.

When opening a restaurant, the process of creating a menu can differ drastically. Franchisees might have little-to-no say in a menu, which could be dictated by corporate offices and franchisors. However, for independent restaurant owners opening up a new location, endless work goes into choosing food vendors, selecting menu items, designing dining room menus, promoting the menu online and adjusting a menu for profitability over time.

How to Create a Restaurant Menu From Scratch

Hone in on the restaurant concept. To start, a restaurant should focus on doing a few things extremely well. For example, a new pizzeria should focus most of its effort on sourcing high-quality pizza ingredients, creating unique pizza recipes and securing necessary kitchen equipment to cook perfect pizzas. From there, it can start to focus on supplements (additional things to offer) and tradeoffs (things it won't offer). For example, the pizzeria might supplement its pizzas with sandwiches and pasta dishes, but decide not to offer signature cocktails or brunch. Remember that you can always add new supplements over time. However, the fastest way to earn an audience is by doing a few things impeccably.

Break down the menu by section. Once the restaurant knows what it will be serving, it can categorize different dishes into sections. For example, the pizzeria above could break its menu out by dish type (pizzas, pastas and sandwiches). However, it could also lump different dish types into lunch and dinner sections, or it could turn dish types into sub-sections such as "red pizzas" and "white pizzas." This decision should be largely based on helping diners navigate your menu, which means it should be tailored to the dishes you plan to serve. A well-organized menu also makes choosing ingredients, managing inventory and eventually reporting on food sales significantly easier.

Consider food allergies & restrictions. While focusing on primary menu items is key, you likely don't want to exclude anyone. Guests may be pescatarian, vegetarian, paleo, keto or suffer from food allergies such as Celiac disease (an allergy to gluten). If your restaurant doesn't have options for common food restrictions, you're inviting those guests to dine elsewhere — which is especially costly if they're part of large groups who otherwise love your menu. Not every restaurant can cater to every dietary restriction, but with a good understanding of your market and target audience, you can decide which ones to prioritize.

Set price points. Pricing a restaurant menu is tricky. Prices can’t be so high they scare away patrons, but also can’t be so low they harm profitability. As a rule of thumb, food cost tends to be about 25-30% of the menu price — though certain items like pastas and desserts often have higher markups. With a new restaurant, operators should reach out to multiple food vendors to see who is willing to offer the best deals for each menu item. Securing the best ingredients at the most reasonable price is the best way to maximize profitability. No menu pricing strategy is good enough to overcome a bad deal on ingredients. 

Routinely revisit menu options. Every 6-12 months, restaurants should analyze every item on their menu for popularity and profitability. After an analysis, the restaurant’s most popular and profitable menu items should be made more prominent on the menu, while the least popular and profitable might need to be removed for a stronger alternative. This is a key component of menu engineering : the process of carefully and deliberately designing a menu for maximum profitability.


The Secrets of Menu Optimization

How to make your menus more consistent with your brand and more appealing to your diners both in-person and online.

Menu Design Considerations

Print Menu Design: Restaurants employ several psychological hacks to draw attention to their most profitable items, and most of them revolve around design. Placing key items at the top of the menu, putting them in a shaded box with bolded font or providing a dedicated section on the menu for them are examples of ways to accomplish this. In addition to drawing attention to key items, a restaurant's menu should have eye-catching visuals and match the brand's identity.

Online Menu Design: Many restaurants upload a PDF of their print menu to their website, but this is a mistake. Text-based menus are important for SEO rankings, which brings high-value traffic to the restaurant's website. It can be harder to make text-based menus look good, but restaurant website builders  like BentoBox come equipped with clickable tabs for each section, which creates a strong user experience. Houston restaurant Rosalie is a perfect example . 

Menu Descriptions:  Beyond design, well-worded restaurant menu descriptions can be a strong selling point. The menu’s phrasing and word choice should paint a clear picture of what guests can expect. On-premises, this reduces how many questions guests ask servers, which helps them turn tables faster. Off-premises, where guests don't have the luxury of servers, this reduces confusion, eliminates mix-ups and increases diner confidence.

Online Ordering: Online ordering menus need to be designed for digital conversion. This means they should follow the playbook and best practices of e-commerce design: organized navigation; mobile optimization; heavy use of thumbnail images; and clickable menu items that expand for customization. BentoBox online ordering has a 98% checkout rate on cart additions, which makes sense when you see how customers like Lost Larson and Toca Madera put it to use.

business plan for opening a new restaurant

Step 5: Hire Restaurant Staff

The restaurant industry workforce is enormous but also volatile. Smart restaurateurs proactively source and hire candidates who are dependable, experienced and align with their restaurant's culture. The process of training, retaining and growing great employees starts with finding the right people.

How to Hire Restaurant Workers

Write a Job Description:  To ensure the candidate and hiring manager are on the same page, a job description needs to be clear and accurate. If it's not, the employee will likely leave soon after joining, which sets the restaurant back even further. The description should also pitch the value of the opportunity to the candidate. In fact, hospitality job seekers say that career growth is the most important element of a job description . 

Share the Job Posting:  The first place to post job descriptions are industry job boards like Poached , Restaurant Careers and RestaurantZone . Restaurants should also list job descriptions on their websites, as long as they have the technology to capture applications on the spot (BentoBox customer Los Tacos No. 1 is a great example). Once a job is posted on their website, restaurants can share it from their social media handles and encourage referrals with an employee referral program . 

Interview Applicants:  The interview is a mutually beneficial test for both the applicant and the hiring manager. The candidate needs to make their skills, capabilities and work ethic apparent, while the hirer needs to sell them on accepting a potential offer. In addition to assessing hard skills, interviewers should ask open-ended questions that highlight a candidate's thought process — for example, "tell me about a time you made a mistake at work and how you reacted." 

Make a Competitive Offer:  Once the ideal applicant is selected, the hiring manager should follow up with an offer letter and a deadline for accepting the job. The offer letter should include details on salary and benefits. Depending on how much funding you've secured, you may not be able to negotiate beyond your initial salary. However, it helps to know that average hourly wages hit all-time highs for restaurant workers in November 2021, checking in at $18.40 per hour .

Tips to Make Limited Staff More Efficient

Cross-Train Employees:  Cross-training employees means equipping them to handle tasks outside their core responsibilities. For example, cashiers at a pizzeria might be expected to cut pizzas when they come out of the oven or clean tables during downtime. This has always been a part of restaurant culture, but recent staffing shortages have made it essential rather than "nice to have." Cross-training allows limited staff to cover more shifts when people call out or handle gaps in hiring.

Prioritize Staff Retention:  The longer an employee works for your restaurant, the more capable they are of keeping the ship afloat with limited help. Restaurants need to prioritize workplace culture, make staff feel valued and earn enough trust to keep them from leaving. The estimated cost of turnover is thousands of dollars per employee , so in addition to making limited staff more efficient, this also clearly impacts the bottom line.

Automate Manual Tasks: One way restaurants can improve workplace culture is by automating manual administrative tasks. This eliminates daily headaches and frees up more time for workers to do what they do best: prepare food and provide hospitality. For example, restaurants can integrate their online ordering technology with their point-of-sale (POS) system, eliminating the need for staff to manually communicate direct online orders to the kitchen.

Restaurant Job Description Templates

Hire faster with 33 templates for front-of-house, back-of-house and specialized restaurant job postings.

Step 6: Market Your Restaurant

For new restaurants, it can take months or even years to build up a group of regulars who come in every week or two. Even after that, restaurants need to keep their patrons engaged while simultaneously appealing to even more new customers.This is where the restaurant’s marketing comes in. In addition to a branding and positioning strategy, restaurants engage in  campaigns  such as events and promotions, which they communicate to customers through  channels  such as websites and social media. All of these ideas are summarized in a restaurant marketing plan.

Elements of a Restaurant Marketing Plan

Branding & Positioning:  A detailed overview of how the restaurant aims to be perceived by potential customers. This section should provide an overview of the restaurant’s target audience (its size, demographics, challenges, etc.) and how it plans to appeal to people with those attributes. This includes specific elements such as the logo, brand colors, tagline and tone of voice. The more those elements connect with the attributes of the audience, the more successful they will be.

Online Marketing Strategy:  An outline of digital activities and channels the restaurant will use to reach customers. The most important digital channel is the restaurant's website , which should be optimized with search engine optimization (SEO) tools and connect to the restaurant's Google My Business profile. Other important digital channels include organic social media, paid social media, email, loyalty programs and reviews. See the section below for more details on each.

Traditional Marketing Strategy:  An outline of non-digital activities and channels the restaurant will use to reach customers. This might include direct mail, community engagement, out-of-home (OOH) ads like billboards or traditional media ads in newspapers, magazines, radio or TV. Any other engagement strategies that take place offline — like handing out loyalty punch cards or hosting ticketed events — should also be included here.

Timeline & Roadmap:  A breakdown of when you plan to begin each marketing initiative. As a new restaurant, you are unlikely to launch all of the channels from your marketing strategy on Day 1. The timeline & roadmap section sets realistic — but ambitious — expectations for when each will be active. For example, you may decide that an SEO-optimized website, organic social media and email marketing are needed for launch, while paid social media ads can wait until Year 2.

Budget & KPIs:  A breakdown of what you will spend on marketing and how you will measure success. Failing to set KPIs is among the most common mistakes in restaurant marketing. If you plan to invest $5,000 in paid social ads in the first year, you need to forecast the website traffic, online checkouts and revenue those ads will generate. That way, you can analyze performance, determine if the ads were successful and apply that knowledge to future marketing budgets.

Key Online Marketing Channels for Restaurants

Website:  More than 75% of diners visit a restaurant's website before deciding where to dine, and 68% of have been discouraged from visiting due to the website. Restaurants need to recognize their website for what it is — a modern extension of the front-of-house experience — and turn it into the money maker it should be. In addition to being well-designed and telling a brand story, websites should have built-in SEO capabilities, commerce features like online ordering and merchandise stores and operational features like private event management.

Email:  Another perk of having a website with direct online ordering? It allows restaurants to capture diner emails, add them to a list and re-engage them with email marketing. The rise of direct online ordering, combined with innovations such as automated email campaigns and digital loyalty programs , have made email marketing the premier channel for reaching past diners. If your goal is to increase lifetime customer value, a robust email strategy is essential.

Organic Social Media:  Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even TikTok allow restaurants to post content and build communities of followers. The right mix of platforms for your restaurant likely depends on your audience, with Facebook for example skewing older and more rural, while TikTok skews younger and "trendier." Instagram has the best mix of a broad, engaged audience, native food communities and restaurant tools such as story ordering stickers . 

Paid Social Media:  In addition to building organic communities, restaurants can use social media to run performance ads. This is especially important for new restaurants, since it takes time to build followers — but even once they have followers, paid is often essential to reach a big audience. The idea of running paid ads can be intimidating, but social ad platforms are more user-friendly than many realize, and even small spends like $50-100 are enough to make a meaningful impact. See here for a  beginner's guide to Facebook and Instagram ads .

Reviews:  Love them or hate them, review websites such as Yelp and Google Reviews are massively important consideration factors. The best way to thrive on review websites is to offer a great guest experience, but there are other ways to engage in review management. Namely, restaurants can monitor all reviews they receive, respond diplomatically to negative reviews and incentivize positive reviews from their most loyal customers.

Step 7: Open Your Doors!

It’s an exciting time to open a restaurant. Diners are always on the lookout for a new place to try a great meal, and restaurants have an abundance of technology and resources that make running the business and delighting guests more efficient than ever.

However, running a restaurant is no cakewalk. Those opening a new restaurant need to prepare for the challenges of planning, hiring and marketing for the business with resilience and a true passion for hospitality. These are the people who make the most beloved restaurants in their communities and turn their nugget of an idea into a successful restaurant business.


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How to Write a Small Restaurant Business Plan + Free Sample Plan PDF

Group of seven individuals standing around inside of the entrance of a restaurant. Two are speaking with the owner, who just finished planning for his restaurant, preparing to order food.

Makenna Crocker

10 min. read

Updated March 18, 2024

Free Download:  Sample Restaurant Business Plan Template

From greasy spoon diners to Michelin Star restaurants, food service has captured the hearts and imaginations of countless culinary entrepreneurs.

In the United States, 90% of restaurant owners operate small restaurants with fewer than 50 employees . And 70% operate in just one location.

If you’re passionate about food and dream of opening a restaurant, you have plenty of company. But cooking skills alone won’t cut it. You need a plan.

In this article, we’ll walk you through writing a small restaurant business plan, from conducting market research to developing promotional strategies and creating a financial forecast. 

Need more guidance? Download our free small restaurant business plan template .

Why write a small restaurant business plan?

Starting a restaurant from scratch isn’t cheap.  Startup costs range from $175,000 to $750,000 and include hefty upfront expenses like:

  • Building lease
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Ingredient sourcing

The financials section of a business plan gives you space to compile these costs into an expense budget and compare them to your revenue projections . These will be invaluable in helping you determine if your restaurant concept is financially viable.

And if you need a bank loan or investor to help fund your restaurant , they’ll want to see a plan that includes financial projections (more on that later).

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  • How to write a small restaurant business plan

The business plan is not only where you lay out your plan, vision, and goals for the restaurant – it pushes you to thoroughly research and understand your market , competitors , and customers to make informed decisions. It guides you through the intricacies of opening and running a small restaurant and helps you keep your finances in order.

Here are some tips for writing a small restaurant business plan that sets you up for success.

  • Start with a company overview

A good place to start is to think about the big picture. What do you want your restaurant to be? Are you envisioning upscale dining in a candlelit, intimate setting? Or maybe you’re going for comfort food in a family-friendly atmosphere?

Capture the essence of your restaurant with a brief, attention-grabbing overview. Think of the start of your overview section as an elevator pitch. You’re introducing your concept and vision to highlight what will make your business unique .

Just keep it succinct. 

You’ll need to include other important information about your business here, such as the legal structure of your business and the qualifications of you and your management team.

If you’re writing a business for an existing restaurant, you should also cover its history – when the restaurant was founded, who was involved, and milestones it has reached.

  • Understand your target market

Conducting a thorough market analysis is key to the success of your small restaurant. In an industry as competitive as the restaurant business, you’ll need to have your finger on the pulse of your dining market if you hope to create a unique offering.

Defining your target market is essential when starting your restaurant, helping answer questions like:

  • Is there demand in the local market for your food?
  • Who are your primary competitors? 
  • Is there building space for lease near where your target customers live or work?
  • What types of partnerships with food distributors (wholesalers, farmers, butchers, etc.) will be needed to ensure a steady flow of fresh ingredients?

The first step is to identify who your diners will be. 

It’s unrealistic to try to appeal to every single customer. So, ask yourself who you envision walking through your doors. Are they:

  • Adults aged 40 and over, with lots of disposable income and exotic culinary tastes.
  • Children, young adults, and families looking for quick, convenient food that doesn’t stretch their budgets.

Of course, these aren’t the only two customer demographics for a restaurant. But you should get the sense that these customer segments have very different preferences.

Read more: Target market example

Understanding your target market involves more than just demographics. Consider their:

  • Spending habits
  • Daily routines

If you plan to operate in a busy city center, your target market might include working professionals seeking quick lunch options or upscale dining options after work. But if you’re opening in a less visible area near residential neighborhoods, you may be more likely to target families.

  • Size up your competition

With a target customer in mind, you need to understand who you’ll be competing with for their dining budget.

Analyzing your competitors is about understanding their strengths, weaknesses, and strategies. 

Start by identifying direct competitors (other small restaurants) and indirect competitors (like fast-food chains or food trucks). Observe how they attract customers, the ambiance they create, and the variety and pricing of their menus.

Get a feel for their operational strategies:

  • How much staffing do they have?
  • How fast (or slow) is their service?
  • What kinds of supplier relationships do they seem to have?

And their marketing tactics :

  • How do they engage with customers?
  • What deals or promotions do they offer?
  • What kind of reviews are they getting online?

Finally, think about their long-term position: 

  • Have they expanded or downsized recently?
  • Have they changed their operating hours?
  • Have they changed their menu?

As you observe these competitors and their customers, ask yourself what they are doing right and where they are coming up short. 

This knowledge will help you identify gaps in the market and opportunities to offer a unique experience.

  • Create a detailed operations plan

With so many moving pieces to manage as a restaurant owner, writing an operations plan is just as important as creating a market analysis.

The operations section of your business plan details how your restaurant will function daily. 

It should briefly touch on every aspect of running the business–from staffing needs to how often you will need to buy new ingredients, kitchen equipment, or dining utensils.

Your operations plan will reflect the unique needs of your business, but a typical restaurant operations plan might include:

  • Staffing and training: Lay out a staffing plan, with the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Include strategies for hiring, training, and employee retention.
  • Equipment and technology: Outline your dining, kitchen, and technology needs, from tables and chairs to ovens and point-of-sale systems.
  • Supply chain management: Explain your ingredient sourcing and inventory management strategies and your plan to build relationships with suppliers.
  • Customer service policies: Describe how you manage customer service needs and feedback to ensure a positive dining experience.
  • Health and safety protocols: Detail procedures for maintaining kitchen hygiene practices and food handling standards to ensure food safety and compliance with health regulations.

Without an operations plan, you’ll lack a documented strategy for managing your kitchen workflow, maintaining customer satisfaction, or even basic tasks like inventory or staffing.

And if you’re writing a business plan to get a bank loan or investment , they’ll want to see that you have a plan for successfully managing the restaurant. 

  • Actively market your restaurant

Your small restaurant may serve the most mouthwatering dishes in town, but no one will discover it without effective promotional strategies. 

You need to develop a comprehensive marketing plan to showcase your culinary delights and entice customers through your doors.

Consider both traditional and digital marketing channels to reach your target audience. Traditional methods may include:

  • Hosting special events
  • Participating in local food festivals
  • Partnering with complementary businesses in your community

Digital strategies may include:

  • Creating an engaging website
  • Building a strong presence on social media platforms
  • Utilizing online review platforms to build credibility and foster positive word-of-mouth.

When developing your promotional strategies, consider the following tips:

Be smart about your online presence

Build a visually appealing and user-friendly website that showcases your restaurant’s ambiance, menu, and story. 

Leverage social media platforms to engage with your audience, share enticing food photos, and run targeted advertising campaigns.

Consider promotions

Encourage repeat business by implementing a loyalty program that rewards customers for their patronage. Offer incentives such as discounts to certain customer segments, like seniors, veterans, or students.

Engage with the local community

Participate in community events, sponsor local sports teams or charity initiatives, and establish partnerships with neighboring businesses. 

Becoming an active community member will build brand awareness and loyalty.

Don’t ignore your pricing and financial strategy

According to data from the National Restaurant Association , about 60% of restaurants fail in their first year, and 80% close within five years.

You need to understand your startup and ongoing operating expenses to run a successful small restaurant.

Start by estimating your startup costs , including:

  • Site acquisition (down payment if owning the space, initial payment if leasing)
  • Building improvements
  • Equipment purchases
  • Licenses and permits
  • Initial inventory
  • Menu creation

Then, account for ongoing operating expenses, such as:

  • Employee wages
  • Mortgage or rent payments
  • Ingredient costs

Pricing your menu items strategically is essential to ensuring profitability. Analyze ingredient costs, consider portion sizes, and compare prices in your local market to determine competitive yet profitable pricing.

Conduct a break-even analysis to determine the number of customers you need to serve to cover costs and start generating profits. Regularly review your financials and adjust your pricing as needed to maintain a healthy bottom line.

Consider these financial aspects when developing your small restaurant business plan:

Budget Allocation

Determine how you will allocate your budget across different areas of your restaurant, such as kitchen equipment, interior design, marketing, and staff training.

Prioritize investments that will have a direct impact on customer experience and operational efficiency.

Revenue Streams

Identify multiple revenue streams for your restaurant. This may include revenue from food sales, catering services, private events, or partnerships with local businesses.

Diversifying your revenue sources can help stabilize your cash flow.

Cost Control

Develop strategies to control costs without compromising quality. Efficient inventory management, negotiation with suppliers, and staff training on waste reduction can contribute to cost savings.

Sales Forecasting

Create a sales forecast based on your market research, pricing strategy, and seating capacity. Consider seasonal fluctuations and special events that may impact your restaurant’s performance.

Other information to include in your small restaurant business plan

As a restaurant owner, a few components of your business plan are unique to your industry. 

None of these fit neatly into any one section of a business plan. We suggest addressing them in additional sections or within the appendix .

Restaurant location and layout

Include information about your restaurant’s location . 

Some of this information will be included in your market analysis, but once you’ve secured a location, you should go deeper and analyze factors like:

  • Rent and utilities
  • Foot traffic
  • Parking availability
  • Nearby businesses

Explaining the layout of your restaurant – especially your kitchen – is also important. Consider adding photos or diagrams of each room to your plan. 

Diagrams can be especially helpful. You can add in-depth details for seating arrangements in the dining room or how staff should move efficiently throughout the kitchen.

What do many people do before deciding whether to eat at a restaurant? 

They look at the menu.

You can gain or lose customers on the strength of your menu. It affects numerous business areas, from marketing to pricing and operations.

For instance, if you’re running a family-friendly restaurant but your prices are too high, people will see that on your menu and may decide to eat somewhere cheaper. 

On the other hand, if you’re running a fine dining restaurant , but your menu fails to describe your dishes in an appealing way, diners may go somewhere they perceive as having higher quality meals.

That makes the business plan a great place to create menu concepts. 

You can experiment with different offerings, price points, and menu designs until you’re confident about sharing them with customers. 

And since business plans are continuously updated as your business changes—you can see how your menu has changed over time and what’s been most successful.

Download your free small restaurant business plan template

If you’re ready to start a restaurant, you can download our free small restaurant business plan template from our library of over 550 sample business plans . 

Get started today, and discover why businesses that plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t .

More restaurant business plan examples:

  • Food truck business plan
  • Coffee shop business plan
  • Bakery business plan
  • Brewery business plan

Content Author: Makenna Crocker

Makenna Crocker is the Marketing Specialist at Richardson Sports. Her work focuses on market and social trends, crafting gripping and authentic content, and enhancing marketing strategy to foster stronger B2B and B2C relationships. With a master’s degree in Advertising and Brand Responsibility from the University of Oregon, she specializes in generating a strong and responsible brand presence through content that positively influences and inspires others.

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Table of Contents

  • Why you need a plan
  • Don’t ignore your pricing and financial strategy
  • Additional info to include
  • Free business plan template

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Restaurant Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + examples

Dreaming of opening a 🍴 restaurant? Passion, creativity, and delicious food are key. But for long-term success, a business plan is essential too.

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Maja Jankowska

resOS - your restaurant system

Are you dreaming of owning your own restaurant? Picture the sizzle of a hot skillet, the laughter of satisfied guests, and the fulfillment of sharing your culinary creations with the world. But before you dive into this flavorful adventure, there’s a crucial ingredient you can’t overlook: a winning restaurant business plan.

Restaurant business plan with step by step guide

What is a business plan for?

A business plan is a vital document for every restaurant owner. It provides a roadmap for success, helps secure funding, guides financial and operational decisions, mitigates risks, and facilitates effective communication. 

Just like any other business, a restaurant needs a well-crafted business plan to ensure its success and sustainability. Without a business plan, you risk operating in the dark, making decisions on a whim, and facing unexpected challenges that could have been avoided. 

Investing time and effort into creating a solid business plan sets your restaurant on the path to achieving your culinary dreams and exceeding customer expectations.

Create Restaurant’s Business Plan in these 9 steps:

✔️ 1. Start with an executive summary ✔️ 2. Describe your concept ✔️ 3. Conduct Market analysis ✔️ 4. Define your management and organization ✔️ 5. Give a sample “yummy”  Menu ✔️ 6. Create design and branding ✔️ 7. Provide a Location ✔️ 8. Establish Marketing plan ✔️ 9. Define Financial plan

1. Executive summary

The executive summary is like the appetizer of your restaurant business plan – it’s the first bite that leaves a lasting impression. Its purpose is to capture the essence of your entire plan and entice time-crunched reviewers, such as potential investors and lenders, to delve deeper into your vision. It’s worth noting that the executive summary should be the final section you write.

To craft a concise and captivating summary, it’s crucial to highlight key points, including your unique concept, target market, and financial projections. Additionally, bear in mind that the executive summary sets the tone for the rest of your plan, so it’s essential to make it irresistible and leave readers yearning for more.

When it comes to the executive summary of your restaurant business plan, brevity is key . You have only one page to capture the attention of readers, but don’t worry, it’s definitely doable. Here’s what your executive summary should include:

  • Restaurant concept : What does your business do?
  • Goals and vision : What does your business want to achieve?
  • Restaurant differentiation : What makes your menu/concept different, and what sets you apart?
  • Projected financial state : What revenue do you anticipate?
  • The team : Who is involved in the business?

2. Describe your concept

In the world of restaurant business plans, there’s a section that holds immense importance. It’s the one that answers two fundamental questions: Who are you, and what do you plan to do?

This is the section where you fully introduce your company, and it deserves special attention. Share all the important details that paint a vivid picture of your unique business. Include the restaurant’s name, location, and contact information. Additionally, provide relevant details such as the chef’s background and what makes your restaurant stand out in the market.

Curious about concept creation? Watch our short video featuring a summary of an example restaurant concept below! 👇

Now is your opportunity to showcase your vision and establish a unique identity for your restaurant. Utilize this section to highlight what sets you apart and capture the reader’s imagination.

3. Market analysis

Market analysis helps you understand your potential customers, competition, and overall restaurant market trends. It’s like having a crystal ball to shape your restaurant’s success.

Target audience 

When it comes to your potential market, you want to know how many people are hungry for what you’re serving. Sounds exciting, right? To estimate this, you’ll gather data on your target customers, like their age group or preferences, and combine it with industry trends. It’s like finding the perfect recipe to satisfy their cravings.


Now, let’s tackle the competition. Every restaurant has rivals, even if they’re serving a unique dish. It’s crucial to identify direct or indirect competitors and understand what makes you stand out. Are you offering affordable prices, a one-of-a-kind experience, or catering to a specific niche? Highlight your “secret sauce” that sets you apart from the rest.

Market analysis for restaurant’s business plan

Market analysis also involves a SWOT analysis. Don’t let the jargon scare you. It simply means evaluating your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Think of it as a superhero assessment for your restaurant. Identify what you excel at, areas for improvement, potential market opportunities, and external factors that could impact your success.

example of SWOT analysis for the restaurant

Example of SWOT analysis for a restaurant

Remember, market analysis is like a compass guiding your restaurant’s journey. It helps you make informed decisions, attract investors, and stay ahead of the game. So, embrace the power of market analysis, and let it shape the destiny of your delicious dining destination.

4. Management and organization

Effective management and organization are critical for success in the restaurant sector. This section of your business plan introduces the talented individuals who will lead your restaurant to new heights.

Outline your legal structure, whether it’s an S corporation, limited partnership, or sole proprietorship, providing key information for stakeholders.

Showcase your management team using an organizational chart to highlight their roles, responsibilities, and contributions. Their expertise and guidance are crucial for seamless operations and exceptional customer experiences.

With a strong management team in place, your restaurant is poised for success. They are the driving force behind your journey to greatness. Let’s meet the key players who will make it happen!

Streamline your operations and optimize your financial performance With resOs , you can efficiently manage reservations, track inventory, analyze sales data, and streamline your overall workflow. Get your FREE plan

5. Sample “yummy” Menu 

In the restaurant industry, your menu plays a main role as the core product. Include a section in your business plan that highlights key details about your menu offerings to engage readers.

If you offer a diverse range of dishes, provide a brief overview of each category. Alternatively, if your menu focuses on specific specialties or signature dishes, provide more detailed descriptions for each item.

You can also mention any upcoming menu additions or unique culinary creations that will enhance profitability and attract customers.

6. Design and branding 

When it comes to starting a restaurant, don’t underestimate the power of design and branding. They’re the secret ingredients that can make your establishment truly stand out. Think about it – when customers walk through your front door, what do they see? The right design and branding can instantly captivate their attention and make them feel right at home.

So, take some time to envision the overall aesthetic and mood you want to create.

Do you imagine a cozy and rustic setting or a sleek and modern vibe?

Let your creativity shine through! Include captivating photos of similar restaurants that inspire you and give potential investors a glimpse of your vision.

And don’t forget about your logo! If you’ve already designed one, proudly showcase it in your business plan. It’s the visual representation of your restaurant’s personality and will help establish brand recognition.

Custom design of your restaurant booking system with resOS

resOS’ customizable interface for your booking system

Stand out in the competitive restaurant industry with resOS’ customizable booking management system . Personalize every aspect of the interface to reflect your restaurant’s unique brand identity. Seamlessly integrate your logo, colors, and visual elements, creating a cohesive and immersive experience for your guests. With resOS, you have the power to revolutionize your restaurant’s image and leave a lasting impression.

Details matter too! Share your plans for specific design elements , from the choice of furniture to the color palette that will adorn your space. The more you paint a vivid picture, the more investors and customers will be enticed by your unique ambiance.

7. Location

For a restaurant, location can make or break the business. Occasionally, a restaurant concept is so good that people go out of their way to find it. But, more realistically, your location needs to be convenient for your target market. If it’s hard for your customers to get to you, hard for them to park, and not something they notice as they drive by, they’re unlikely to check your restaurant out.

In your business plan, make sure to discuss the potential locations that you hope to occupy, assuming you haven’t already secured the location. Explain why the location is ideal for your target market and how the location will help attract customers.

Unlock the potential of your restaurant’s location and streamline reservations with resOS. Our platform offers seamless integration with Reserve With Google , allowing customers to easily discover and book tables directly from Google search results and maps. By enabling this feature, you’ll maximize your restaurant’s visibility and attract more diners with just a few clicks. Experience the power of location-based reservations with resOS .

Be sure to explain the complete costs of your location and what kinds of renovations will be necessary to open your restaurant.

8. Marketing plan

In today’s competitive restaurant industry, it’s important to showcase your marketing strategy to investors. They want to know how you’ll create buzz and keep it going before and after your grand opening.

business plan for opening a new restaurant

Create a winning business plan with a strong marketing focus. Our Restaurant Business Plan Steps Graphic (👆 see above) is your visual guide, including key marketing strategies. Download or save for later and plan your path to success.

Whether you’ve enlisted a top-notch Marketing company or have a solid ready-to-go marketing plan, highlight your chosen path. Discuss the unique strengths of your selected agency and why they stand out, including their notable clients. Alternatively, showcase your in-house plan, leveraging social media, your website, and valuable media connections.

A well-crafted marketing plan holds the key to differentiating your restaurant and attracting customers. Prepare to tantalize taste buds and offer an exceptional dining experience. Stay in tune with the latest restaurant industry trends, leverage effective marketing tools, and optimize your online presence. 

Lastly, integrate a robust restaurant booking system to streamline reservations and enhance the overall customer experience. With these strategic elements in place, success is within your reach.

9. Financial Plan

Financial analysis is a crucial part of your restaurant’s business plan. It helps investors assess the profitability of your concept and whether it’s a worthwhile investment. In this section, you’ll outline how you plan to allocate your funds in the first year and provide projections for costs and revenues.

Here are the 🔑 key components to include:

Investment Plan: Explain the initial investment costs, such as kitchen equipment, furniture, employee wages, legal fees, marketing expenses, and working capital. This shows how you’ll use your funds effectively.

Profit and Loss Projection: Estimate your restaurant’s costs and sales figures in the profit and loss statement. Consider factors like the size of your establishment, your target market, and the existing competition in your chosen location.

Break-Even Analysis: Show investors the monthly revenue you need to achieve to cover all your expenses and reach profitability. This analysis considers overhead costs, operational expenses, and factors that may affect revenue fluctuations throughout the year.

Claim your FREE plan on resOS today! Ready to revolutionize your business management? Join for FREE and take control of your operations. ✅ Seamless calendar integration ✅ Customizable booking forms ✅ Automated reminders ✅ Real-time availability updates Don’t miss out! Sign up now at and experience stress-free scheduling. Your time is valuable, so claim your FREE plan today!

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Restaurant Business Plan Template & PDF Example

Avatar photo

  • July 23, 2024
  • Business Plan

the business plan template for a restaurant

Creating a comprehensive business plan is crucial for launching and running a successful restaurant. This plan serves as your roadmap, detailing your vision, operational strategies, and financial plan. It helps establish your restaurant’s identity, navigate the competitive market, and secure funding for growth.

This article not only breaks down the critical components of a restaurant business plan, but also provides an example of a business plan to help you craft your own.

Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or new to the food and beverage industry, this guide, complete with a business plan example, lays the groundwork for turning your restaurant concept into reality. Let’s dive in!

Our restaurant business plan is structured to cover all essential aspects needed for a comprehensive strategy. It outlines the restaurant’s operations, marketing strategy, market environment, competitors, management team, and financial forecasts.

  • Executive Summary : Offers an overview of the restaurant’s business concept, market analysis , management, and financial strategy.
  • Restaurant & Location: Describes the restaurant’s prime location, size, seating capacity, and distinctive design, emphasizing its appeal to the target demographic.
  • Supply & Operations: Outlines the supply chain management, focusing on local sourcing and quality ingredients, and details the operational aspects, including kitchen layout, equipment, and front-of-house operations.
  • Key Stats: Shares industry size , growth trends, and relevant statistics for the full-service restaurant market.
  • Key Trends: Highlights recent trends affecting the restaurant sector, such as health-conscious dining, sustainability, and technology integration.
  • Key Competitors: Analyzes the main competitors in the vicinity, showcasing the restaurant’s unique selling proposition in comparison.
  • SWOT : Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis.
  • Marketing Plan : Strategies for promoting the restaurant to maximize visibility and customer engagement.
  • Timeline : Key milestones and objectives from the initial setup through the launch and operational optimization.
  • Management: Information on who manages the restaurant and their roles.
  • Financial Plan: Projects the restaurant’s financial performance, including revenue, profits, and expected expenses, aiming for profitability and sustainable growth.

business plan for opening a new restaurant

Restaurant Business Plan

business plan for opening a new restaurant

Fully editable 30+ slides Powerpoint presentation business plan template.

Download an expert-built 30+ slides Powerpoint business plan template

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary introduces your restaurant’s business plan, offering a concise overview of your establishment and its offerings. It should detail your market positioning, the variety of cuisines and dining experiences you offer, its location, size, and an outline of day-to-day operations. 

This section should also explore how your restaurant will integrate into the local market, including the number of direct competitors within the area, identifying who they are, along with your restaurant’s unique selling points that differentiate it from these competitors. 

Furthermore, you should include information about the management and co-founding team, detailing their roles and contributions to the restaurant’s success. Additionally, a summary of your financial projections, including revenue and profits over the next five years, should be presented here to provide a clear picture of your restaurant’s financial plan.

Restaurant Business Plan Executive Summary Example

Restaurant Business Plan executive summary1

Business Overview

The  business overview  should detail the restaurant’s specific features, such as its seating capacity, ambiance, and supply chain practices. It’s important to emphasize how the restaurant caters to its target demographic through its strategic location and operational model.

Example: “[Your Restaurant Name],” located in [specific area or neighborhood], covers [total square footage] sq ft and includes a main dining area, bar, and outdoor patio, offering a total of [number of seats] seats. The restaurant’s commitment to quality is reflected in its locally sourced produce and sustainable supply chain practices, catering to a diverse clientele.

Market Overview

This section involves analyzing the size, growth, and trends of the full-service restaurant market. It should address the industry’s digital transformation, health-conscious dining preferences, and eco-friendly practices, positioning the restaurant within the broader market context.

Example: “[Your Restaurant Name]” enters a U.S. full-service restaurant market valued at $293 billion. The restaurant’s focus on technology, healthier menu options, and sustainability aligns well with current  market trends  and consumer preferences, setting it apart from six main competitors in the area.

Management Team

Detailing the management team’s background and expertise is crucial. This section should highlight how their experience in culinary arts and restaurant management contributes to the success of the restaurant.

Example: The Executive Chef and Co-Owner of “[Your Restaurant Name]” leads menu development and kitchen operations, ensuring high-quality food preparation and presentation. The General Manager and Co-Owner manages daily operations, staff, customer service, and financial aspects, ensuring a seamless dining experience.

Financial Plan

This section should outline the restaurant’s financial goals and projections, including revenue targets and profit margins, providing a clear picture of its financial aspirations and health.

Example: “[Your Restaurant Name]” aims to achieve $2.7 million in annual revenue with an 11%  EBITDA  margin by 2028. This financial goal is supported by a focus on quality dining experiences, strategic marketing, and operational efficiency, positioning the restaurant for growth in the  competitive  full-service restaurant market.

For a Restaurant, the Business Overview section can be concisely divided into 2 main slides:

Restaurant & Location

Briefly describe the restaurant’s physical environment, emphasizing its design, ambiance, and the overall dining experience it offers to guests. Mention the restaurant’s location, highlighting its accessibility and the convenience it offers to diners, such as proximity to entertainment venues or ease of parking. Explain why this location is advantageous in attracting your target clientele.

Supply & Operations

Detail the range of cuisines and dishes offered, from appetizers and main courses to desserts and specialty beverages. Outline your sourcing strategy, ensuring it reflects a commitment to quality and sustainability, and matches the market you’re targeting.

Highlight any unique culinary techniques, exclusive ingredients, or innovative kitchen technologies that set your restaurant apart. Discuss your operational strategies, including inventory management, supplier relationships, and kitchen workflow, to ensure efficiency and consistency in delivering exceptional dining experiences.

Business Plan_Pizzeria restaurant

Industry size & growth

In the Market Overview of your restaurant business plan, start by examining the size of the restaurant industry and its growth potential. This analysis is crucial for understanding the market’s scope and identifying expansion opportunities.

Key market trends

Proceed to discuss recent market trends , such as the increasing consumer interest in farm-to-table dining, ethnic cuisines, and experiential dining experiences.

For example, highlight the demand for restaurants that offer unique cultural dishes, the growing popularity of health-conscious and dietary-specific menus, and the integration of technology in enhancing the dining experience.

Competitive Landscape

A  competitive analysis  is not just a tool for gauging the position of your restaurant in the market and its key competitors; it’s also a fundamental component of your business plan.

This analysis helps in identifying your restaurant’s unique selling points, essential for differentiating your business in a  competitive  market.

In addition, competitive analysis is integral in laying a solid foundation for your business plan. By examining various operational aspects of your competitors, you gain valuable information that ensures your business plan is robust, informed, and tailored to succeed in the current market environment.

Identifying Competitors in the Restaurant Industry

To comprehensively understand the competitive landscape, start by identifying both direct and indirect competitors in your area. Direct competitors are restaurants offering similar cuisines or targeting a comparable customer base. For instance, if your restaurant specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine, other nearby Mexican restaurants are direct competitors. Indirect competitors may include food trucks, cafes, or even fast-casual eateries offering diverse menus that overlap with your offerings.

Leverage digital tools like Google Maps, Yelp, or food delivery apps to map out the locations of your competitors. Reviews and ratings on platforms like TripAdvisor and social media can offer valuable insights into competitors’  strengths and weaknesses . Positive reviews highlighting exceptional service or a unique dining experience at a competitor’s restaurant can signify an area of focus for differentiation and improvement.

Restaurant Business Plan key competitors

Restaurant Competitors’ Strategies

To conduct a comprehensive analysis, delve into various aspects of your competitors’ operations:

  • Menu Offerings:  Assess the breadth and uniqueness of dishes offered by competitors. Take note if any local restaurants are gaining traction by focusing on farm-to-table ingredients, regional specialties, or offering innovative fusion cuisines, as these aspects often indicate emerging  market trends .
  • Service and Ambiance:  Evaluate the overall customer experience. Identify if there’s a competitor renowned for its fine dining experience, another known for its trendy and vibrant atmosphere, or one that excels in providing a casual, family-friendly environment. These elements significantly contribute to a restaurant’s success and differentiation.
  • Pricing and Positioning:  Compare pricing strategies . Determine whether competitors are positioned as budget-friendly eateries or if they adopt a more upscale approach with premium pricing, highlighting gourmet ingredients, or exclusive dining experiences.
  • Marketing Channels :  Analyze how competitors market their restaurants. Do they leverage social media platforms for promotions, engage in collaborations with local influencers, or host special events or themed nights? Understanding their marketing tactics provides insights into effective promotional strategies that resonate with the  target audience .
  • Operational Efficiency:  Observe if competitors have adopted technological advancements such as online reservations, mobile apps for ordering, or contactless payment systems. These innovations not only streamline operations but also contribute to an enhanced customer experience.

What’s Your Restaurant’s Value Proposition?

Reflect on what uniquely distinguishes your restaurant from the competition. It could be your innovative fusion of cuisines, a strong emphasis on locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, or perhaps a distinctive ambiance that reflects a particular cultural theme or historical narrative.

Listen attentively to customer feedback and observe emerging industry trends to identify gaps or unmet demands in the market. For instance, if there’s a growing interest in plant-based dining experiences and competitors have not tapped into this niche, it could present an opportunity for your restaurant to cater to this demand and stand out.

Consider how your restaurant’s location influences your strategy. A downtown location might warrant a focus on quick service and catering to office lunch crowds, while a suburban setting could embrace a more relaxed, family-friendly dining environment.

Restaurant Business Plan strategy

First, conduct a SWOT analysis for the restaurant , highlighting Strengths (such as a unique menu and exceptional customer service), Weaknesses (including potential high operational costs or strong competition in the area), Opportunities (for example, a growing interest in diverse cuisines and healthy eating), and Threats (such as economic downturns that may decrease consumer spending on dining out).

Restaurant Business Plan SWOT

Marketing Plan

Next, develop a marketing strategy that outlines how to attract and retain customers through targeted advertising, promotional discounts, an engaging social media presence, food blogger outreach, and community involvement, such as local events or charity sponsorships.

Marketing Channels

Utilize various marketing channels to engage with your audience and attract new patrons.

Digital Marketing

  • Social Media:  Utilize social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to showcase your restaurant’s ambiance, signature dishes, behind-the-scenes glimpses, chef profiles, and customer testimonials. Regularly engage with your audience by responding to comments, hosting interactive polls, or sharing user-generated content.
  • Email Marketing:  I mplement an email marketing strategy to build a loyal customer base. Offer incentives such as exclusive recipes, promotional offers, or early access to special events in exchange for subscribing to your newsletter. Regularly communicate with your subscribers, sharing updates, promotions, and stories that resonate with your brand.
  • Website and SEO:  Maintain an  informative website showcasing your menu , chef profiles, reservation options, and reviews. Optimize it for local SEO to ensure visibility in searches related to your cuisine and location.

Local Advertising

  • Printed Materials:  Distribute well-designed flyers in nearby neighborhoods, advertise in local magazines, and collaborate with tourism centers or hotels for exposure.
  • Community Engagement:  Sponsor local events, collaborate with food bloggers or influencers, and participate in food festivals or charity events to increase brand visibility and community involvement.
  • Partnerships:  Forge partnerships with complementary businesses (such as wine shops or local farmers’ markets) for cross-promotions or collaborative events.

Promotional Activities

Engage potential customers through enticing offers and events.

  • Special Offers:  Launch promotions like ‘Chef’s Tasting Menu Nights’ or ‘Happy Hour Discounts’ to attract new diners and retain regulars.
  • Loyalty Programs:  Implement a loyalty system offering rewards for frequent visits or referrals, such as a free appetizer or dessert after a certain number of visits.
  • Events and Special Occasions:  Host themed nights, seasonal menus, or exclusive culinary events to create buzz and attract diverse audiences.

Restaurant Business Plan marketing plan

Sales Channels

Efficiently manage  sales channels  to maximize revenue and customer satisfaction.

In-Restaurant Upselling

  • Menu Strategies:  Highlight premium dishes or chef’s specials, offer wine pairings or dessert suggestions, and train staff to upsell without being pushy.
  • Merchandising:  Display branded merchandise, specialty sauces, or cookbooks for sale to complement the dining experience.

Online Ordering and Delivery

  • Online Ordering Platform: I mplement an easy-to-use online ordering system for takeout or delivery orders. Offer exclusive online discounts or bundle deals.
  • Delivery Partnerships:  Collaborate with food delivery services or establish in-house delivery for customers’ convenience.

Reservation Management

  • Reservation System:  Utilize an efficient reservation platform to manage bookings. Offer incentives for off-peak reservations or special occasions.

Membership and VIP Programs

Developing membership and VIP programs can cultivate a loyal customer base and drive recurring revenue:

  • VIP Memberships:  Create exclusive membership tiers offering perks like priority reservations, chef’s table access, or private event invitations.
  • Reward Programs:  Develop a digital loyalty system where customers earn points for every dollar spent, redeemable for discounts, exclusive menu items, or special events.

Strategy Timeline

Finally, create a detailed timeline that outlines critical milestones for the restaurant’s opening, marketing campaigns, customer base growth, and expansion objectives, ensuring the business moves forward with clear direction and purpose.

Business Plan Gym Timeline

The management section focuses on the restaurant’s management and their direct roles in daily operations and strategic direction. This part is crucial for understanding who is responsible for making key decisions and driving the restaurant towards its financial and operational goals.

For your restaurant business plan, list the core team members, their specific responsibilities, and how their expertise supports the business.

Restaurant Business Plan management1

The Financial Plan section is a comprehensive analysis of your financial projections for revenue, expenses, and profitability. It lays out your restaurant’s approach to securing funding, managing cash flow, and achieving breakeven.

This section typically includes detailed forecasts for the first 5 years of operation, highlighting expected revenue, operating costs and capital expenditures.

For your restaurant business plan, provide a snapshot of your financial statement (profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow statement), as well as your key assumptions (e.g. number of customers and prices, expenses, etc.).

Make sure to cover here _ Profit and Loss _ Cash Flow Statement _ Balance Sheet _ Use of Funds

Restaurant Business Plan financial plan1

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Home >> #realtalk Blog >> Manage a business >> Opening a Restaurant…

Opening a Restaurant Checklist: All You Need to Know (+Download!)

By Homebase Team

Neon open sign

There’s so much to think about at the beginning of any new business, but opening a new restaurant is its own special recipe. From the business plan to the location to licenses, the pile of pressing tasks can seem overwhelming. If only there was a free, downloadable ‘opening a restaurant’ checklist to help you get started…

Not to worry—we made one! We know that p eople want great places to eat out, and that you want to make that happen. We made the ultimate opening a restaurant checklist so you can spend less time thinking about the details and more time thinking about oxtail. You bring your passion, and we’ll bring what you need to know about the restaurant startup process—and, of course, a downloadable checklist to get you started. Good deal?

What to expect when opening a restaurant.

Entering the restaurant industry can be a dream come true. Whether you’re hoping to build a tight-knit team of fellow foodies, bring joy to your customers, or being your own boss, there’s a lot to recommend the idea of restaurant entrepreneurship.

But restaurants are famously precarious businesses. Up to 80% of restaurants have trouble making it past the first five years of business. Success in this fast-paced and competitive field means following a careful plan for opening, growth, and profitability.

Vision alone won’t see you through the good, the bad, and the ugly of starting a restaurant. Foresee bumps in the road and set yourself up for long-term success with strategic planning. (That’s where our checklist comes in!)

Steps to opening a restaurant.

From the first spark of a restaurant idea all the way through to opening day and beyond, here’s everything you need to know going into your new venture.

1. Choose your restaurant theme, concept, and identity.

The beginning of your new restaurant starts with imagination. Put yourself in the perspective of someone deciding where to eat, and choose a unique concept that’s going to appeal to them. Take this first flash of an idea, then put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and ask yourself:

  • What will this restaurant look like?
  • What style of food and drinks will you specialize in? 
  • What service style will you offer? A full-service restaurant? A grab-and-go counter service place? 
  • Will you source ingredients from local farms or opt for wholesale vendors? 
  • How will this restaurant express who you are and what you stand for? What will your mission and core values be?

Let the ideas flow—you’ll find that they’ll narrow down as you write or type them out. Again and again, this groundwork is going to help you out down the road.

2. Do your market research.

Next comes a biggie: your all-important market research. Take a look at the demographics of the place where you’re planning to do business. Find out what sorts of people live there, considering things like age, income level, and dining preferences. 

Ask yourself to what extent your restaurant will appeal to those groups—creating hypothetical buyer personas is a good idea. Think about what dining experiences are missing in your area and what the competition is. This step will probably take a few weeks, but the more detailed your market research is, the more likely you are to reach a receptive target market. 

3. Write a restaurant business plan.

All successful restaurants rely on a key planning document called a restaurant business plan. This is a written document that lays out your long and short-term goals and your plans for achieving those goals. It’s super helpful not just when it comes to finetuning your ideas, but also when you’re seeking investor funding.

A complete restaurant business plan will include:

  • an executive summary
  • a detailed restaurant description, including design and location
  • market analysis research
  • a sample menu
  • a breakdown of your business structure and staffing needs
  • your planned takeout and delivery options
  • your marketing strategy
  • your financial projections
  • a plan for your restaurant’s website

4. Pick a restaurant location.

Scouting for the right restaurant location goes hand-in-hand with market research as a top priority. You need to make sure you’re choosing the right place for your business. Consider factors like:

  • proximity to your customer base
  • competitors in the area
  • visibility and accessibility by cars and pedestrians
  • labor costs in the area
  • local regulations determining what types of businesses can operate there
  • if you’ll be able to get the needed permits and licenses

You can build, buy, or lease a space depending on how much capital you have, but it all comes down to choosing a location that hits all these marks.

Tip: Neighboring businesses, or even the previous owners or tenants of the building, can give you important insights if you ask around. 

5. Secure your restaurant funding.

Knowing how much it costs to open a restaurant and getting the funds you need is next on your list. The cost is going to depend on factors like the type of restaurant, your service style, your location, and the size of your team.

You’ll need to create a budget for license and permit fees, inventory and equipment costs, building renovations and repairs—think plumbing and electrical issues—team salaries, and recurring costs like hiring and marketing .

Restaurant startup costs range from $175,500–$750,500, according to a recent survey . Most people aren’t coming up with this amount on their own, but securing some form of outside financing. Before you seek funding, go through and understand the different options that exist:

  • A commercial loan directly through a bank. These give you lower interest rates and access to higher amounts of capital. You need a high credit score to qualify.
  • A business line of credit. These function similarly to a credit card and are ideal for smaller expenses. Interest only accumulates as you use the money.
  • A small business loan . These help entrepreneurs finance their restaurants in the short term. You’ll need to put up collateral and give yourself enough time to get approved.
  • Funds from independent investors. An investor or company will provide a sum of money in exchange for a percentage ownership stake.
  • Grant funding. You may be able to secure funds through a non-profit or local government. 
  • Crowdfunding . A crowdfunding site like GoFundMe , Kickstarter , or Indiegogo can be a great platform to raise money for your startup costs.
  • Family and friends. People from your personal circle who believe in you can pitch in as you get on your feet. If you go this route, be sure to stick to a policy of transparency and regular financial updates.

6. Choose a business structure.

Figure out which type of legal business structure you should use. This is the first of a series of steps you should do with a legal expert (ideally with restaurant experience) and a tax advisor to advise you. With their help, decide which structure makes the most sense for you.

The most common business structures are:

  • sole proprietorship
  • partnership

7. Name your restaurant.

This can be a hard one: choosing a name that’s memorable enough to stand out, yet descriptive enough to communicate your concept without being a mouthful. Your restaurant is your baby, after all—the end product of years of dreaming—so you want to get this part just right.


Your chosen name needs to be available for registration in your state, so check with the Secretary of State’s office to make sure it’s not already registered by another business. If you’re concerned about the rights to use the name nationwide, you could consider trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office ( USPTO ).

8. Register your business.

Next up: legally form your restaurant business. 

Most states require you to register with the Secretary of State’s office, a Business Bureau, or a Business Agency. Look up your state to check. Register under your unique business name and as the kind of legal entity you chose when deciding your business structure.

Federally, as of January 1, 2024, every small business owner who owns one or more restaurants through a legal entity needs to file a beneficial ownership information (BOI) report with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ( FinCEN ).

9. Get federal and state tax IDs.

To start operating as an official business, you’ll need to get an employer identification number (EIN), which is used for tax purposes. It’s free to apply through the IRS . Once you have your EIN, you’ll be authorized to hire people, set up payrolls, pay federal taxes, open a bank account, and apply for licenses and permits.

The process to get a state tax ID number is similar, but it will vary by state depending on whether small businesses pay state taxes. Look up your state to find out.  

10. Open a business bank account.

Once you’ve legally formed your business with an EIN, it’s time to set up the business checking and savings accounts you’ll be using for your restaurant. Things are starting to get real!

11. Apply for licenses and permits.

Now get the licenses and permits you’ll need to legally operate your restaurant. Some required licenses include: 

  • A business license. This lets you legally operate in the country and will vary in cost depending on your state. 
  • A food service license. This lets you legally serve food at your restaurant and is dependent on an inspector visit.
  • A liquor license if you plan to serve alcohol. Research your state’s liquor laws, submitting the required documents and paying the established licensing fee.
  • A certificate of occupancy. This states a legal use and/or a type of permitted occupancy of a building.

This step is a complex one with long wait times, so check the FDA regulations in your state, and consult with your legal counsel to make sure nothing’s overlooked.

12. Decide what payment methods to accept.

Over 40% of customers will abandon their purchase if their preferred payment method isn’t available (among Millennials, the number is even higher). As a restaurant owner, choosing the right payment methods for your business is an important decision.

Look into the pros and cons of each of these methods before deciding which are right for you:

  • credit and debit cards
  • EFTs (electronic funds transfers)
  • mobile payments
  • gift cards and restaurant credit
  • custom payments (split payments, split tender, loyalty programs)

13. Hire your restaurant team.

As anyone in the industry knows, restaurants are people-based as much as they’re food-based. As a restaurant owner, the way you build and lead your team is some of the most valuable work you’ll do.

It’s your job to vet every single role, from bartenders to sous chefs to servers. If you find and train skilled, committed people from the get-go, you’ll create a smooth-running team with high motivation and low turnover : people who’ll stay on board for the long haul. 

14. Invest in restaurant equipment and technology.

Get ready to make a long list. Your menu—which you created when you made your business plan—will help you shape your back-of-house equipment list. Consider each of the following:

  • kitchen prep and cooking (ovens, grills, refrigerators, ice machines, etc.)
  • cooking utensils and tools
  • dishwashing station
  • service items (trays, condiment holders, etc.)
  • disposables
  • bar equipment

When it comes to restaurant technology, it’s best to optimize your team’s processes from day one. You’ll be able to serve more guests, capture more upsells, get more tips, and save on labor dollars if you invest in the following pieces of tech:

  • POS system, including handhelds
  • labor management software
  • online ordering system
  • waitlist & reservation systems

15. Plan your restaurant’s layout.

Time to have some fun and make something pretty—and functional. With a design professional’s input if you can swing it, thoughtfully plan out both your front-of-house and back-of-house layout. Consider these factors when designing your restaurant or bar :

  • seating capacity
  • accessibility
  • lighting, decor, and furniture that ties into your concept
  • restrooms, storage, and cleaning 
  • functional food prep and cooking space
  • dry and cold storage 

16. Set up the kitchen and serving areas.

When setting up your kitchen and serving areas, it’s all about striking a balance to maximize space efficiency, allow for a smooth workflow between the prep and service stations, and meet health and safety regulations.

It’s always a good idea to get input from experienced restaurateurs, as well as the team members you’ve already brought on board who’ll be using these areas.

17. Set your restaurant’s budget.

Now that you’ve considered everything above, you have a lot of budget decisions to make—and some careful calculations to do.

This is another step that can take a lot of time, and all the questions can feel overwhelming. Can you afford design help? Are you going to have to use more wholesale suppliers than you first thought? Does it make sense to buy some of your big pieces of equipment pre-owned? 

Budget carefully and thoroughly—it’s worth it. Both to keep your costs under control, and to reduce uncertainty and stress later on. 

18. Set up your restaurant payroll.

The paperwork for your restaurant is a lot more than just wages and tips. If you’re setting out to run payroll for your restaurant for the first time, following these steps will make the process a whole lot easier each pay period:

  • complete the right legal paperwork for your business structure.
  • form a payroll schedule.
  • calculate payroll taxes.
  • calculate the cost of labor along with gross and net payments.
  • safely store your payroll records .

19. Get business insurance. 

When insuring your new restaurant business, it’s a good idea to find an insurance broker specializing in commercial coverage. They’ll be able to assess your needs and give you quotes for policies that include general liability, property insurance, and workers’ compensation.

20. Create your employee policies and handbook.

Your restaurant employee handbook is going to be your team’s go-to guide for matters big and small. When someone forgets how to request time off, being able to refer to the handbook can save you both time and effort.

A well-written handbook clears up confusion, prevents misunderstandings, and frees you from constantly answering easy questions.

21. Automate your processes with time tracking, POS, accounting and payroll software.

To stay on top of scheduling snags and inflated labor costs , choosing good time tracking software for your restaurant team is an important next step on your list. The ability to build, share, and optimize schedules is going to seamlessly keep everyone on the same page in a way that a manual system won’t.

Even better? A scheduling platform that’s an all-in-one, POS-integrated team management tool. Automating your payroll , admin and HR processes from the beginning will keep everything in one place, cut down on paperwork, and avoid mistakes in your accounting.

22. Market your new restaurant.

Now it’s time to create a marketing plan and start spreading the word about the amazing restaurant you’ve brought to life! Make a strong website and set up social media channels, pulling details from your business plan. Make sure you’re speaking directly to your target audience, using strategies like:

  • content marketing (videos, blogs, reels)
  • email marketing (newsletters, email campaigns)
  • boosted social posts (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn)
  • review sites (Google, Yelp, OpenTable, etc.)
  • food delivery/order apps (Uber Eats, DoorDash, etc.)
  • collaborations (food festivals, pop-ups, special events)

23. Host a soft opening and grand opening.

Time to test your concept. A soft opening is an opportunity to work out any kinks, not to mention take a moment to celebrate with your core team.

Another way to boost interest and/or test whether your restaurant will have legs? Open as a restaurant or food truck first. With a solid proof of concept, you’ll have shown investors that your idea is worth getting behind.

When it’s finally time to pop the champagne—drumroll, please!—host a grand opening as your first big marketing effort. With all the careful planning and strategizing you’ve done up to this point, you’re ready to start serving up deliciousness and earning people’s loyalty.

Opening a restaurant checklist: make your dream a reality.

Ready to start polishing your ideas till they shine and begin your restaurant journey? Here’s every step you need to follow in a handy one-pager.

Download our free checklist here: Opening a restaurant: the ultimate checklist PDF

From building a team to opening your doors (and beyond), Homebase is here for you.  

At Homebase , we know how much restaurant owners have to juggle, and all the hard work you’ve done to get here. We’re proud to be a trusted tool for restaurants of all sizes—helping make everything from staffing to scheduling to payroll to team communication easier for restaurant owners.

Ready to grow your dream team with our easy-to-use, all-in-one employee app? Get started for free with Homebase .

Get your team in sync with our easy-to-use, all-in-one employee app.

Opening a restaurant FAQs

How do i prepare for a restaurant opening.

To prepare for a restaurant opening, you need to finalize the menu, finish hiring and training your team, set up the kitchen and dining areas, get all the necessary licenses and permits, and host a soft opening to fine-tune operations before the official launch.

How much money should you have to open a small restaurant?

The cost of opening a restaurant usually ranges from $175,500–$750,500. It depends on the type of restaurant, service style, number of employees, location, menu, and other factors.

What factors should be considered when opening a restaurant?

When opening a restaurant, factors like location, target market, concept, menu development, staffing, local regulations, permits and licenses and financial planning should all be carefully considered.

How profitable is owning a restaurant?

When it comes to a restaurant’s revenue, there’s no one-size-fits-all, but the average profit margin is usually between 3–5 percent.

Remember:  This is not legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, please consult a lawyer, CPA, or other appropriate professional advisor or agency.

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Want to Open a Restaurant? Here's a Step-By-Step Guide This guide provides all the information you need to open and operate a successful restaurant.

By Laura Tiffany Edited by Melissa Malamut

Key Takeaways

  • Profit margins are thin for restaurants; make a detailed business plan that accounts for every dollar.
  • Investing in experienced servers and cooks will pay off in the long term.
  • Pick a service style and food concept and let those decisions dictate your decor, menu and ambiance.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Starting and opening a new restaurant is an exciting venture that can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. It takes work, however. Opening a successful restaurant requires a strong business plan, an understanding of the local market, an eye for the right location and staff, permits and business licenses, inventory and supplies management, appealing menus and more.

If it's your first time, you'll need to look beyond the grand opening and strategize for generating a cash flow that allows you to do more than just break even. Still, with the right guidance, you can make your dreams of owning a successful restaurant come true. This guide will give you all the information you need to start and open a restaurant. It will cover everything from creating a new business plan to setting up operations and marketing your restaurant. By following this guide step by step, you can open a restaurant that will attract customers for years to come.

What's Inside

Target markets

Restaurant service styles, selecting a food concept, steps to opening your own restaurant, working in a restaurant.

  • Safety regulations

Restaurant startup resources

Breaking into a new market is a challenge, and no single food-service operation has universal appeal. Many newer entrepreneurs have trouble accepting this fact, but it's impossible to capture 100% of the market. When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. So focus on the five or 10% of the target market that you can get — and forget about the rest.

With that said, who's eating at restaurants? Let's look at the main market categories of food-service business customers:

  • Generation Z The youngest consumers represent about 20% of Americans and make up the first digitally native generation. Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Zers grew up with smart phones, and many are socially minded – embracing the crossover of commerce and mental health, for example. And if you want their attention, act fast: young consumers are quicker to tune out ads than older generations.
  • Millennials This generation was born between 1980 and 2000. Millennials account for more than three times as many people as Generation X, and they're a prime target for a food-service business. This generation often opts for fast-food and quick-service items, with about 25 percent of their restaurant visits going to burger franchises , followed by pizza restaurants at 12 percent.
  • Generation X Generation X is a label applied to those who were born between 1965 and 1980. This group is known for strong family values. While earlier generations strove to do better financially than their parents, many Gen Xers are focused on their children. They are concerned with value, and they favor quick-service restaurants and midscale operations that offer all-you-can-eat salad bars and buffets. To appeal to this market group, offer a comfortable atmosphere that focuses on value and ambience.
  • Baby boomers Born between 1946 and 1964, baby boomers make up the second-largest segment of the U.S. population, after millennials. Prominent in this generation are affluent professionals who can afford to visit upscale restaurants and spend money freely. Many boomers are becoming grandparents, making them a target of restaurants that offer a family-friendly atmosphere and those that provide an upscale, formal dining experience.
  • Empty nesters This group consists of older Gen X and seniors (people in their early 50s to about age 64). Empty nesters typically have grown children who no longer live at home, and their ranks will continue to increase as Gen X grows older and their children leave home. With the most discretionary income and the highest per-capita income of all the generations, this group typically visits upscale restaurants. They are less concerned with price and are more focused on excellent service and outstanding food. Appeal to this group with elegant surroundings and a sophisticated ambience.
  • Seniors The senior market covers the large age group of people age 65 and older. Generally, the majority of seniors are on fixed incomes and may not often be able to afford upscale restaurants often, so they tend to visit family-style restaurants that offer good service and reasonable prices. "Younger" seniors are likely to be more active and have more disposable income than "older" seniors, but the group typically appreciates restaurants that offer early-bird specials and senior menus with lower prices and smaller portions, since their appetites are less hearty than those of younger people.

How to Start a Restaurant

Restaurants are classified into three primary categories: quick-service, midscale and upscale. Quick-service restaurants are also known as fast-food restaurants. These establishments offer limited menus of items that are prepared quickly and sold for a relatively low price. In addition to very casual dining areas, they typically offer drive-thru windows and take-out service.

When people think of fast-food restaurants, they often think of hamburgers and french fries, but establishments in this category also serve chicken, hot dogs, sandwiches, wraps, salads, pizza, fresh seafood, grain bowls and foods from other regions.

Midscale restaurants, as the name implies, occupy the middle ground between quick-service and upscale restaurants. They offer full meals but charge prices that customers perceive as providing good value with plenty of special offers . Midscale restaurants offer a range of limited and full-service options. In a full-service restaurant, patrons place and receive their orders at their tables; in a limited-service operation, patrons order their food at a counter and then receive their meals at their tables. Many limited-service restaurants offer salad bars and buffets.

Upscale restaurants offer full table service and do not necessarily promote their meals as offering great value; instead, they focus on the quality of their cuisine and the ambience of their facilities. These are the places that find themselves on a list of trip ideas for tourists looking for great food from a renowned chef. Fine-dining establishments are at the highest end of the upscale restaurant category and charge the highest prices.

Restaurant patrons want to be delighted with their dining experience, but they don't necessarily want to be surprised. If you're anticipating a family-style steakhouse (based on the name or the décor of the establishment) but find yourself in a more formal environment with a bewildering — and pricey — gourmet menu, the surprise may keep you from enjoying the restaurant. Concepts let patrons know in advance what to expect, and they provide some structure for how to operate restaurants. Here are some of the more popular restaurant concepts:

  • Seafood Quick-service seafood restaurants generally offer a limited range of choices, often restricted to fried seafood. Midscale and upscale seafood restaurants offer a wider selection, prepared in ways other than fried, such as baked, broiled and grilled. Seafood can be a risky area on which to focus, as prices are always changing, and many kinds of seafood are seasonal. Also, quality can vary tremendously. When shopping for seafood, make sure the items are fresh and meet your standards of quality. If you are not happy with what a distributor offers, your customers won't be, either.
  • Steakhouses Steakhouses are part of the midscale and upscale markets. Midscale steakhouses are typically family-oriented and offer a casual environment with meals perceived as good values. In terms of décor, comfort is emphasized and Western themes are popular. Upscale steakhouses offer a more formal atmosphere and may serve larger cuts of meat that are of better quality than those served in midscale restaurants. Upscale establishments also charge higher prices, and their décor may be similar to that of other fine-dining establishments, offering guests more privacy and focusing on adult patrons rather than families.
  • Family-style restaurants As the name implies, these establishments are geared toward family fun, and the often-reasonable prices also appeal to seniors. They offer speedy service and their menus are designed to satisfy a broad range of customers, from children to seniors. Family-style restaurant prices may be higher than those at fast-food restaurants, but these establishments provide table service to compensate. The décor of family-style restaurants is generally comfortable, with muted tones, unremarkable artwork and plenty of booths and wide chairs. Booster seats and highchairs for children are readily available.
  • Casual-dining restaurants These establishments appeal to a wide audience, providing a variety of food items — appetizers, salads, main dishes, desserts. Casual-dining restaurants offer comfortable atmospheres with midrange prices. Many center on a theme that's incorporated into their menus and décor. You may need to get your liquor license, depending on what you plan to serve.
  • Global cuisine These restaurants enjoy a significant share of the U.S. restaurant market. They range from quick-service places with limited selections to upscale eateries with a wide variety of menu items. Their menus typically include Americanized versions of global dishes with unique flavors, as well as more authentic food. The three most popular kinds of these food styles are Italian, Chinese and Mexican. Other popular types include Indian, Thai, Caribbean, Cuban, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Greek, Turkish and Vietnamese.
  • Pizzeria You have two primary choices when starting a pizzeria. One is a to-go restaurant in a modest facility with a pizza- and beer-forward menu, limited seating and a self-service atmosphere. The other is a full-service pizza restaurant with a menu that features not only a variety of pizzas, beer and wine, but also Italian entrees (spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna), side dishes (including salads) and a few desserts. The foundation of a pizzeria is the pizza, of course. If you don't know how to make a good pizza, hire someone who does. Invest in top-quality ingredients and preparation methods, and make every pizza as if you're going to eat it yourself.
  • Sandwich shop/delicatessen One reason sandwich shops are so successful is because they enjoy high profit margins. Sandwich shops and delicatessens can also change their menus quickly and easily adapt to current tastes. In the wake of the pandemic, when many regular customers no longer worked from offices, delis have also incorporated delivery and catering into their business models. Most sandwich shops serve only sandwiches, possibly with some side dishes or desserts. A delicatessen usually offers a more extensive menu, including sandwiches, prepared meats, smoked fish, cheeses, salads, relishes and various hot entrees.
  • Coffeehouse With Americans consuming more than 140 billion cups every year, coffee is the country's most-popular beverage (not counting water, of course). People frequent coffeehouses and espresso bars for a variety of reasons: to meet with friends, to do work, for a quick lunch, for an afternoon perk or simply to start each morning with a great cup of Joe. The most successful coffeehouses have heavy foot traffic and high-volume sales. Many will serve between 200 and 300 cups per day, despite having limited floor space and modest seating capacity. Profit margins for coffee and espresso drinks are extremely high — after all, you're dealing with a product that's more than 95 percent water. At the same time, the average cup of coffee costs around $3, so you need volume to reach and maintain profitability. Besides specialty roasted coffee by the cup, most coffeehouses also have espresso-based drinks (cappuccinos, lattes, etc.), assorted teas, bottled water and fruit juices, along with an inviting assortment of baked goods, a selection of desserts and coffee beans by the pound.
  • Bakery With competition from supermarkets that have in-store bakeries, "bread-only" retail bakeries have almost disappeared from the United States. Bakeries today usually offer cakes, scones, bagels and coffee drinks, and sometimes even offer full dining menus, including sandwiches, hot entrees, beer and wine. Consumers love fresh bakery goods, but the market is extremely competitive. As you develop your particular bakery concept, you'll need to find a way to differentiate yourself from other bakeries in town.

Find the concept that best suits you

Before you can begin any serious business planning, you must first decide what specific segment of the food-service industry you want to enter. Your own personality and tastes will dictate whether you choose to open a commercial bakery, a coffee cart, a fine-dining restaurant or another type of operation. Then, once you've decided what business suits you, it's essential to figure out the niche you'll occupy in the marketplace.

Related: The Top Full-Service Restaurant Franchises in 2024

For example, are you an early riser, or do you prefer to stay up late and sleep late? If you like — or at least don't mind — getting up before dawn, your niche may be a bakery or a casual breakfast-and-lunch operation. Night owls are going to be drawn to the hours required for bar-and-grill type restaurants, fine-dining establishments and even pizzerias.

Do you like dealing with the public, or are you happier in the kitchen? If you're a people person, choose a food-service business that gives you plenty of opportunity to connect with your customers. If you're not especially gregarious, you'll probably lean more toward a commercial type of business, perhaps a bakery or even a catering service, where you can deal more with operational issues than with people.

Some other types of questions to ask yourself include: Do you have a passion for a particular type of cuisine? Do you enjoy a predictable routine, or do you prefer something different every day? Are you willing to deal with the additional responsibilities and liabilities that come with serving alcoholic beverages?

As you do this self-analysis, think about your ideal day. If you could be doing exactly what you wanted to do, what would it be? Once you've decided on the best niche for you as an individual, it's time to determine if you can develop a niche in the market for your food-service business.

There's no perfect recipe for opening a successful restaurant, but there are proven actions that will get your business off the ground and help you start feeding customers . Follow these steps when opening a restaurant:

1. Write a business plan

Armed with practical experience, you're ready to put together your business plan — the most critical element of your restaurant. Map out everything on paper before you buy the first spoon or crack the first egg.

When you're writing a business plan you should include:

  • A clear definition of your concept
  • A description of your market
  • Your menu and pricing
  • Detailed financial information, including data on your startup capital (amount and sources) and your long-term income and expense forecasts (including operating costs such as kitchen equipment and food costs)
  • A marketing plan including target customers
  • Employee hiring
  • Training and retention programs
  • Detailed plans that outline how you'll deal with the challenges restaurateurs face every day (including health department compliance, customer experience and expansion)
  • An exit strategy

A well-crafted business plan is the cornerstone of any successful restaurant. It's best to have it professionally written, but if you're short on cash, you can also draft a document yourself. Just be sure that your plan is comprehensive and as accurate as possible. Include realistic projections, research data (such as current industry trends) and thorough analyses of the competition. Because restaurant margins are so thin, it's also smart to detail every single cost you might encounter — down to the price of napkins, ice, internet , glassware and cooking oil. No matter what you decide, your business plan should be a living document that you update and refine as your restaurant evolves.

2. Fund your business

How much money you need to start depends on the type of business, the facility, how much equipment you need, whether you buy new or used, your inventory, marketing and necessary operating capital (the amount of cash to carry you until your business starts generating profits). It's easy to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars starting a restaurant, but it's not essential. For instance, when Borealis Breads owner Jim Amaral started his first bakery in Maine, he rented a space that had been a commercial bakery and came complete with mixers, benches, ovens and other equipment. He was able to start with just $10,000 he'd borrowed from family and friends, and used that primarily for inventory.

Regardless of how much you need, you will definitely need some cash to start your food-service business. Here are some suggestions of where to go to raise your startup funds :

  • Your own resources Do a thorough inventory of your assets. People generally have more assets than they realize, including savings accounts, retirement accounts, equity in real estate, recreation equipment, vehicles, collections and other investments. You may opt to sell assets for cash or use them as collateral for a loan.
  • Family and friends The logical next step after gathering your own resources is to approach friends and relatives who believe in you and want to help you succeed. Be cautious with these arrangements; no matter how close you are with the person, present yourself professionally, put everything in writing, and be sure the individuals you approach can afford to take the risk of investing in your business.
  • Partners Using the "strength in numbers" principle, look around for someone who may want to team up with you in your venture. You may choose someone who has financial resources and wants to work side by side with you in the business. Or you may find someone who has money to invest but no interest in doing the actual work. Be sure to create a written partnership agreement that clearly defines your respective responsibilities and obligations. And choose your partners carefully — especially when it comes to family members.
  • Government programs Take advantage of the abundance of local, state and federal programs designed to support small businesses. Make the Small Business Administration (SBA) your first stop, but be sure to research other programs, too. Underrepresented groups and veterans should check out special financing programs designed to help them get into business. The business section of your local library is a good place to begin your research.
  • Banks and other lending institutions Despite the general mood of tight credit, many banks are still willing to make small-business loans . They may even be more open now as they seek to increase their loan portfolios.
  • Be prepared with a business plan and financial projections These help prove your concept and show lenders you are serious about your business. Also, compare rates from multiple lenders, and don't forget to factor in closing costs and other fees.
  • Venture capitalists and angels If you have a capital-intensive concept with proven profitability potential, venture capitalists or angel investors may be willing to provide the funding you need for a stake in your business.

As you can see, there are many ways to get the capital you need to get your restaurant off the ground — you just need to be organized, prepared and willing to do your research.

3. Choose a location

Depending on where you start your food-service business and the particular type of business you choose, you can spend anywhere from $2,000 to $12,000 on monthly rent. That doesn't include outfitting a kitchen or renovating the space, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Related : The Best States to Start a Business .

Not every food-service operation needs to be in a retail location, but many do. For those relying on retail traffic, here are some factors to consider when deciding on a restaurant location :

  • Anticipated sales volume How will the location contribute to your sales volume?
  • Accessibility to potential customers Consider how easy it will be for customers to get into your business. If you are relying on strong pedestrian traffic, consider whether or not nearby businesses will generate foot traffic for you.
  • The rent-paying capacity of your business If you've done a sales-and-profit projection for your first year of operation, you will know approximately how much revenue you can expect to generate, and you can use that information to decide how much rent you can afford to pay.
  • Restrictive ordinances You may encounter unusually restrictive ordinances that make an otherwise strong site less than ideal, such as limitations on the hours of the day that trucks can legally load or unload.
  • Traffic density With careful examination of food traffic, you can determine the approximate sales potential of each pedestrian passing a given location. Two factors are especially important in this analysis: total pedestrian traffic during business hours and the percentage of people likely to patronize your food service business.
  • Customer parking facilities The site should provide convenient and adequate parking, as well as easy access for customers.
  • Proximity to other businesses Neighboring businesses may influence your store's volume, and their presence can work for you or against you.
  • History of the site Find out the recent history of each site under consideration before you make a final selection. Who were the previous tenants, and why are they no longer there?
  • Terms of the lease Be sure you understand all the details of the lease, because it's possible that an excellent site may have unacceptable leasing terms.
  • Future development Check with the local planning board to see if anything is planned for the future that could affect your business, such as additional buildings nearby or road construction.
  • Appearance It's important that the building or site be attractive and inviting in order to draw customers.

Once you've chosen a location, it's time to nail down the particulars of your food-service business.

4. Create a menu

As you put together a plan for your food-service business, stay up-to-date on the "it" foods of the moment, but don't go chasing fads or trends. Let these inform your menu, rather than dictate it. At the same time, be sure to keep the kids in mind as you plan your selections. If families are a key part of your target market, you'll want a range of four or five items in smaller portions that youngsters will enjoy. While most restaurants still offer fixed kids' meals, you might consider allowing your young diners to choose among a selection of nutritious options.

Your menu should also indicate what dishes can be prepared to meet special dietary requirements, and be sure to offer alternative protein options for vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians (with these noted on the menu).

Though menu variety has increased over the years, menus themselves are growing shorter. Busy consumers don't want to read a lengthy menu before dinner; dining out is a recreational activity, so they're in the restaurant to relax. Keep your number of items in check and menu descriptions simple and straightforward, providing customers with a variety of choices in a concise format. It also makes things easier in the kitchen: fewer recipes to memorize, fewer ingredients to source, etc. The simpler the menu, the easier it'll be to turn crazy dinner rushes and make it through particularly stressful services.

5. Hire employees

One of the biggest challenges — for businesses in all industries — is a lack of qualified labor. As the food-service industry continues to grow, the demand for workers in an already diminished labor pool is also increasing. Finding qualified workers and rising labor costs are two key concerns for food-service business owners .

Related: How to Know When to Hire Your First Employee

The first step in developing a comprehensive HR program is to decide exactly what you want someone to do. The job description doesn't have to be as formal as one you might expect from a large corporation, but it needs to clearly outline the job's duties and responsibilities. It should also list any special skills or other required credentials, such as a valid driver's license and clean driving record for someone who is going to make deliveries for you.

Next, you need to establish a pay scale. You should do research to find out what the pay rates are in your area. You'll want to establish a minimum and maximum rate for each position. You'll pay more even at the start for better qualified and more experienced workers. Of course, the pay scale will be affected by whether or not the position is one that is regularly tipped. Your payroll costs, including your own salary and that of your managers, should be about 24 to 35 percent of your total gross sales.

Every prospective employee should fill out an application — even if it's someone you already know, and even if that person has submitted a detailed resume. A resume is not a signed, sworn statement acknowledging that you can fire the person if he or she lies about his or her background; the application, which includes a truth affidavit, is. The application will also help you verify the applicants' resumes, so you should compare the two and make sure the information is consistent.

Here are some tips to help you find and keep great people:

  • Hire right Take the time to thoroughly screen applicants. Be sure they understand what you expect of them. Do background checks. If you can't do this yourself, contract with an HR consultant to do it for you on an as-needed basis.
  • Create detailed job descriptions Don't make your employees guess about their responsibilities .
  • Understand wage-and-hour and child labor laws Check with your own state's Department of Labor to be sure you comply with regulations on issues such as minimum wage (which can vary depending on the age of the workers and whether they're eligible for tips), and when teenagers can work and what tasks they're allowed to do.
  • Report tips properly The IRS is very specific about how tips are to be reported; for details, check with your accountant or contact the IRS .
  • Provide initial and ongoing training Even experienced workers need to know how things are done in your restaurant. Well-trained employees are happier, more confident and more effective. Plus, ongoing training builds loyalty and reduces turnover. The National Restaurant Association can help you develop appropriate employee training programs, and groups such as The LEE Initiative run programming to promote healthy kitchen environments.

There are several categories of personnel in the restaurant business: manager, cooks, servers, busboys, dishwashers, hosts and bartenders. When your restaurant is still new, some employees' duties may cross over from one category to another. For example, your manager may double as the host, and servers may also bus tables. Be sure to hire people who are willing to be flexible in their duties.

Standard restaurant roles

Manager The most important employee in most restaurants is the manager. Your best candidate will have already managed a restaurant or restaurants in your area and will be familiar with local buying sources, suppliers and methods. You'll also want a manager with leadership skills and the ability to supervise personnel while reflecting the style and character of your restaurant.

To get the quality of manager you want, you'll have to pay well. Depending on your location, expect to pay a seasoned manager $50,000 to $60,000 a year, plus a percentage of sales. An entry-level manager might earn $40,000 to $45,000 but won't have the skills of a more experienced candidate. If you can't offer a high salary, work out a profit-sharing arrangement — it's an excellent way to hire good people and motivate them to build a successful restaurant. Hire your manager at least a month before you open so they can help you set up your restaurant.

Chefs and cooks When you start out, you'll probably need three cooks — two full time cooks and one part time. Restaurant workers typically work shifts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 4 p.m. to closing. But one lead cook may need to arrive early in the morning to begin preparing soups, bread and other items to be served that day. One full-time cook should work days, and the other evenings. The part-time cook will help during peak hours , such as weekend rushes, and can work as a line cook during slower periods, doing simple preparation. Cooking schools can usually provide you with leads to the best in the business, but look around and place ads online before you hire. Customers will become regulars only if they can expect the best every time they dine at your restaurant. To provide that, you'll need top-notch cooks and chefs.

Salaries for chefs and cooks vary according to their experience and your menu. Chefs command salaries significantly higher than cooks, averaging $55,000/year. You may also find chefs who are willing to work under profit-sharing plans. You can pay part-time cooks on an hourly basis; check around for the going rate in your area.

Servers Your servers will have the most interaction with customers, so they need to make a favorable impression and work well under pressure. There are two times of day for wait staff: very slow and very busy. Schedule your employees accordingly. The lunch rush, for example, starts around 11:30 a.m. and continues until 1:30 or 2 p.m. Restaurants are often slow again until the dinner crowd arrives around 5:30 or 6 p.m.

Because servers in most establishments earn a good portion of their income from tips, they're usually paid minimum wage or just over it. When your restaurant is new, you might want to hire only experienced servers so you don't have to provide extensive training. As you become established, however, you should develop training systems to help both inexperienced employees and veteran servers understand your philosophy and the image you want to project.

6. Market and promote your restaurant

Every business needs a marketing plan , and your food-service business is no exception. As you consider various marketing vehicles, consider the loyalty program. Research conducted by the National Restaurant Association found that 78% of customers are more likely to visit a restaurant where they can earn loyalty points.

Word of mouth and earned media are also strong ways to earn business, so make the foundation of your marketing program an absolutely dazzling dining experience that customers will want to talk about and repeat. Ask every new customer how they found out about you, and make a note of this information to track how various marketing efforts are working. You can then decide to increase certain programs and eliminate those that aren't working.

A key question for restaurant owners is this: Do your marketing materials — menus, signs, table tents, social media posts, ads and other items — send an accurate message about who you are and what you do?

The first step in creating a complete marketing package is to know your market, and it's not enough to gather demographic information once. Markets change, and food-service businesses that don't change their marketing strategies with population shifts are missing out on a lot of opportunities. Next, consider every element in your facility — the parking lot, interior decorations, printed items, etc. — to make sure they contribute to your marketing message.

One cheap and easy way to promote your food-service business is by building a presence on social media and giving away gift certificates, such as dinner for two or a free pizza. After all, promotions are one of the 7 Ps of marketing . Post weekly specials, host contests, engage with followers and give patrons a behind-the-scenes look at running your business — cooking tips, kitchen hacks, signature recipes. You can also connect with local social media influencers to visit your restaurant and post the delicious results (food videos are especially popular on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok).

Consider donating coupons and gift certificates to be used as door prizes at professional meetings or for nonprofit organizations to use as raffle prizes. Just be sure every coupon or gift certificate clearly identifies your business name, location, hours of operation and any restrictions on the prize. Some other promotional methods you can try include local event or sporting team sponsorships, discount coupon books, frequent-dining clubs, menu promotions and contests.

7. Choose an efficient layout

Layout and design are major factors in your restaurant's success. As you factor it into your startup costs, you'll need to take into account the size and layout of the dining room, kitchen space, storage space and office. Typically, restaurants allot 45 to 65 percent of their space to the dining area, approximately 35 percent to the kitchen and prep area, and the remainder to storage and office space.

Dining area This is where you'll be making the bulk of your money, so don't cut corners when designing your dining room. Visit restaurants in your area and analyze the décor. Watch the diners. Do they react positively to the décor? Is it comfortable or are people shifting in their seats throughout their meals? Note what works well and what doesn't.

To accommodate the different groups of customers, use tables for two that can be pushed together in areas where there is ample floor space. This gives you flexibility in accommodating both small and large parties. Place booths for four to six people along the walls.

Production area

Too often, the production area in a restaurant is inefficiently designed, resulting in a poorly organized kitchen and less than top-notch service. Keep your menu in mind as you determine each element in the production area. You'll need to include space for receiving, storage, food preparation, cooking, baking, dishwashing, production aisles, trash storage, employee facilities and an area for a small office where you can perform daily management duties.

Arrange your food production area so that everything is just a few steps away from the cook. Your design should also allow for two or more cooks to be able to work side by side during your busiest hours.

Dealing with customers and playing the role of elegant host are only part of a restaurateur's many duties. Food-service business operators spend most of their time developing menus; making sure their operation is in compliance with a myriad of local, state and federal regulations; ordering inventory and supplies; managing personnel; creating and implementing marketing campaigns; completing a wide range of paperwork; and performing other administrative chores. There are fun aspects of working in restaurants, but starting, running and growing a food-service business is also hard work.

Regardless of the type of food-service business you intend to start, successful restaurateurs agree that the best preparation for owning a restaurant is to work in someone else's first. Doing so will give you significant insight into the realities and logistics of the business. Think of it as getting paid to be educated. Certainly you should read books and take courses, but you should also plan to work in a restaurant for at least a few years doing as many different jobs as possible. And if you're not actually doing the job, pay attention to the person who is — you may find yourself doing it when your own restaurant is unexpectedly shorthanded.

Ideally, you should work in a restaurant similar to the type you want to open. You might find you don't like the business or realize you're more suited to a different type of operation. Regardless, you'll learn a lot — about the industry and yourself.

"As soon as I started working in a restaurant, I realized this was my passion," says restaurateur Scott Redler. "When you have a busy restaurant, and you're watching everything happen as it should, it's just a wonderful feeling of satisfaction."

Redler has worked in restaurants for more than four decades, first opening a Chinese fast-food joint at the age of 26. That venture failed within eight months, after which Redler went to work for a large restaurant company, where he eventually advanced to the position of senior vice president and oversaw 15 operations. But he still yearned for his own place, so he developed the concept that became Timberline Steakhouse & Grill in Kansas (which he sold in 2011). He recognized that the fast-casual segment was gaining momentum, so he created Freddy's Frozen Custard, which offers hot dogs, hamburgers and custard. Freddy's Frozen Custard is now a franchise operation with more than 500 stores in 36 states.

Most regulatory agencies will work with new operators to let them know what they must do to meet the necessary legal requirements. Your state's general information office can direct you to all the agencies you'll need to be concerned with.

Starting and opening a restaurant can be an exciting, rewarding, and sometimes overwhelming experience. When done correctly, the benefits will far outweigh any anxieties that may come along with it. With proper planning and research, you will have the necessary tools to make your dream of owning a successful eatery a reality.

  • Start Your Own Restaurant and More by Rich Mintzer and the Staff of Entrepreneur Media : Entrepreneur's official guide describes the ins and outs of starting and running a successful restaurant, pizzeria, coffeehouse, deli, bakery or catering service. Packed with tips on how to keep your restaurant growing and healthy, the book answers most commonly asked questions and covers the essential business basics.
  • National Restaurant Association (NRA) : Founded in 1919, the NRA is the leading business association for the restaurant industry. Its site offers access to an information service and library, various publications and industry research. It also provides networking opportunities and training, and emphasizes the ways in which local restaurants can contribute to their communities.
  • National Restaurant Association (NRA) Educational Foundation : This nonprofit organization is dedicated to fulfilling the NRA's educational mission. The site offers classes for professionals and listings of U.S. food safety laws and training requirements. Where available, county and municipal requirements are also listed.
  • SCORE : To get some practical, real-world advice, contact SCORE and ask to speak with small business counselors who owned or managed a restaurant. Find offices or counselors in your area by visiting the website.
  • Women's Foodservice Forum (WFF) : The WFF is dedicated to providing women in the food-service industry with the resources to succeed. It offers leadership development programs, market research and a regional partnership program for networking. The site also provides answers to FAQs, advice and a community of peers.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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business plan for opening a new restaurant

Restaurant Types

The Key Elements in a Restaurant Business Plan Hero Image 1

How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

No matter where you’re at in your restaurant ownership journey, a business plan will be your north star.

Sam Kusinitz Author

Sam Kusinitz

After working in restaurants, Sam switched gears. Now he works on the product marketing team at Toast.

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Restaurant Business Plan Template

No matter where you’re at in your restaurant ownership journey, a business plan will be your north star. Organise your vision and ensure that nothing is overlooked with this free template.

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If you want to open a restaurant, you’ll need to create a business plan. A restaurant business plan is the blueprint that outlines your entire vision, and it explains in detail how the new business will take shape and operate once the doors are open.

No matter where you’re at in your restaurant ownership journey, your business plan will be your north star. Whether you’re at the initial stage of considering opening a restaurant — thinking about what kind of food you’d serve, how you’d design the space, and how you’d want your customers to feel — or you’re further down the line and it’s time to start securing capital, finding investors and business partners, and thinking about property, you'll be referring back to your business plan constantly and it will keep you focused on the task at hand.

The Importance of a Restaurant Business Plan

A business plan provides business owners, stakeholders, investors, and leaders with an organised guide to how you'll make your vision for your new restaurant a reality, making sure that nothing is overlooked as you grow your business. When you're in the weeds with construction, licensing, staffing, and other operational stressors, your business plan will act as a roadmap and help you stay focused. Going forward without one can make the messy world of restaurant opening much tougher to navigate.

Restaurant business plans are also crucial for securing potential investors. In most cases, opening a new restaurant requires attracting some outside capital from hospitality investors or people who want to be your silent partners. Before they invest in your dream, they need to see that you’ve got a concrete plan for success. 

The business plan shows investors that you’ve thought through every expense and every possible scenario. It provides them with a complete description of your plan — and why and how it'll succeed.

How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan (Description, Examples, Proposals)

Whether this is your first business plan or your 10th, it’s always helpful to work off of a template designed for your industry. This restaurant business plan template contains all the most important sections of your business plan  — you can download your customisable copy of the business plan template here, and read on to learn about the key elements that make a restaurant business plan successful.

The Key Elements of a Restaurant Business Plan

Create a branded cover page.

Incorporate your branding with a cover page that features your logo, your brand fonts, and all of the relevant contact information.

Write an Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first section to write in any business plan. It introduces and summarises your entire vision. This section should introduce the key elements of what will be discussed throughout the business plan, and should catch the reader's attention, make them feel invested in your idea, and entice them to keep reading.

An executive summary includes things like your restaurant’s mission statement, proposed concept, how you'll execute on the plan, overview of potential costs, and the anticipated return on investment. This is also a great place to discuss your business’s core values.

Write a Company Overview

In this section, you’ll begin to explain all the elements that will define your proposed business. 

The company overview introduces the basic information about the ownership structure, location, and type of restaurant, and then outline the vision for the customer experience  — what’s on the menu? What style of service will they experience? 

You can also dive into how you plan to engage and retain great staff through good policies and a supportive environment.

Discuss your plans for the physical space of the restaurant in this section as well, including the layout, capacity, and hours of operation.

Finally, you can get into describing the restaurant’s brand. What feelings will your restaurant’s design evoke? What colour scheme are you going for in your decor, and how will that translate to your online presence? Show that you've thought about it all already.

Include an Industry Analysis

Describe the existing conditions in the market sector that your restaurant will exist in, as well as in the specific location or area that you plan to open the restaurant. 

This section should cover things like the growth of the local economy and industry, existing restaurants in the area, ongoing or upcoming infrastructure projects, nearby business and residential areas, and average foot and car traffic counts in the area.

1. Target Market

The restaurant industry is an extremely competitive landscape and finding your niche is crucial. What will make your restaurant stand out?

You should have a strong idea of who your restaurant will attract and who you hope will become your repeat customers. Describe your target market and how it compares to the restaurant industry as a whole in terms of diner demographics, characteristics, and behaviours.

2. Location Analysis

In most cases, aspiring restaurant owners don’t have a specific location selected before they create and pitch the business plan, so focus on the general area or city you plan to open the restaurant and why you chose that specific area. 

Be sure to include things like growth of the local economy, major citywide events, and infrastructure projects nearby. 

Compare the existing market conditions to your intended target market. Potential restaurant investors will look at this section of the business plan carefully to make sure that the market in the proposed location aligns with the ideal customer profile.

3. Competitive Analysis

This section is where you dig deep on sharing which other businesses exist around your proposed location.

You’ll be explaining the existing competitive landscape: Share the number of other restaurants in the area, paying particular attention to restaurants with similar concepts. Investors will want to understand what can make customers choose your restaurant over your competitors. What will make your food and service stand out? Will you be open for more hours per week than your competitors? Get into anything that will give your business an edge.

Using a competitive matrix, show that you have a keen understanding of what niche your business will serve within the existing web of businesses in your area. 

Detail Your Restaurant Marketing Plan

The marketing section explains your strategy for promoting your restaurant before and after opening. 

Identify specific tactics you will rely on before and after the restaurant is operational. If you’re planning on working with a public relations manager, or launching a social media account to document the build-out of the restaurant and generate excitement, share that. If you’ve already got a sizable social media following on any platform, share that too. 

Talk about which channels you’ll rely on once you’re up and running, whether it be email marketing, regular social media sharing, charity partnerships, or local TV or radio ads. Share if you’ll be investing in a customer relationship management software to keep in touch with your loyal guests, or if you’ll have some kind of loyalty program in place.

Put Together an Operations Plan

In this section, you should paint a picture of how the restaurant will operate day-to-day once it’s open. Include in this section:

1. Staffing

What positions will you need and how many people do you expect in each of the different roles? How will you set yourself apart as a great employer? What will the approximate pay be for each position? How do you plan to recruit staff and what are the hiring criteria for each role? 

2. Customer service policies and procedures

How do you expect to provide an excellent and consistent guest experience? What are the specific service values, policies, and procedures you will put in place and how will they be enforced or encouraged? 

3. Restaurant point of sale and other systems like payroll

How will you track sales and inventory, provide takeout and delivery, manage labour, control cash, process payroll, and accept various payment types?

4. Suppliers

Where will you source your ingredients? Where will you buy equipment, including the one-time purchases and the things that’ll need to be regularly replenished?

Complete A Detailed Financial Analysis with First-Year Projections

The financial analysis is often one of the last parts of a business plan. Investors expect to see a breakdown of how you plan to spend their money in the first year, as well as a comparison of the anticipated costs and projected revenue. There are a few major elements you should be sure to include in this section.

1. Investment Plan

In this section, you explain the initial investment you’re hoping to receive and how you plan to spend the money in the first year. This will usually include kitchen equipment, furniture and decor, payroll, legal fees, marketing, and some working capital.

2. Projected Profit and Loss (P&L) Statement 

The business plan is created long before the restaurant actually opens, so creating this profit and loss statement will require you to make some educated guesses. 

You’ll have to estimate the various costs and sales numbers included in a P&L based on the size of the restaurant, your target market, and the existing market in the area you’ve selected. You can use the interactive P&L template and guide to learn more about profit and loss statements and to create one for your future restaurant.

3. Break-Even Analysis

This one is pretty straightforward: Investors will want to know how much revenue you will need to bring in each month in order to break even once all of the various overhead and operational costs are factored into the equation. There are always going to be some variable costs, so make a note of what you expect those to be in your analysis.

Show how you expect to generate the required revenue, even in your slow months.

4. Expected Cash Flow

Your expected cash flow will depend on how often you expect to purchase inventory, the size of your staff and payroll, and the payroll schedule. Once your restaurant is operational, some months will be better than others. The cash flow analysis should help investors understand that, based on your expectations, your restaurant will be able to support itself even in the less fruitful months without requiring additional investments.

How to Present a Restaurant Business Plan

Once you’ve written your complete business plan, it’s time to learn it inside and out. Investors will want to see that you’re knowledgeable about every area of your business, and confident that you can pull it off. 

When you feel ready, send off your business plan via email to anyone in your network who you think might be interested in investing in your business. Hopefully, you’ll get some bites, and investors will want to meet in person to discuss the restaurant. 

Some investors may want to see the information from your business plan in the form of a pitch presentation in addition to receiving the business plan as a printed booklet for their perusal. Create the presentation using a professional template from either Google Sheets or PowerPoint, and practice, practice, practice until you can do the whole presentation without referring to any notes.

Be prepared for every possible question you might be able to anticipate — and for those other questions that come out of left field, it’s ok to be honest and say you’ll find the answer and get back to them within a short period of time. 

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.

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Everything You Need to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

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business plan for opening a new restaurant

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.

More Resources

How One Restaurant Boosted Staff Retention with a Free University Program

How One Restaurant Boosted Staff Retention with a Free University Program

by Dave Tomar

This article offers tips for effective restaurant staff retention strategies with insights from Rocket Farm Restaurants COO Toby Franklin.

Everything You Need to Know About Content Marketing For Restaurants

Everything You Need to Know About Content Marketing For Restaurants

Content marketing for restaurants is a powerful tool to attract new customers and increase sales.

How Tech Can Help Hire Restaurant Staff with Landed’s Vivian Wang

How Tech Can Help Hire Restaurant Staff with Landed’s Vivian Wang

Discover 10 innovative ways to recruit restaurant employees with expert tips from Landed CEO Vivian Wang.

5 Essential Tips for Restaurant Hiring

5 Essential Tips for Restaurant Hiring

We collected expert advice on hiring staff for restaurants from an industry panel discussion on recruitment and retention.

Business Plan Template: Restaurant

This easy-to-use business plan template is designed to help aspiring restaurant owners set their plans into motion. Download now to start working on your plan.

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A restaurant business plan provides the foundation for your business. Not only is a detailed business plan the key to your restaurant’s success, but it also outlines your vision by detailing how your business will take shape and operate.

  • Highly customizable – Easily add your concept, ideas and information into the editable template.
  • Prompts and examples – Not sure where to start? Our examples help you craft a detailed business plan that’s ready to present to potential partners and investors.
  • Open-ended template – Get started quickly by filling out the sections that are relevant to your business. Skip the sections you don’t need.

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Discover the Best Tools for Business Plans

Learn from the business planning experts, resources to help you get ahead, how to write a restaurant business plan, the ultimate guide to planning your restaurant, your recipe for success.

Elevate your restaurant or cafe’s business plan with our expert-curated resources. Our tools are tailored to help you secure funding, gain approval, and build a strong foundation.

Restaurant Entrepreneurs in front of their new resturant

Who is this for?

4 key things to do before you begin writing your restaurant business plan.

So, you think you’re ready to dive into the restaurant biz? Hold up. Before you start fantasizing about your grand opening, there’s groundwork to be laid. And I’m not just talking about choosing which trendy aprons your staff will wear. Here are the four non-negotiable steps you need to tackle before you even think about drafting that business plan.

1. Figure Out Your Concept and Brand Identity

What’s your story? And no, “I want to open a restaurant” doesn’t cut it. Are you bringing the sultry tastes of New Orleans to the heart of New York? Or maybe you’re thinking of a vegan joint that even hardcore carnivores can’t resist? That’s your concept. Now, how will you sell it? That’s your brand. It’s not just about what’s on the plate; it’s about the vibe, the ethos, the whole shebang. Your concept and brand identity are what will set you apart from the “just another café” down the street. Got it?

2. Get a Grip on Locations and Logistics

Location, location, location – it’s not just a tired cliché. It’s the make-or-break factor for your restaurant dream. But here’s the kicker: some landlords want to see your business plan before they hand over the keys. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation, isn’t it? But fear not. This is where your concept shines. It gives landlords a taste of what’s to come, making them more likely to bet on your vision. And logistics? Start thinking about supply chains, kitchen flow, and whether your delivery guy will get stuck in traffic during rush hour. Thrilling, I know.

3. Menu Planning

Ah, the menu – the heart of your restaurant. This is where you get to flex your culinary muscles. But let’s not get carried away with truffle oil just yet. Your menu needs to be a carefully balanced equation of cost, creativity, and logistics. It should scream your brand, cater to your target demographic, and, above all, be feasible. Remember, a great concept with a poorly executed menu is like a smartphone with no battery life – useless.

4. Regulation and Licensing

Dreaming of a chic cocktail lounge to complement your restaurant? You better make sure you can secure that liquor license first. Regulations and licensing are the less glamorous side of the restaurant business, but they’re as crucial as the food you serve. This step is about dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s. Health inspections, food handler certifications, zoning laws – welcome to the bureaucratic maze. Navigate it successfully, and you’re one step closer to pouring those artisanal cocktails.

The Absolute Power of a Killer Restaurant Business Plan

Listen up, future restaurateurs! Why do you need a restaurant business plan that’s more detailed than your grandma’s recipe for lasagna? Simple. It’s the GPS for navigating the wild terrain of the restaurant industry. You’re not just opening a place where people eat; you’re stepping into a battlefield where only the strongest concepts thrive. You think you’ve got what it takes? Then you better have a plan that screams, “Invest in me, I’m going places!”

The Must-Haves of Your Restaurant Business Plan

Crafting this masterpiece involves more than jotting down some numbers and a catchy name. It’s about painting a picture so vivid, investors can taste your dishes just by reading the pages.

Executive Summary

This isn’t your high school book report. It’s the hook that grabs investors by their taste buds. Who are you? What’s your vibe? And why is your place going to be the new hotspot? 

Conceptualizing Your Offering

Are you the oasis for vegan foodies, or the haven for carnivores seeking their next meaty conquest? Define your universe. 

Dive deep into your menu. Why? Because your truffle mac ‘n cheese is going to revolutionize how we think about comfort food, that’s why.  

Location, Location, Location

Explain why your spot is the place to be. Is it the foot traffic, the local vibe, or because it’s an area screaming for a culinary revolution?  

Market Analysis

Who’s coming to eat? What’s the competition? And why’s your restaurant the answer to everyone’s food prayers? 

Strategy & Implementation

How are you going to fill those seats? If “If you build it, they will come” is your only plan, we need to talk. 

Management Dream Team

Who’s running the show? Why are they rock stars? 

Financial Genius

Show me the money – your startup costs, projections, and that magic break-even point. 

Might throw in a curveball or two, like the tech that’ll make your service smoother than a soufflé or the loyalty program that keeps ’em coming back for more. Custom-tailor your plan. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal.

Why Sweating the Small Stuff Makes All the Difference

In the cutthroat culinary world, it’s the little things. Your business plan isn’t just a document; it’s your manifesto. It’s what sets you apart in a sea of sameness. Think of it as your restaurant’s DNA – from analyzing your market to breaking down your cash flow. This level of detail doesn’t just impress financiers; it gives you a map through the industry’s maze.

Ready, Set, Pre-Plan!

Think writing a restaurant business plan is your first step? Think again. Before you start dreaming up menu items or picking out tablecloths, there’s something crucial you need to tackle: our Pre-Planning Process . This isn’t just a preliminary step; it’s the foundation on which your entire concept will be built. Want to know more? We’ve laid out every detail on our website. Start Your Journey Here. Alongside the essential tasks to tackle before penning your plan, these resources are invaluable.

The Pre-Planning Process for Restaurant Entrepreneurs

Before the dream becomes reality, there’s the Pre-Planning Process. Think of it as the appetizer to the main course that is your restaurant. This phase is where your vision gets a reality check. Is your brilliant idea in sync with the market? Can it make you money? Let’s chop it up into bite-sized pieces.

Know Your Customer

Who’s sitting at your tables? Getting this right is like nailing the perfect spice blend. Use Pre-Vision Interviews and the Jobs-to-be-Done theory to decode your customers’ cravings. This isn’t just about filling bellies; it’s about fulfilling needs, wants, and dreams on a plate.

Get the full recipe on understanding your customer.

Core Cost Analysis

Next up: the dough. Can your restaurant make financial sense? Break down the costs like a recipe, from ingredients (goods) to chef’s time (labor). It’s all about balancing quality and cost to price your menu right.

Dive into the numbers with our Core Cost Analysis guide.

Business Model Development

Here’s where you sketch out your restaurant’s blueprint using the Business Model Canvas. Mix in customer insights, sprinkle in financial realities, and what do you get? A strategy that’s as solid as your signature dish.

Layer your business model with our development tools.  

Operations in Detail

Operations are the kitchen of your business. It’s where plans meet reality. From picking your team to setting up supplier ties, every choice cooks up the customer experience you’re aiming for.

Whisk through operational planning essentials here.

Startup and Operating Costs

Before the grand opening comes the bill. Understanding the full cost menu—from initial setup to the daily specials—is crucial. It sets up your pricing strategy and opens doors to investors.

Season your financial planning with our Startup and Operating Costs guide.

Now, assuming you’ve got the pre-planning in your rearview, it’s time to talk about step two: actually writing that killer restaurant business plan. This is where your concept starts to take shape, grounded in the gritty realities of the restaurant world and buoyed by your boundless passion. 

Get Up to Speed FAST!

Unsure where to start.

Cover of the Restaurants & Cafés Model-Based Planning® Worksheet

Actually Writing a Perfect Restaurant Business Plan

Okay, so you’re really, really, truly ready to write your restaurant business plan? Our resources guide you through, soup to nuts. Visit our Plan & Pitch section and start cooking up your success story, which will take you through the following steps: 

Understanding Audiences

Knowing who will be reading your business plan is half the battle. Customize your pitch to echo in the halls of banks, impress investors, comply with regulators, charm partners, or convince landlords. Your message needs to land with impact.

Get the right structure for your audience.

Model-Based Planning®

Our Model-Based Planning® slices through the noise, offering a strategic blueprint for any restaurant concept, from a cozy café to a bustling food truck. Embrace a bird’s-eye view of your business terrain, sharpening your concept and competitive edge.

Explore Model-Based Planning®.

Narrative Development

A story well told is a story that sells. Weave your restaurant’s vision, strategy, and USP into a narrative that captivates and convinces, laying a solid foundation for your pitch.

Craft your story.

Dish out a thorough market analysis to understand your competition, the industry trends, and the economic landscape. This is your compass for navigating towards success in the restaurant sector.

Dive into market analysis.

Organizational Structure

The backbone of any successful restaurant is its team. Chart out your organizational structure and pen down compelling team biographies that demonstrate capability and credibility to potential backers.

Build your team structure.

Financial Projections

Serving up a detailed financial forecast is essential. It’s your map for budgeting, setting prices, and securing the dough (funding, that is).

Forecast your finances.

Turn your concept into a full-blown plan with actionable strategies for marketing, sales, and customer delight. A well-seasoned marketing plan ensures you hit your targets and satisfy customer appetites.

Strategize and execute.

Pitch Deck & Finances

An irresistible pitch deck and savvy financial management are your secret ingredients for attracting early-stage investment and securing a smooth launch.

Perfect your investor pitch.

Unlock the Power of Expert Business Planning

Supercharge your restaurant's success.

Our Expert Business Planning Bundle, curated specifically for restaurant entrepreneurs, is a comprehensive toolkit with everything you need to create a winning business plan.

This bundle includes the Model-Based Planning® Worksheet, a professional financial projection Excel model, and expert guides on leveraging these tools and AI to develop your plan. Don’t miss this opportunity to invest in your restaurant’s future and watch your vision come to life.

Restaurant Co-Owners in New Restaurant

Gain an Unfair Advantage

The tools you need.

This bundle was created by the top business planning team in the U.S., responsible for the most successful business plan writing company in history. By leveraging these expert resources and insider secrets specific to restaurant planning, you’ll be able to create a standout business plan that sets you apart from the competition.

With this bundle, you will:

  • Access the insider knowledge and proven strategies used by the most successful business planning company in the U.S.
  • Leverage expert resources tailored specifically to the restaurant industry, giving you a competitive edge
  • Streamline your planning process with the Model-Based Planning® Worksheet for Restaurants and Cafes
  • Create professional financial projections using the included Excel model
  • Utilize the curated restaurant-focused business plan template to structure and organize your plan effectively
  • Follow expert guides on leveraging these tools and AI to develop a compelling and comprehensive business plan
  • Dramatically increase your chances of securing the loans, investments, or approvals you need to bring your restaurant vision to life

Future restaurant owner working on a financial spreadsheet for his expert business plan

Use this bundle as your primary toolkit for crafting a restaurant business plan that unlocks the funding and support you need.

When crafting a business plan for your restaurant or cafe, you need more than just a generic template. You need a toolkit carefully curated by industry experts who have spent their careers helping restaurants succeed. That’s exactly what our Expert Business Planning Bundle offers, but why invest in this bundle when there are other options available?

The answer is simple: no other resource can match the depth, breadth, and practical wisdom contained in our Expert Business Planning Bundle. Our team has distilled their thousands of hours of experience working with successful restaurants into a comprehensive toolkit that will save you time, money, and the frustration of making costly mistakes.

With our targeted, practical knowledge tailored specifically to the restaurant industry, you’ll be able to write a business plan that’s smarter than what the best consultants could produce, and that’s exactly customized to your unique needs and goals. Whether you’re seeking funding, approvals, or simply want to set your restaurant up for long-term success, our Expert Business Planning Bundle is the ultimate resource to help you achieve your vision.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I tailor my business plan to attract potential investors specifically?

Tailoring your business plan to appeal to potential investors involves highlighting the aspects of your business that demonstrate profitability, scalability, and a clear competitive edge. Personal information about the management team’s experience

  • What information should I include in the business description section of my restaurant business plan?

The business description section should provide a comprehensive overview of your restaurant, including the concept, target market, menu offerings, and unique selling points. It should also detail the restaurant’s location, design, and how it fits into the broader market landscape. Highlight any differentiators that set your restaurant apart from competitors and outline your vision for the restaurant’s impact on the local dining scene.

  • How much personal information should I share about my management team in the business plan?

Your business plan should include succinct biographies of key management team members, focusing on their relevant experience, skills, and contributions to the success of the restaurant. This section should illustrate why each member is uniquely qualified to execute the business plan, without delving into excessive personal detail. 

  • Should I highlight my past success stories in the business plan?

Yes, including past a success story or two in your business plan can significantly enhance your credibility and appeal to banks, potential investors, or even landlords. Highlight how these experiences have equipped you with the skills and insights necessary to make your current restaurant venture a success. 

  • What are the key elements of a company overview in a restaurant business plan?

The company overview section should summarize the essence of your restaurant, including its name, location, cuisine type, and the dining experience it offers. It should outline your mission statement, core values, and the long-term objectives of your business. 

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Talk Business & Politics

AQ Chicken House partners plan to open new store in 2025

by Jeff Della Rosa  ( [email protected] ) 6 seconds ago 0 views  

business plan for opening a new restaurant

Computer rendering of planned new AQ Chicken House restaurant in Springdale.

Developers for the new AQ Chicken House  in Springdale have submitted plans to the city for design and development review. The well-known restaurant closed March 18, 2023, but a Springdale family plans to relocate the business with a target opening date of 2025.

According to a Monday (July 22) press release, the 13,041-square-foot restaurant, of which 10,167 square feet is enclosed, will be family-friendly and community-centric and honor the brand’s rich history. A physical address has yet to be assigned, but the new restaurant is planned to be built northeast of the Walmart Supercenter along North 48th Street at the Elm Springs Road exit, west of Interstate 49.

“Key features of the new build include an outdoor area for kids, outdoor covered dining, dedicated carry-out for meals to go, unique ‘silo’ dining rooms, an ice cream room for made-on-site premium ice cream, and a bright, updated design that honors the past while inviting new generations,” the release shows.

Rogers-based Core Architects is the designer. A general contractor has yet to be selected. Groundbreaking for the new restaurant will take place after the project comes before the city and planning commission.

The plans submission marks the start of the city’s permitting process, which comprises collaboration between the development team and city staff over the coming weeks. The process includes addressing questions or comments regarding the restaurant’s design and proposed location.

“This is an exciting step forward in reviving a beloved landmark in Springdale,” said Jacob Lively, AQ Chicken House partner. “After months of planning, design and pre-development work, we are excited to advance toward the construction phase of the new AQ Chicken House.”

In September, Catalyst Capital, a single-family office organized last year by Springdale’s Lundstrum family, closed a deal to buy the rights to the restaurant’s name, recipes and branding. Catalyst Capital comprises four principals: Tom and Robin Lundstrum, their daughter Gracie Lively, and her husband, Jacob Lively.

The new restaurant is expected to feature the original recipes that made AQ Chicken House famous, according to the news release.

“We want the new AQ Chicken House to be a community gathering space, a place where families can come together and create lasting memories,” Tom Lundstrum said. “We are committed to preserving the legacy of AQ while bringing it into the future with thoughtful design and modern amenities.”

SIGNATURE FRIED CHICKEN Roy Ritter opened AQ Chicken House – AQ stands for Arkansas Quality – on July 20, 1947, when chickens were raised and slaughtered behind the restaurant along a dirt road now known as U.S. Highway 71. Ritter, a poultry industry pioneer, longtime University of Arkansas Board of Trustees member and Springdale mayor, served southern-style chicken dinners to tourists and area visitors amid a need for sit-down restaurants north of Springdale.

According to the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame, when the restaurant first opened, the Chicago Tribune ran a story about its opening, and over the years, people from across the nation, came to try the signature fried chicken.

In 1952, Vice President Alben Barkley ate there. In 1998, President Bill Clinton had pan-fried chicken there with friends after the dedication of Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, now known as Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA). President George W. Bush was served AQ chicken aboard Air Force One during a campaign stop at XNA in 2000.

Other AQ owners included Frank Hickingbotham, who created TCBY Enterprises Inc., and Ron Palmer, who owned AQ for 17 years before selling it to Dick Bradley in 1998. The restaurant is a three-time finalist for the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame, including 2019, 2020 and 2021.

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Restaurant's licence to be decided after owners scrap 4am plan

A council is set to make a decision over a restaurant’s new licence after the owners scrapped plans to open until 4am.

Watch more of our videos on Shots! and live on Freeview channel 276

Sandwell Council’s licensing committee will decide whether to award De Vibez Lounge in Cape Hill, Smethwick , a premises licence after delaying a decision in June over fire safety concerns.

The owners of the restaurant had been given more time to make their venue safer after applying their application for a late-night licence earlier this year raised eyebrows at West Midlands Fire Service .

The fire service raised an objection to De Vibez Lounge’s late-night plans saying its safety officers had found no fire alarms or detectors when they visited the Cape Hill restaurant.

The restaurant had originally applied to open until 4am at weekends but has now agreed to cut the hours after talks with the council.

The agreed opening hours are now 8am to 10.30pm from Monday to Thursday – with the restaurant vacated by 11pm – and 8pm to 11.30pm on Friday and Saturday with an extra 30 minutes for everyone to leave. The opening hours for Sundays and Bank Holidays would be 10am to 10pm plus an extra half an hour.

The council’s licensing committee met in Oldbury on June 5 and was expected to make a decision on the application but councillors agreed to give the restaurant more time after they were told the work to install the fire safety equipment had started.

The fire service said an alarm system needed to be installed and the artificial plants removed “as a minimum” before the objection could be removed, and also said the applicant did not turn up for a planned visit and a supplied phone number “seemed to be incorrect.”

business plan for opening a new restaurant

The African restaurant opened in the former Sampson Lloyd pub in December last year. The former Wetherspoon’s pub on the corner of Cape Hill and Waterloo Road had sat empty for several years after the budget chain left in 2014.

The licensing committee meets from 10am on July 29.

business plan for opening a new restaurant

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  1. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan in 2024 (Free Template)

    2. The projected profit and loss (P&L) statement. Since the business plan is done way before you open your restaurant you'll need to make some educated guesses for your P&L statement. Estimate costs and sales based on your restaurant's size, target market and the local competition.

  2. Restaurant Business Plan Template & Example

    The breakout of the funding is below: Restaurant Build-Out and Design - $100,000. Kitchen supplies and equipment - $100,000. Opening inventory - $25,000. Working capital (to include 3 months of overhead expenses) - $25,000. Marketing (advertising agency) - $25,000.

  3. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan (+ Examples)

    6 actionable steps to distill your restaurant business plan: Define your concept clearly: Begin by articulating your restaurant's concept, ambiance, and what sets it apart. This clarity lays the groundwork for the entire business plan. Conduct thorough market analysis: Dive deep into your target market and competitors.

  4. How to write a restaurant business plan

    6. Management team. Write a brief overview of yourself and the team you have established so far. You want to show that your experience has provided you with the necessary skills to run a successful restaurant and act as a restaurant business owner.

  5. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan [with Sample]

    A restaurant business plan is a document that outlines the various aspects of your restaurant business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or keep track of your progress as you develop your business. A business plan should include information on your target market, competition, business model, marketing strategy, and financial ...

  6. Restaurant Business Plan: What To Include, Plus 8 Examples

    5) Menu. 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.

  7. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

    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 ...

  8. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan: Free Template & Tips

    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.

  9. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

    A restaurant business plan is the foundation when starting a new restaurant, whether you're opening a franchise or a small family-owned restaurant.Your business plan will act as a roadmap for starting your restaurant: it can help you get loans from financial institutions, and it will be a point of reference when forecasting sales.In this article, we'll teach you all of the essential ...

  10. Restaurant Business Plan Template: Grow Your Business the ...

    A restaurant business plan is a written document that lays out an overview of a restaurant, its objectives, and its plans for achieving its goals. ... Why you need a business plan. Creatively, opening a new restaurant can be incredibly exciting. But it's also super complicated. From licenses to equipment to building a team, each phase needs a ...

  11. How to write a comprehensive restaurant business plan

    fanWhen opening a new restaurant, having a solid restaurant business plan is key for the success of a a business. The best ones identify, describe and analyse business opportunities while setting a blueprint. Here, we've put together a guide for how to write a restaurant business plan so life at your spot starts off on the right foot.

  12. How to Open a Restaurant + Free Business Plan Template

    Have a finished business plan. As mentioned earlier, the restaurant business plan is the most crucial document for opening a new restaurant. Investors — whether friends or strangers — want to know that the entrepreneur has considered the path to success from every angle. The business plan is where they demonstrate that.

  13. How to Write a Small Restaurant Business Plan

    Download your free small restaurant business plan template. If you're ready to start a restaurant, you can download our free small restaurant business plan template from our library of over 550 sample business plans. Get started today, and discover why businesses that plan grow 30% faster than those that don't. More restaurant business plan ...

  14. Restaurant Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + examples

    5. Sample "yummy" Menu. In the restaurant industry, your menu plays a main role as the core product. Include a section in your business plan that highlights key details about your menu offerings to engage readers. If you offer a diverse range of dishes, provide a brief overview of each category.

  15. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan: Complete Guide

    Use this template to create a complete, clear and solid business plan that get you funded. Let's dive in! 1. Restaurant Executive Summary. The executive summary of a business plan gives a sneak peek of the information about your business plan to lenders and/or investors. If the information you provide here is not concise, informative, and ...

  16. Opening a Restaurant Checklist: All You Need to Know (+Download!)

    22. Market your new restaurant. Now it's time to create a marketing plan and start spreading the word about the amazing restaurant you've brought to life! Make a strong website and set up social media channels, pulling details from your business plan. Make sure you're speaking directly to your target audience, using strategies like:

  17. How to Open a Restaurant Step By Step

    3. Choose a location. Depending on where you start your food-service business and the particular type of business you choose, you can spend anywhere from $2,000 to $12,000 on monthly rent. That ...

  18. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

    A restaurant business plan is the blueprint that outlines your entire vision, and it explains in detail how the new business will take shape and operate once the doors are open. No matter where you're at in your restaurant ownership journey, your business plan will be your north star.

  19. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan in 2024

    State your mission and vision: Your mission statement reflects your restaurant's core purpose, while the vision paints a picture of its future. Outline your objective: Define the goals for your new business. Provide a financial overview: Offer a brief insight into the financial state of your business. 2.

  20. Everything You Need to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

    A step-by-step guide to composing a business plan, using tips from New York University professors. A step-by-step guide to composing a business plan, using tips from New York University professors. ... 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 ...

  21. Business Plan Template: Restaurant

    Tool. A restaurant business plan provides the foundation for your business. Not only is a detailed business plan the key to your restaurant's success, but it also outlines your vision by detailing how your business will take shape and operate. Highly customizable - Easily add your concept, ideas and information into the editable template.

  22. How To Write A Restaurant Business Plan »

    Start thinking about supply chains, kitchen flow, and whether your delivery guy will get stuck in traffic during rush hour. Thrilling, I know. 3. Menu Planning. Ah, the menu - the heart of your restaurant. This is where you get to flex your culinary muscles. But let's not get carried away with truffle oil just yet.

  23. How to Open a Restaurant: 11 Steps to Success

    Click any of the tips below to skip to the restaurant startup tip that interests you: Choose a Restaurant Concept. Write a Restaurant Business Plan. Obtain Restaurant Funding. Create a Menu. Find a Commercial Space. Plan Your Restaurant's Layout. Acquire Restaurant Permits and Licenses.

  24. AQ Chicken House partners plan to open new store in 2025

    The well-known restaurant closed March 18, 2023, but a Springdale family plans to relocate the business with a target opening date of 2025. According to a Monday (July 22) press release, the 13,041-square-foot restaurant, of which 10,167 square feet is enclosed, will be family-friendly and community-centric and honor the brand's rich history.

  25. Restaurant's licence to be decided after owners scrap 4am plan

    The agreed opening hours are now 8am to 10.30pm from Monday to Thursday - with the restaurant vacated by 11pm - and 8pm to 11.30pm on Friday and Saturday with an extra 30 minutes for everyone ...

  26. Downtown Knoxville restaurant owners plan brewhouse at Elst Brewing

    Elst Brewing Company, set to close Aug. 5, quickly will be replaced by a new brewhouse and restaurant from the same people behind Chivio Taqueria on Gay Street. The new concept, The Black Dog ...

  27. Raising Cane's plans to open another 12 restaurants in Greater

    Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers' rapid expansion in Greater Philadelphia will continue over the next three-and-a-half years as the brand plans to open another 12 restaurants in the region through 2027.

  28. We fact-checked some of the rumors spreading online about the Trump

    Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump is assisted by U.S. Secret Service personnel after he was shot in the right ear during a campaign rally at the Butler Farm ...