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


A comprehensive restaurant business plan is a framework that guides you to plan and forecast every element of restaurant management and operations.

This includes anything from your restaurant's menu design, location, financials, employee training, and a lot more.

Crafting a solid business plan is important, as it helps:

  • Transform your restaurant ideas into reality.
  • Boosts entrepreneurial success by 16% (Harvard Business Study) .
  • Equips you to navigate challenges before they arise.
  • Attracts potential investors.

“You have to show any potential investor that you have an actual plan, you know what you’re talking about, it looks professional, and you’re not just screwing around.” - Charles Bililies, owner of Souvla

Planning is key to restaurant success. Without a plan, you're more likely to join the 26% of restaurants that fail within a year.

Create a business plan to set yourself up for success.

Here's how to get started. 

making a restaurant business plan

A step-by-step guide to writing a restaurant business plan

Embarking on a restaurant venture is an exciting prospect filled with endless possibilities.

However, the key to transforming your culinary dreams into reality lies in the foundation of a well-crafted restaurant business plan.

This guide will walk you through creating a winning restaurant business plan , from defining your niche to seeking expert advice.

So, are you ready to cook up some success?  Let's get started. 

Further reading

  • How to write a business plan for a fine dining restaurant

Essential components of a restaurant business plan

A well-structured restaurant business plan typically consists of the following key components:

  • Executive Summary

Company Description

  • Market Analysis
  • Restaurant Design
  • Market Overview
  • External help
  • Financial Analysis

Delving into each section

Now, let's take a closer look at each section of your restaurant business plan and explore the key elements to consider:

1. Executive summary

A restaurant business plan should always begin with an executive summary. Why?

  • 80% of venture capitalists say they read the executive summary first.
  • 62% of investors say they would not continue reading a business plan if the executive summary did not capture their interest.
  • A strong executive summary can increase the likelihood of securing funding by up to 40%.

An executive summary not only acts as the introduction to your restaurant business plan samples but also as a summary of the entire idea.

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

The executive summary also helps you envision the identity of your restaurant which essentially shapes the customer experience and sets you apart from competitors.

To establish a distinct identity, you need to focus on c ommon elements of an executive summary, including:

  • A mission statement  
  • Proposed concept development
  • Cuisine selection
  • The overall execution
  • The potential costs
  • Expected return on investments (ROI)

Let's take a more in-depth look at the concept development, cuisine selection, and mission statement.

  • How to write a restaurant executive summary

Concept Development

Selecting the type of restaurant, service style, and atmosphere is the first step towards creating a unique dining experience. Whether you envision a sample menu for a:

  • cozy, intimate bistro
  • bustling quick-service deli
  • fast-casual restaurant
  • fine dining establishment

Your concept should reflect your passion and expertise in the industry.

With a broad range of options, it’s critical to scrutinize your target market and pinpoint the most suitable choice considering their preferences and your capabilities.

When planning your restaurant design, keep in mind that it should effectively complement your chosen theme and cuisine.

Additionally, consider the potential for patio seating and the involvement of your management team in making these critical decisions.

A well-thought-out concept will not only set the stage for an unforgettable dining experience but also pique the interest of potential investors.

Cuisine Selection

The cuisine you select for your restaurant can significantly influence its success.

Choosing the appropriate cuisine is vital for distinguishing your establishment from competitors and attracting your target market.

To make an informed decision, consider factors such as:

  • Market demand
  • Expertise and passion
  • Ingredient availability
  • Competition
  • Profitability
  • Cultural fit
  • Seasonality

Dietary restrictions and trends

In the highly competitive restaurant industry, keeping track of current and emerging cuisine trends can be a significant advantage.

From regional delicacies to innovative fusion dishes, understanding what’s popular and in demand can help you tailor your offerings to the desires of your target audience.

By thoroughly analyzing the market and adapting to evolving tastes, your restaurant can remain relevant and successful in the long run.

Crafting a mission statement

A well-constructed mission statement communicates the purpose, values, and goals of your restaurant to potential investors and customers alike.

A mission statement serves as a guiding light for decision-makers and employees, fueling their efforts to achieve your restaurant’s objectives.

To create an impactful mission statement, consider the following steps:

  • Identify the purpose of the restaurant.
  • Contemplate the brand’s image.
  • Account for the target audience.
  • Incorporate company values.
  • Ensure brevity and comprehensiveness.

Related content:  How to Write a Restaurant Mission Statement  

Remember, your mission statement should not only differentiate your restaurant from competitors but also resonate with your target market.

By articulating your restaurant’s unique values and vision, you’ll create a strong foundation upon which to build a thriving and successful business.

2. Company description

This is the part of the restaurant business plan where you fully introduce the company.

Start this section with the name of the restaurant you are opening along with the location, contacts, and other relevant information. 

Also, include the owner’s details and a brief overview or description of their experience.

The second part of the company description should highlight the legal standing of the restaurant and outline the restaurant’s short and long-term goals.

Provide a brief market study showing that you understand the trends in the regional food industry and why the most independent restaurant investors will succeed in this market.

Here's an example of the page layout:  

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].

Short-term Goals:

  • Generate [Amount] in revenue within the first year of operation.
  • Achieve a [Percentage] customer satisfaction rating within the first six months of operation.

Long-term Goals:

  • Expand to a second location within five years.
  • Become a recognized leader in the regional food industry.

Market Study:

The regional food industry is experiencing a number of trends, including:

  • An increasing demand for fresh,  local ingredients.
  • A growing interest in ethnic cuisine.
  • A preference for casual dining experiences.

3. Market analysis

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

3.1 Industry analysis

What is your target market? What demographics will your restaurant cater to?

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

Comprehending your target market is key to customizing your restaurant offerings to their preferences and needs.

By diving into demographics, preferences, dining habits, and trends, you can fine-tune your concept and marketing strategy to reach and appeal to your target audience effectively.

An example of analyzing your target market

  Comprehending your target market is key to customizing your restaurant offerings to their preferences and needs.

Demographics and preferences

Identifying your primary target market involves considering factors such as:

For example, a neighborhood with a high concentration of families might prefer a family-friendly restaurant with a diverse menu catering to various age groups and dietary preferences.

Conversely, a trendy urban area with a predominantly young and affluent population may gravitate towards upscale dining experiences and innovative cuisine.

Cultural and ethnic backgrounds also have a significant impact on restaurant preferences, with people from different backgrounds having distinctive tastes and customs that influence their dining choices.

By thoroughly understanding the demographics and preferences of your target market, you’ll be better equipped to create a restaurant concept that resonates with them and ultimately drives success.

Dining habits and trends

As the restaurant industry continues to evolve, staying informed about dining habits and trends is crucial for adapting your offerings and attracting customers.

For example, the rise of online ordering and delivery services has significantly influenced dining habits, with many consumers seeking the convenience of having their meals delivered to their doorstep.

Health trends have also had an impact on dining habits, with an increasing number of individuals seeking healthier options when dining out.

By staying abreast of current habits and trends, you can anticipate the needs and desires of your target market and tailor your restaurant’s offerings accordingly.

This forward-thinking approach will not only help you stay competitive but also foster long-term success in the ever-changing restaurant landscape.

  • How to find your restaurant's target market

3.2 Competition analysis

It's easy to assume that everyone will visit your new restaurant first, so it is important to research your competition to make this a reality.

What restaurants have already established a customer base in the area?

Take note of everything from their prices, hours, and service style to menu design to the restaurant interior.

Then explain to your investors how your restaurant will be different.

3.3 Marketing analysis

Your investors are going to want to know how you plan to market your restaurant. How will your marketing campaigns differ from what is already being done by others in the restaurant industry?

How do you plan on securing your target market? What kind of offers will you provide your guests? Make sure to list everything.

The most important element to launching a successful restaurant is the menu . Without it, your restaurant has nothing to serve.

At this point, you probably don’t have a final version, but for a restaurant business plan, you should at least try to have a mock-up.

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

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

5. Employees

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

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

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

6. Restaurant design

The design portion of your restaurant business plan is where you can really show off your thoughts and ideas to the investors. If you don’t have professional mock-ups of your restaurant rendered, that’s fine.

Instead, put together a mood board to get your vision across. Find pictures of a similar aesthetic to what you are looking for in your restaurant.

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

7. Location

The location you end up choosing for your restaurant should definitely be in line with your business plans and target market.

At this point, you might not have a precise location set aside, but you should have a few to choose from.

When describing potential locations to your investors, you want to include as much information as possible about each one and why it would be perfect for your own restaurant concept.

Mention everything from square footage to typical demographics.

Example for choosing an ideal location

Choosing the ideal location for your restaurant is a pivotal decision that can greatly influence your success. 

To make the best choice, consider factors such as foot traffic, accessibility, and neighborhood demographics.

By carefully evaluating these factors, you’ll be better equipped to maximize visibility and attract your target market.

Foot traffic and accessibility

Foot traffic and accessibility are essential factors in selecting a location that will attract customers and ensure convenience.

A high-traffic area with ample parking and public transportation options can greatly increase the likelihood of drawing in potential customers.

Additionally, making your restaurant accessible to individuals with disabilities can further broaden your customer base and promote inclusivity.

It’s also important to consider the competition in the area and assess whether your restaurant can stand out among existing establishments.

By choosing a location with strong foot traffic and accessibility, you’ll be well on your way to creating a thriving restaurant that appeals to your target market.

Neighborhood demographics

Analyzing neighborhood demographics can help you determine if your restaurant’s concept and cuisine will appeal to the local population.

Factors such as income levels, family structures, and cultural diversity can all influence dining preferences and habits.

By understanding the unique characteristics of the neighborhood, you can tailor your offerings and marketing efforts to resonate with the local community.

Conducting a market analysis can be a valuable step in this process.

To gather demographic data for a particular neighborhood, you can utilize resources such as the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and reference maps.

Armed with this information, you can make informed decisions about your restaurant’s concept, menu, and pricing, ensuring that your establishment is well-positioned for success within the community.

Conducting market research will further strengthen your understanding of the local demographic.

8. Market overview

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

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

9. Marketing

With restaurants opening left and ride nowadays, investors are going to want to know how you will get word of your restaurant to the world.

The next marketing strategy and publicity section should go into detail on how you plan to market your restaurant before and after opening. As well as any plans you may have to bring a PR company on board to help spread the word.

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

10. External help

To make your restaurant a reality, you are going to need a lot of help. List any external companies or software you plan on hiring to get your restaurant up and running.

This includes everything from accountants and designers to suppliers that help your restaurant perform better, like POS systems and restaurant reservation systems .

Explain to your other potential investors about the importance of each and what they will be doing for your restaurant.

11. Financial analysis

The most important part of your restaurant business plan is the financial section . We would recommend hiring professional help for this given its importance.

Hiring a trained accountant will not only help you get your own financial projections and estimates in order but also give you a realistic insight into owning a restaurant.

You should have some information prepared to make this step easier for the accountant.

He/she will want to know how many seats your restaurant has, what the check average per table will be, and how many guests you plan on seating per day.

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

  • Important restaurant metrics to track

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.

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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Saif Alnasur

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.


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How to write a comprehensive restaurant business plan

Sign up for restaurant insights.

Are you considering opening a new restaurant , adding a virtual restaurant , or pivoting your restaurant’s business strategy to adapt to the shifting restaurant industry? Make sure you take the time to build a restaurant business plan. Why?

  • Business plans are like professional road maps — they literally lead the way to success
  • They’re critical if you’re looking for investors and need to outline your restaurant’s current wins and future revenue potential
  • They help you foresee challenges before they arise, so you can sidestep some catastrophes and be better prepared for the others

Some 26% of restaurants fail within a year of opening, and failure to plan is one of the primary reasons those restaurants close. Create a business plan, and you’re setting yourself up to be on the right side of that statistic.

Here’s how to do it.

Download our business plan template

What is a restaurant business plan?

Before you learn how to write a business plan , it’s crucial to understand what a business plan is — and what it isn’t.

The goal of a business plan is to create a guide that helps you navigate each stage of launching and running your business. That plan should also be comprehensive and articulate enough that a total stranger, for instance an investor, could read through it and easily understand your vision, your goals, and how you intend to turn your restaurant dream into a reality.

Business plans come in a variety of structures and they can be as short as a single page or long enough to bind into a booklet. You may want to start with a lean startup plan that focuses on a high-level take on your strategy, then follow up with a more detailed plan that elaborates on key points and offers investors more information.

In short, your business plan should communicate everything you have and plan to put into your restaurant to ensure ongoing success.

11 elements every restaurant business plan should include

Your restaurant and mission statement should be unique to your business and your vision, but that doesn’t mean you have to start completely from scratch. Crafted by industry experts and packed with insider knowledge, the Grubhub Restaurant Business Plan template is your step-by-step guide to whipping up a winning business strategy. Take a look at our editable business plan template to start planning your restaurant. However you write it, your finalized business plan should include seven key sections.

1. Executive summary

This is a brief summary of your company, why it’s something the community wants or needs, and why it will be successful. Many different types of restaurants speak to various demographics, and it’s important to know  what kind of restaurant you want to run . Are you opening a quick-service deli focused on takeout sandwiches and ready-to-eat salads? Or are you going to be the first tapas restaurant in a city eager for more variety?

If you’re using your business plan to ask for financing, the SBA recommends including financial information and high-level growth plans in your executive summary, too. Your executive summary should include:

  • Mission statement: A concise description of your restaurant’s purpose
  • Proposed concept: The summary or outline of the restaurant idea
  • Execution: How you plan to make this proposed concept work
  • Potential costs: A brief overview of expected exprenses
  • Anticipated ROI: How much the restaurant is expected to make

Think of your summary as your opportunity to capture your reader’s attention. Many investors will make a split-second decision based on the executive summary alone — if this section is all they’re going to read, make every word count.

2. Company description

Now it’s time to launch into a more detailed description of the company, including its  vital differentiator(s) , target audience, and any other factors that could sway investors like experts you’ve brought on board as advisors or a location you’ve already scouted or secured.

You’ll want to include the legal structure of the business, explaining whether you’re a sole proprietorship, LLC, etc., and list out existing management and their roles (including your own).

Now comes the fun part: Writing out a description of your concept. This is where you can let your creative side come out, showcasing your passion for what you hope to create and using plenty of adjectives to engage your readers and give your concept life. You’ve already decided what  type of restaurant  you’re opening, now flesh out all the other details:

  • Service style (counter vs. sit-down, casual vs. fine dining, etc.)
  • Restaurant size and seating capacity
  • General ambiance, including décor and music
  • Options for styles of seating, lighting, and other fixtures
  • Operating hours
  • Style of cuisine
  • Peripheral service offerings such as retail products, delivery/takeout, and catering
  • Unique selling points such as using produce grown on an adjacent farm or a 30-minute lunch guarantee to serve the area’s office workers better

3. Target market analysis

Detail your target market, using buyer personas to indicate who you see being your primary customer and what their dining habits might look like. These personas should include information on where target customers live, their income levels, their pain points (do they hate long waits or want restaurants that are open later?), and how often they dine out or order in.

The more specific you are during this step of the process, the easier it will be to create marketing to reach them.

4. Sample menu

If you’re a new restaurant, including a sample menu is the only way investors will know what you plan on serving. It’s not enough to say you’re going for “rustic Italian,” as that could mean different things to different people. Chances are your menu is your key differentiator, or at least part of it — otherwise, why will customers choose you over tried-and-true competitors already offering similar dishes?

Collaborate with your chef and keep the core tenets of  great menu design  in mind:

  • Know your audience and tailor your design and descriptions to your target customer base — a college crowd eager for drink deals and shareable eats will be more interested in pictures and flashy pricing than diners looking for a white tablecloth experience
  • Menu descriptions should be short but evocative — choose words that help customers understand exactly what they’ll be eating and get them excited about trying it (for example, say “succulent tea-smoked duck with anise-scented plum sauce” rather than “duck with plum sauce”)
  • Refer to menu psychology when determining and placing pricing, sticking to simple numerals (no dollar signs) placed to the right of the menu item with no dots or dashes in between
  • Use that same psychology to guide customers through your offerings, using call-out boxes and bold text to highlight more profitable items
  • View your menu as an extension of your restaurant branding , using the same colors, design elements, and fonts

5. Organizational management

While you’ve touched on your organizational structure and management earlier on in your business plan, now you’ll explain  your business structure  and share a more comprehensive look at your team. An organizational chart can be helpful, as is a summary of your collective experience. Some people include a bullet list of the team’s top achievements that’s easy to scan and digest. This section should include any employe positions you will need to fill and a plan for how you will train these employees .

In addition to listing out co-founders, managers, servers, etc., you can attach resumes from your executive team or critical players like a well-known mixologist that’s helping you develop your cocktail program.

6. Restaurant design

Restaurant interior design is crucial for your customer’s experience. The ambiance and floor plan impact how they perceive your business and whether it’s a good enough place to eat at. In fact, even the color of the walls and types of flooring can impact people’s moods and how they feel while in your restaurant.

Come up with a restaurant design that matches your theme and cuisine. This is also the time to plan out any patio seating , and decide on how many tables can you can serve.

7. Location

You may already have a specific location picked out or even have a building purchased. If so, this section is less of a concern for you. It’s important to ensure that your location is going to benefit you rather than hurt your business. If you still need to find the right space to host your business, the location you end up choosing should be in line with your target market and be an easily accessible place for them to eat.

Before you sign a lease, it’s a good idea to check out the other competition in your area. If you found the perfect building for your pizzeria but it’s next to another popular pizza shop, it may be hard to convert customers to your cheesy creations. You want to enter a market where you can grab diner’s attention with new offerings rather than rival existing ones.

8. Marketing plan

With so many restaurants vying for customers’ attention, marketing is extremely important for getting diners through the door (or onto your website). Crafting a marketing plan for your restaurant gives you a blueprint for all potential advertising and outreach. Promotional events, social media, and paid ads are just some ways you can help get your restaurant off the ground, and investors will be very interested to hear what you have planned.

9. Takeout and delivery

Having reliable delivery and takeout services is pretty important for most target audiences. In fact, 51% of consumers said if they cannot order delivery or takeout from a restaurant, they probably won’t visit them for dine-in as often. Offering off-premise dining options will increase your order volume and customer base.

If you’re hoping to have takeout and delivery capabilities at your restaurant, Grubhub makes it easy . Whether you want to use your own drivers or our professional fleet, we offer :

  • Grubhub Delivery: Our fleet of Grubhub Drivers pick up and deliver orders to your customers’ doors. We coordinate and pay the delivery drivers — all you have to do is provide the food.
  • Supplemental Delivery: Utilize our delivery fleet of 300,000 drivers to widen your customer base.
  • Self Delivery: Use your own drivers to deliver Grubhub orders to diners. You have full control over delivery and fees, but benefit from Grubhub online ordering.
  • Pickup: Set up a Grubhub account to accept pickup and deliver orders from your customers, letting you reach new customers and increase sales.

10. External providers

To make your restaurant a reality, you’ll likely need a bit of help. Make a list of any external companies or software you plan to use or hire to get your restaurant up off the ground. This could be accountants who you wish to balance your books or designers who can help make your design dreams a reality. This list may also include outside suppliers for your food and beverages. Who is it that you want to partner with when it comes to receiving your raw ingredients and materials? Do you want to source locally or use a distant distributor? Whoever it is that you want to potentially work with, write them down!

Luckily, when you join Grubhub you not only do have your food delivery and pickup service partner chosen, you can also simplify your order and menu management using Grubhub for Restaurants’ easy technology integration . Our tech integrations allow orders to come from the Grubhub app or directly to your kitchen. Plus, you can create a customized online ordering site with Direct . Encourage customers to place a commission-free order right from your restaurant’s website.

11. Customer service policies and procedures

As a business owner, you want to give your customers a five-star experience at your restaurant. Creating customer service policies and procedures will help ensure that your staff create a great dining experience for your customers. Have a blueprint for how certain situations will be handled and what you’ll do if problems arise. For example, if a customer has an issue with the food, your entire staff should know how to handle the circumstance and what to say to the diner. Then, ensure that your staff is all on the same page about your expectations for them and consistently utilize the same guidelines and approach.

12. Financial projections

Finally, it’s time to address the financial side of your business, especially if you’re using your business plan to acquire startup funds or additional capital after you’re already operational.

If you’re pre-launch, your projections are just that: guesses. But these guesses should be based on market research, actual expenses, and projected income, culminating in a five-year look at everything from estimated revenue to capital expenditure budgets.

If your business is up and running, you’ll include actual financial records such as cash flow statements and your P&Ls, ideally for the last five years. Use colorful charts and graphs to highlight financial wins and make it easier for investors to gauge your company’s financial health quickly.

pie chart from Honeybee Burger restaurant business plan

If you’re asking for funding, specify how those funds will be used and whether you have collateral you’re able to put up to secure a loan.

Start writing your own restaurant business plan

Now that you understand the various steps for creating a strategic restaurant business plan , it’s time for you to create your own. Download our Restaurant Business Plan template to draft your restaurants’ operational foundation. Use this as a playbook for you to refer back to whenever you make business decisions.

Once you get your business plan off the ground, consider partnering with Grubhub. Platforms like Marketplace can make it easier than ever to capture the attention of new customers and reinvigorate relationships with existing customers by offering quick-click access to ordering and stress-free pickup or delivery.

Ready to reach millions of hungry customers? Sign up for  Grubhub for Restaurants  today!

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How to write a restaurant business plan.

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A small restaurant business plan is the roadmap you use to open a successful spot. As a first step to creating yours, ask your friends and colleagues to share restaurant business plan examples. Their restaurant business plan samples can inspire yours.

Once you’ve studied those examples, it’s time to start writing your own. No matter how much thought you’ve put into your concept or how many trusted colleagues have assured you of its greatness, you must write a restaurant business plan. It will prove the viability of your concept to potential investors and provide them with a clear and engaging answer to the question: “Why does the world need this restaurant?”

“The point of a business plan is to show that you’ve done your homework,” says Charles Bililies, owner of Souvla , a fine casual Greek restaurant in San Francisco that has received national acclaim since opening in the spring of 2014.

“You have to show any potential investor that you have an actual plan, you know what you’re talking about, it looks professional, and you’re not just screwing around.”

Quick links Branded cover Table of contents 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 finalized), the date, and your name.

2. Table of contents

A table of contents in a restaurant business plan provides an organized overview of the document’s structure and content. It typically appears at the beginning of the plan and lists the major sections and subsections with their corresponding page numbers.

The table of contents is important for several reasons. Firstly, it allows readers to quickly navigate through the plan, enabling easy access to specific sections of interest. Secondly, it helps in presenting a professional and well-structured document, showing that you have carefully organized your thoughts and ideas. It also improves readability and comprehension, as readers can easily locate and refer back to relevant information

Image depicts a restaurant worker in a new restaurant.

A restaurant owner contemplates the design of a new space as part of their business plan. | Credit: Getty Images

3. Restaurant concept

Describe your restaurant concept and get the reader excited about your idea. Specify whether the restaurant will be fine dining or more casual. Include an executive summary and 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 and include your mission statement. This section should include a market analysis that shows how your restaurant will be similar and different from competing restaurants.

4. 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 that are based on a detailed cost analysis. This will:

  • Give investors a clear understanding of your targeted price point
  • Provide the info needed to estimate check averages
  • Show the numbers used create financial projections for starting costs
  • Show investors that you’ve done the homework
  • Prove you can stay within a budget

This section is most relevant for:

  • Fine-dining concepts
  • Concepts that have a unique service style
  • Owners who have particularly strong feelings about what role service will play in their 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 and restaurant hostess software designed to get guests on their way as quickly as possible, or will it look more like a theater, 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.

Image depicts two restaurant workers discussing finances.

Two restaurant workers review finances for a new restaurant as part of their business plan. | Credit: Getty Images

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.

Ideally, once you have described the strong suit of every member of your team, you’ll be presenting a full pitch 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.

Incorporate some visuals. Create a mood board that shows images related to the design and feeling of your restaurant.

Whether you’re planning to cook in a wood-burning oven or are designing an eclectic front-of-house, be sure to include those ideas. Photos of materials and snippets of other restaurants that you love that are similar to the brand you’re building are also helpful.

8. 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 appeal to them.

Image depicts two restaurant workers having a discussion.

Two restaurant workers discuss a business plan. | Credit: Getty Images

9. 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 neighborhoods.

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 neighborhood(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, freeway accessibility, outdoor seating , and other important details.

10. Market overview

Address the micro and macro market conditions in your area and how they relate to licenses and permits. 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 who your direct competitors are. Talk about what types of restaurants share your target market and how you’ll differentiate yourself.

11. Marketing and publicity

The restaurant landscape is only getting more competitive. Discuss your pre- and post-opening marketing plans to show investors how you plan to 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.

Image depicts two restaurant workers having a discussion over a tablet.

Using technology, like these two restaurant workers, can streamline discussions about a business plan. | Credit: Getty Images

12. Specialists and consultants

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

  • General contractor
  • PR and marketing

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

13. 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 an attorney to help you determine what business structure is best for you.

“Step one: write a business plan. Step two: hire a good attorney. In addition to helping me build a smart, sustainable business structure, my attorney 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,” says Charles Bililies.

14. Financial projections

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

Before creating realistic financial projections, your accountant will want to know:

  • How many seats the restaurant will have
  • What your average check will be
  • How many covers per day you plan to do

Being conservative in these estimations is key. 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, emphasizes, “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

Writing a comprehensive restaurant business plan is a crucial step towards opening a successful establishment. By seeking inspiration from examples, demonstrating your expertise, and addressing all the essential components, you can prove the viability of your concept to potential investors.

Remember, a well-prepared business plan demonstrates professionalism and a clear understanding of your goals, increasing your chances of achieving long-term success in the competitive restaurant industry.

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How To Write A Restaurant Business Plan in 2023- All You Need To Know

The Complete Guide to a Winning Restaurant Business Plan

The first step to opening your restaurant business is to have a clear, unambiguous idea of your restaurant; what is it that you plan to create and sell. A Restaurant Business Plan acts as a guideline, a roadmap for the future development of your restaurant business. It is the blueprint for operating your restaurant.  What you must remember while writing a restaurant business plan is that it is for your use and clarity of thought. It is more of a guide you develop for yourself to understand how you will be running your restaurant business. From a business plan, a business proposal is generated which is to be shared with outside parties like investors and bank authorities.

Even though it is mostly for internal use, you need to know how to write the restaurant business plan properly. It needs to be structured in an easy, understandable, logical, and feasible manner. Your restaurant plan should also be sustainable in the long run. Moreover, it’s required so that you can maintain what your restaurant is about, where you plan to take it and how you plan to achieve those goals. You should consider all the opportunities and pitfalls of your restaurant business well while writing a business plan for your restaurant. But before you put your dreams of opening a restaurant on paper, read this detailed piece on How To Open A Restaurant Business . This article will be a comprehensive guide on ‘How To Write A Restaurant Business Plan’.

What Your Restaurant Business Plan Should Include

While writing a restaurant business plan, you must include:-

  • Summary of the Restaurant Business Plan
  • Business Overview
  • Industry Analysis
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Operations Plan
  • Financial Analysis
  • Marketing Plan

A tip to effectively write a restaurant business plan is to not write it as a finished document but in structured parts, for example, even though the ‘Summary’ of your business will be the first thing in your plan, it is better to write it at the end as that way you will have a more structured idea of what all is in the plan and what all you need to include in the summary. Similarly, it is better to conduct and write regarding your ‘SWOT Analysis’ before the ‘Industry Analysis’ as only after knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are can you place yourself in the Industry and determine your competitors.

The Complete Guide to a Winning Restaurant Business Plan

Here is a downloadable business plan template that would help you create a winning business plan using the points mentioned below.

1. Summary of the Restaurant Business

Your restaurant plan should begin with an overview of the summary of your restaurant concept that acts as an introduction to your business. This is the gateway to your restaurant business plan and so it is essential to get it just right, but at the same time, you must keep it short and precise.

It should include things such as your mission statement, a review of your restaurant’s legal structure and ownership, a brief history of the restaurant if it’s an existing restaurant, and future plans of your restaurant business.  Your restaurant plan should be an overview of your business comprising of all-around strategies.

2. Business Overview

The next step in the creation of a restaurant business plan is describing your restaurant concept. You should be able to clearly define what would be the USP of your restaurant and why it will work.  You should provide the reason behind the concept of your restaurant,  why the concept will be successful, your plan to make it a reality, its cost, and the anticipated return on investment.  While deciding upon the concept, you should be able to answer:

  • What makes your concept unique or needed
  • Why your concept will work
  • What are you aiming at?
  • Who are you going to cater to?
  • Who will be your target clientele?
  • What service/product you will provide to your target clientele?

If you haven’t decided already, this article will help you choose the right concept for your upcoming restaurant.

The Business Overview of the Restaurant Plan comprises of three aspects-

a) The Layout of the Restaurant/ Type of Service

b) Sample Menu

C) management team.

The next process of writing the restaurant business plan would be deciding the cuisine and the menu. By this time you should be clear about your pricing as you would have already decided your clientele.

a) The Layout of the Restaurant / Type of Service

You need to mention the format and the design of your restaurant in the Restaurant Business Plan. The design and layout of the restaurant should be in sync with the format of the restaurant. For example, the interior design of a fine-dine restaurant would be different from that of a fast-food restaurant. Also, include the cutlery, kitchen equipment, staff uniform that would complement the brand image of the restaurant in the business plan.

A good descriptive summary of the style of the service, as well as the promptness, is necessary to communicate the conceptual image of the restaurant properly. Will your restaurant be self-service or would you provide wait staff, how qualified will that staff be, do you plan to have sections in your restaurant, all of these must be considered and mentioned in this section.

Needless to say, your menu is the heart of your restaurant plan . It is generally accepted by restaurant entrepreneurs that if you serve excellent food, your restaurant will be able to survive the competition. Thus what you plan to offer is an integral part of the restaurant business plan.

Your sample menu should be a simple list of items with half and full prices . Even if you plan to add on to the menu later, do not include the dishes you will not immediately serve at your restaurant. This is so because most of the time, new dishes are not simply added to the restaurant menu, instead, the menu is optimized. This means that low-performing dishes are removed and newer, better dishes are added in their place. This way innovation is ensured while keeping costs low and menu design in place.

Apart from that, your menu should be guided by the availability of ingredients. Instead of going for a fancy and difficult menu with 10 dishes of paneer or chicken, it is always favorable to go for 4 dishes of veg and 2 dishes of non-veg, for example.  It is recommended that  while making a sample menu design, don’t go for dishes that require hard to procure ingredients or complicated techniques to prepare it. Your menu should be balanced, between cold or hot and heavy and light dishes. The reason is that generally, the chefs who apply at restaurants are less skilled and mostly unemployed.  So in a crisis when the chef leaves your restaurant, you can hire another chef with lesser difficulty.

But your head chef should be skilled and creative enough to be able to take the risk of experimenting with texture and taste. However, make sure that you don’t miss out on popular options demanded by your target audience. You could also look up some of the small restaurant business plan samples to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.

Your Restaurant Plan should also include the details of your Management Team. This list would include the Owner, General Manager, and Head Chef. It will also include the responsibilities assigned to each member for clarity.

3. Industry Analysis

The Complete Guide to a Winning Restaurant Business Plan

You should be able to identify your target customers, their spending behavior, their purchasing power, and other demographics. You can serve them better once you know what they expect and how much they are willing to shell out. The Industry Analysis primarily consists of Location Analysis, Target Audience Analysis, and Competition Analysis. Here we have explained everything in short, for a detailed guide on how to do an industry analysis for your restaurant business plan, click  here. 

You must also look at some of the small restaurant business plan samples on the net. 

a) Location Analysis

Finding the ideal location for your restaurant is one of the biggest challenges that you will face. There should be a clear connection between the location of your restaurant, the format of your restaurant, and your target audience.

The location analysis for your restaurant business plan should describe the market conditions that exist in the location (or general area) you have selected. If your restaurant is in a mall, it is likely to attract families.  If the location you choose is surrounded by colleges, hostels, and PGs, mainly teenagers will be the ones visiting your restaurant. Whichever location you choose, it should have the following features:

  • The location of your restaurant should be easily accessible .
  • It would be better if your restaurant has a parking area .
  • Your location should be Google-map-friendly .
  • Information gathered and displayed here should include demographic statistics, a description of local industry and the competition around you. 
  • At the same time, figure out how you plan to manage the supplies in the future with minimum shipping and delivery charges. So choose a location near the vendors and suppliers.
  • Do think about the prospects as well . It is likely that in the coming future when your restaurant business will be growing, you will have to acquire more employees and purchase more equipment. More customers will be walking in your restaurant, so you should be able to assess whether your restaurant can provide adequate seating, parking, storage, preparation areas, etc.

b) Target Audience Analysis

It is important to do a Target Audience Analysis to come up with a comprehensive Restaurant Business Plan. It is not necessary to appeal to everyone.   You should know whom your restaurant will be serving, which class they would belong to, and their specific food habits, and their spending habits.   The aim of doing a target audience analysis is to know which portion of the population is most likely to come to your restaurant.  Analyze the customer demographic and the behavior of the customers that you are aiming to target.

For analyzing, first,  you have to conduct primary research of what constitutes the population near your restaurant.  For example, if you are opening up a restaurant in a student-centric area surrounded by PGs and hostels, it will be better if you are running a fast-food restaurant, a takeaway joint, or casual dining serving at a lower price and with more funky interiors. If you are planning to open up a restaurant in a residential area or where there are a lot of corporate offices, they will usually have a higher spending capacity.  So depending on that you can go for casual dining or fine dining.  Also, your target customers should be living within 3 miles of the location of your restaurant. The closer, the better it is. Accordingly, plan out your mediums of marketing as well which would appeal to your target customers.

c) Competition Analysis

High competition is one of the biggest challenges of the restaurant industry.  However, the competition can also have a positive impact on your restaurant business, as it would bring in the customers. Also, if you do not have any competitor in an area, it may mean that none of your competitors were able to survive the market there so you should take a second look at the location before finalizing it for your restaurant. Still, while opening a new restaurant, you should analyze the competition in the area in terms of both the present competitors and the prospective ones. You should identify and include the list of restaurants with similar concepts as yours in your Restaurant Business Plan. After you have already identified your competitors, you need to conduct your research in the following areas:

  • The market segment your competitors serve.
  • The item which is maximum purchased by the customers.
  • What promotion/marketing strategies are being used by the competitor.
  • Serving capacity, operational hours of your competitors.
  • The strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.
  • The growth rate of your competitors . You can conduct primary research on these aspects by visiting the places or secondary research by regularly following the updates on their website, reviews on their pages, and their other social media profiles.

4.  SWOT Analysis

Doing a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threats) Analysis must be included in your Restaurant Business Plan as it helps you identify internal and external factors that would impact the restaurant’s future. Not only does it warn you regarding what could go wrong and what your weaknesses are, but it also gives you a detailed insight regarding your strengths and opportunities so you will be able to use them better.

SWOT analysis of a restaurant, restaurant business plan, how to write a restaurant business plan

a) Strength-  Strengths are the strong points of your restaurant that can drive its growth. They are the reasons your restaurant will be a success. Strengths are the first thing you analyze while writing a restaurant business plan. Your strengths can include things like the USP of your restaurant, competitive pricing, prime location, quick service, etc.

b) Weakness- Weaknesses are the weak links in your restaurant that can slow its growth. These are the things that your restaurant is not good at but they can be worked upon. It is also essential to consider the weakness of your restaurant so that you may be prepared to tackle the problems that may arise from them. For instance, as a new business, your weakness may be an unestablished brand identity or untrained staff.

c) Opportunity- Opportunities are upcoming trends in the market which no one has grasped onto yet. If grasped at the right time and invested in, opportunities can take your business to the next level. Analyze the gaps in the current market trends and note how you can benefit from them. For example, as a new concept in the area, you can have a First Mover Advantage. A viable opportunity can be anything like the increase in demand for vegan food or even the availability of better restaurant technology.

d) Threats- Threats can be anything that may pose damage to your restaurant business. These are external factors that you have no control over yet they may hamper business. These can range from anything; from a new restaurant competition to a sudden shortage of supplies. The best way to deal with threats to your restaurant business is to prepare how you will tackle them in advance and include it in your restaurant business plan.

5. Operations Plan

The Complete Guide to a Winning Restaurant Business Plan

The Operations Plan is an integral part of your Restaurant Business Plan as it includes how the restaurant would function in the daily operations.

a) Staff Management

Another significant challenge that you are going to face after you have found your space, planned the layout and the interiors have been done is finding the right people to run your restaurant. You should be aware that your restaurant is a labor-intensive business. Your team is the backbone of your restaurant so they should be treated with the utmost care. When your restaurant is in profits, you need to make your team a part of your success so that they also feel a participated in happiness.

The Restaurant Business Plan should include points such as the number of employees you would need in each area of operations, such as the Kitchen and the Service Area. Also include the entire Recruitment Procedure, Job Descriptions, and the Training Manual. 

As a general rule, you will need the following staff

  • Kitchen staff:  Cooks, assistants, prep staff, pantry, washing staff. For bars, you will also need bartenders.
  • Service staff:  Waiters, orders takers, counter staff, delivery staff, cleaning, housekeeping, security.
  • Management staff: Restaurant manager, chef, cashier, storekeeper, purchase manager.

Spotting the Right Employee

Before writing the business plan, the restaurant owner should decide whether the staff and team will comprise only localities or migrants from smaller towns and cities as well. It is always better to include a mixed culture of people which will not only create a backup during respective festive seasons but also will bring diversity to the restaurant. No matter who you select, the employees you hire must match certain standards. Your wait staff must have good communication skills and a charming personality, your kitchen staff must be agile and quick on their feet, your manager must not only be a good employee but a good leader as well.

Training the Staff

To ensure that your staff is up to date with industry standards, you should hold training sessions regularly related to food preparation, healthy kitchen practices, smart waste management, approaching the customers with a professional attitude, handling customers’ reviews and complaints, and so on. Do not just assume that an employee is supposed to know his/her job. Create a training manual and train your employees according to it. If you merely give them a booklet and expect them to learn it and und implement it on their own, it will lead to a lot of miscommunication in the team leading to poor customer service and lousy restaurant performance.  Create a Training Plan for your employees and make the hired employees undergo extensive training before the opening of the restaurant.

b) Customer Service

Deciding upon the kind of service that you would provide in your restaurant is essential and must be included in the Restaurant Business Plan as it affects the entire guest experience. You should decide the type of customer service that you would be provided based on your restaurant format.

  • Table d’ hotel ( TDH )-  A table d’hôte menu in restaurant terminology can be defined as a menu where multi-course meals with only a few choices are charged at a fixed total price. Such a menu may be called a prix fixe or fixed price. The terms set meal and set menu are also used. The cutlery on the table is already set for all of the courses.
  • A la carte-  Table d’hôte contrasts with à la carte, where customers may order any of the separately priced menu items available. À la carte is an English language loan phrase meaning “according to the menu”. It refers to food that can be ordered as separate items, rather than part of a set meal.
  • Silver service or Platter to Plate-  Silver service is a method of food service that usually includes serving food at the table. It is a technique of transferring food from a dish to the guest’s plate from the left.  The waiter does this by using service forks and spoons from the diner’s left. Plates are cleared from the right, glasses from the right; again by starting with the guest to the host’s right. Glasses are stacked in a diagonal to the right and away, with wine (by course) in order and then water glass.

6. Financials

financial analysis of a restaurant, restaurant business plan

While writing the business plan for a restaurant, the most important point to remember when it comes to finances is to be realistic. You should have a personal financial statement and balance sheet in place, with the regular cash flow statement. The owner should be aware of all the cash inflows and outflows and should carefully keep track of all the money that is debited and credited in the business accounts. The owner should also be conservative in the initial days of the restaurant. 

It is not necessary that your first-day sales will be replicated and when you are a new restaurant, money is slow. Apart from that reaching break-even as soon as possible is important to stay afloat and make profits thus cash should never be taken for granted. For example, a lot of times the restaurant owners become too ambitious and they start expecting good revenue from the first day itself like Rs 10,000 on the first day and in the same proportion on the other days. This over- assumption may prove to be harmful because there might be an extreme case when there might not be a single customer in your restaurant so you should be prepared for it both psychologically and emotionally. Thus, Financial Analysis is an important part of the Restaurant Business Plan. You must include the Cash Flow Statement, Revenue Projections, and Cost Analysis in the Business Plan.

a) Cash Flow Statement

It is the record of where the money is coming from and where it is going. In other words, it is the mapping of your restaurant. This is one of the important tools which everybody should spend time on. Not only does it give you a clear picture of where the money is coming from and where it is going, but it is also crucial when it comes to planning for your restaurant’s future. To know more about why you must spend time on your cash flow statement, read  The Importance of a Cash Flow Statement

b) Capital: Where the money is coming from

This part of your restaurant business plan will comprise your financials or your partner’s financials and how much you are ready to invest. It will also include contingencies that may come up and funds for the same.

After mentioning how much your capital is and where it is coming from, you need to allocate funds to operating expenses, fixed expenses, marketing, and other departments of your restaurant. You will also mention how long you will support the system and when you expect to break even. Apart from that also set up a contingency fund for unforeseen events.

c) Expenses: Where the money is going

Capital and Operating Expenses give you the details of where the money is being spent.

  • Capital expenses- Also called Fixed Costs, Capital Expenses are those expenses that are fixed in nature and are not recurring. These are long-term investments that you will do in your restaurant, like the cost of equipment and machinery, cost of utensils, interior designing cost, tables, chairs, cutlery, crockeries, wall hangings, chandeliers, etc.
  • Operating Expenses – These are the costs that you will incur to run your restaurant. These are recurring costs like salary, depreciation on equipment, rent, electricity, etc. You need to assume these costs and the projection has to be made along with the operation team.
  • Cost Projection-  The Cost projection of the restaurant should be done for at least 6 months.
  • Revenue Projection- Understanding the scope of business is essential. Now that you have a survey about your localities, you have your operating team in place, you have your menu and cuisines decided, you have knowledge of the expenses and, you can then easily derive the revenue projection. Majorly in revenue projection, you need to understand the amount of footfall to expect.
  • Revenue per person- As per the menu which you have created, you need to understand and analyze how much per person average you will be able to earn. Once you know that your APC (revenue per person) is X amount, then multiply with the assumed footfall and create the revenue projection for a daily, monthly, and quarterly basis.
  •   Statements of Income- As for now, you have your expenses ready and so is your revenue projection, with these data you can calculate your gross profit/ Return on Investment/PBT /PBAT. This statement of income will be your roadmap for opening a restaurant.

It is always better to be a little conservative rather than generous when comes to revenue projection and more generous in terms of expense statements.

7. Restaurant Marketing

The F&B space is getting competitive day by day. Therefore, another essential step while writing a restaurant business plan is marketing.  You should have a clear picture of your market strategy beforehand. Plan out a budget for both online and offline marketing. For every rupee you earn, a portion should be dedicated to marketing the restaurant . Always have a visual block-free logo with a simple design and a simple name. However, the branding of a restaurant is determined by the country in which the restaurant is located.

a) Restaurant Launch

It is better to go for a soft launch before throwing an official launch party. A soft launch with your friends and family will give you unadulterated feedback of the restaurant and you will know what all to improve. At least after a buffer of 3-4 months, go for the official and the hard launch, where you would invite all the named and famous people of the industry and even outside the industry like politicians, journalists, food bloggers, and critics. The most common mistake the restaurateurs make is having a hard launch on the first day of their restaurant when they do not have a financial backup to provide free drinks and food to the people coming to the launch . So this buffer period of 3-4 months will not only give you and your employees the time to be well versed with handling operations of the restaurant but you will also have enough cash in hand for a successful launch.

b) Online and Offline Marketing

Plan out your marketing strategy on both online and offline platforms. Through your marketing strategy, define your restaurant’s specialties and state how your restaurant will stand apart despite the prevalent competition in the restaurant space. Your marketing strategy shall be determined by contemporary market trends. Smart marketing strategies use elements of all these promotional options to build a restaurant brand and engage the restaurant’s core customers while keeping costs manageable. You need to understand how to utilize the various channels on social media so that you get the maximum ROI from them.

Also, you could use your restaurant POS to create different marketing campaigns for your restaurant to increase overall sales and grow your brand name.

(i) Online Marketing

The Complete Guide to a Winning Restaurant Business Plan

  • Website: Your website can prove to be the most important channel for your marketing. You should be able to maintain an attractive, informative, and responsive website which will comprise all the important information about your restaurant. The stronger the impression that your website makes, the more publicity you’ll get from media outlets and review sites. List your restaurant website on online listing & travel websites like TripAdvisor, Zomato, Burrp & more. Also, do not forget to list your restaurant business on Google. You need to be discoverable all through the life of your business and Google is crucial to that. Read more about the importance of a website for your restaurant here.
  • Blog:  You can start a blog for your restaurant that will allow you to promote your restaurant activities. A blog can help you by strengthening your digital reputation and a better SEO ranking and ability to build your database for newsletters, digital marketing, and email campaigns. You can get even more mileage from your blog by publishing posts by guest authors.
  • Social Media Platforms-  Having a social media presence for any restaurant is very important. By adding social media to your marketing strategy, you can increase awareness about your restaurant amongst your clientele. You can promote discount coupons, offers, loyalty programs, and events on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Learn the tips for the social media success of your restaurant here.
  • Email Marketing-  Email marketing has always been one of the most reliable forms of marketing for gaining customer loyalty. If you are new to this, you could also have software for your email marketing. The restaurants can show their regards to new subscribers with a discount code for their next visit. Email marketing is especially effective to nurture customers as opposed to getting new customers. Your customers should be able to send a direct reply to emails that you have sent out.  It is always advisable to not send an email from a ‘no-reply’ address. Include these points of email marketing for a restaurant in your restaurant business plan.

Find out how to do the digital marketing of your restaurant the right way here .

(ii) Offline Marketing

Apart from the online marketing of your restaurants, there are a lot of ideas for offline marketing for your restaurants.

  • Engaging with Food Bloggers
  • Hosting Events
  • Advertising through signages and billboards
  • Distributing pamphlets
  • Radio Mentions
  • Television or Newspaper Advertising

Learn more about Offline Marketing for restaurants here .

(iii) Customer Relationship Management

In today’s century, restaurants are facing unprecedented challenges in all aspects. One of the challenges is to cater to changing eating preferences and habits. So in such a scenario, it has become vital for restaurants to analyze and understand the differences and changes in the customers’ behavior, food preferences, eating habits, and then look for more opportunities to serve them better. Before the customers start coming in, you need to ensure how you will accumulate the customer data and use it to generate more business. Include the channels through which you will acquire the customer details in your restaurant business plan, and also the strategies through which you will engage with your future guests.

You should have software which covers various important aspects. It needs to integrate easily with the software that you are already using, and that may indeed require custom CRM development. Your main focus should be on customer retention and increasing sales growth. Learn how Integrated CRM increases Customer Loyalty and improves restaurant sales here. 

customer relationship management, CRM, marketing, restaurant business plan

First of all, a CRM system aims to gather information about their customer to initiate the building of the customer relationship in 4 aspects:

1) The contact details of the customer (Phone number, email, address) 2)The frequency of visits  (what time of the week or month they tend to visit) 3) Preferences/ detailed profile of what they usually eat 4) Average Spend per visit.

Using the features of the Loyalty Program

Once your customer registers on your loyalty program, their profile is created. Then, it becomes easier to track the frequency of the customer’s visits, how much they spend per visit, what are their preferences. With this, you get an effective platform to engage and interact with your customers. With a loyalty program, any restaurant can give its customers advanced access to new dishes, special discount coupons, or a free meal.

  • Real-time updates and personalized recommendations for your customers.
  • You can Reward your loyal customers with a gift, a discount coupon. Stay in regular touch with your customers through email and text messages. You can send your customers a birthday/anniversary wish.
  • You can give your customers something at the end of the meal with a sense of gratitude as a surprise.
  • Also with the CRM system, after analyzing customers’ history, you will be able to find out if a particular customer is a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian. Then, depending on that if a new non-vegetarian dish is launched, it would be taken into account that the specific email about that dish does not go to the vegetarian customer. Thus, making the process of customer relationship building more specific to your valuable customers will help you in the longer run.
  • Interact with your customers on social media platforms. Make them feel important.


Michelin stars: what they are and how restaurants earn them, how to choose the best shoes for your restaurant staff, the complete guide to dynamic menu pricing for restaurants, 13 comments.

Awesome. Very useful pointers to consider for your Restaurants business plan. Thank you for providing such a valuable information.

good pointers

Great article. Must read before starting a restaurant business.

Thank you for the valuable information!

It’s a very good n important things to know the basic knowledge before starting the restaurant business ,thnx n i really appreciate for this beautiful article …..!!!!

The article is very well explained and is very comprehensive. A business plan will be the roadmap from which your new restaurant develops. No matter how much thought you’ve put into your concept or how many trusted colleagues have assured you of its greatness, you absolutely must write a business plan. It will prove the viability of your concept to potential investors and provide them with a clear and engaging answer to the question. Good Read.

Great tips on how to write a restaurant business plan. Please provide a downloadable restaurant business plan pdf also.

A very well-knit article. Creating a restaurant business plan in India is one of the first steps to start a successful restaurant venture. This article will come in handy for all the aspiring restaurant owners who are on the lookout for a detailed guideline to kickstart the restaurant business operations. Well done! 🙂

Anyone who is planning to open a restaurant would totally agree that writing a restaurant business plan is not an easy task. I like how this article talks about every aspect that will help map out a restaurant business plan, would highly recommend this article!

hello…. Great Article Very useful pointers to consider for Restaurants business. Thank you for sharing such a valuable information with us.

very very useful and thorough….

Hi want to connect with professional who can help me in setting a bakery. Right from kitchen setup to the shop.

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Restaurant Business Plan

Restaurant Business Plan: What To Include, Plus 8 Examples

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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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How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan (with Samples)

Create A Restaurant Business Plan

Table of Contents

Jump to: 

What Should a Restaurant Business Plan Include?

Sample restaurant business plans.

  • Better Market Your Restaurant

If you’ve made the decision to start your own restaurant, congratulations! Running your own business is incredibly exciting, and can be rewarding as well. Yet having a great idea is just the first step in the process – you’ll need to put in a lot of work to make your dream a reality.

To start, you will need a concrete, detailed business plan. Not only will this plan serve as a blueprint for how you will run your restaurant, it is also necessary to secure funding. But, knowing that you need a solid restaurant business plan is different from actually writing one.

Below, we outline what you should cover in a business plan for your restaurant. This guide is meant to help you get started as you begin the process of opening up your own place. If you’re ready to move to the next level, reach out to Budget Branders for a quote on custom branded disposable products for your restaurant . Our custom printed disposables are the most cost-effective advertising your restaurant could invest in.

A business plan isn’t something that you should just slap together to check it off of your to-do list. A well-drafted business plan will demonstrate the viability of your concept to potential investors and show that you have done your homework. 

A strong business plan should contain a number of components to ensure that it covers most or all of the questions that investors may have.  It should also be professionally printed and bound, with a branded cover that includes your logo and/or slogan . The business plan should start with an executive summary, which should include a brief overview of what is contained in the entire document.

Read on to learn more about what should be contained in a restaurant business plan.

When you decided to open a restaurant, you probably did so on the basis of a great concept or idea.  Your concept is what makes your restaurant unique – and what will bring customers in the door. 

Spend some time fleshing out your concept, describing your inspiration, the type of food that you will be serving, and an overview of how your restaurant will be run.  Make sure that you explain what makes your concept unique.

For example, after a health scare, you decided to focus on a more plant-based diet. You noticed that few restaurants in the area offer vegetarian or vegan options, and decided to open a restaurant that offers a fresh take on healthy, mostly vegetarian foods. In your restaurant plan, you can describe why you decided to go this route, what type of food you plan to serve, and how this concept sets you apart from other restaurants in the region.

Sample Menu

The menu is one of the most important elements of any successful restaurant. After all, you can have the best concept and the most amazing location, but if your food is bland and uninspired, no one will want to patronize your establishment.  For this reason, a sample menu is a critical component of a restaurant business plan.

The sample menu shouldn’t just be a list of what you plan to serve. Instead, you should mock up a menu that looks like it could be handed out to diners. It should also include prices for each option that are based on a detailed cost analysis. Including these prices will demonstrate to potential investors that you have done the necessary work to make your business successful.

An attractive, pleasing design is critical to the success of any restaurant. Studies show that we use all five senses when eating, so that things such as the color of tableware can affect how a person feels about a meal. Having a good design concept can also help to lure in customers who want to take pictures – and share them on social media.

As part of your business plan, be sure to include elements of your proposed design. Include swatches of color, pictures of your inspiration, and anything else that may be relevant. For example, if you plan to cook food in a wood-burning oven, sending delicious, smoky scents wafting throughout the restaurant, describe that element in your business plan. If you want to include a wall of plants to attract Instagram Influencers, be sure to include that information as well. 

Although you may not have identified a specific location yet, it is important to include some details about where you plan to operate, as this will affect profitability. For example, if your goal is to provide to-go breakfast and lunch meals for workers, specify that you want to find a space near large office buildings or in a downtown area.

If you haven’t picked out a site for your restaurant, list the criteria that you will use to select a place. This may include information such as parking, square footage, availability of outdoor dining, accessibility to major highways, and foot traffic.

Market Overview

Before anyone can know that your restaurant is a good investment, they have to know about the market.  This section should include both micro and macro economic factors that influence profitability – everything from COVID-19 restrictions (macro) to direct competitors in your area. Describe each of these in detail, and address how you plan to overcome any challenges or differentiate yourself from other restaurants.

Target Market

In this section, you will describe who you think will eat at your restaurant. Will they be young or older? What is their average income? Talk in detail about who you think will patronize your restaurant – and why you think that your concept will appeal to them. For example, if you’re trying to appeal to a young crowd/ Gen Z , you may talk about how you plan to offer healthy choices, vegetarian options, and convenient delivery.

Service Style

We have moved beyond the basic restaurant service options of fast food and fine dining. There are a lot of different types of restaurant services now, from take-out only to fast casual to pop-ups. If there is anything unique about your planned service style, it should be included as part of your business plan. 

Management Team

One of the most critical elements of a successful business is the people who are running it. If you want investors to take a chance on your restaurant concept, you will need to show that you have the experience necessary to turn a profit. 

In this section of the business plan, introduce each member of the management team. Describe their work experience, both in the industry and in business generally. This will give potential investors a good idea of the likelihood of making money.

Business Structure

Before you open for business, you will need to establish some type of business structure – such as a partnership, an LLC, or even a corporation. Explain what business structure you have chosen and why you selected it.


Behind every successful business owner is a team of specialists. No matter how good you may be at running a restaurant, you can’t go it alone. You will likely need a team of consultants – such as a lawyer, accountant, general contractor, or marketing agency – to truly succeed.

Investors want to know that you understand your limitations, and have planned accordingly. Listing your outside consultants shows that you have considered all of the various aspects of running a business. Be sure to explain the services that they will provide, why you selected them, and how much they charge for their services.

Marketing Plan

The success of any business is dependent in part on branding and marketing. You can have the most delicious food at the best prices around, and if people don’t know about your restaurant, they won’t patronize it. In this section, describe what you plan to do to market your business – such as developing a website, retaining a marketing company, establishing social media accounts, and even using branded paper bags for your takeout items.

Finally, it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty. How much is this going to cost? 

Most entrepreneurs will need the help of a financial professional to draft this section of the business plan. You will need to incorporate data points, such as labor cost percentages , average check amount, and how many meals you plan to serve each day, to determine whether your concept is financially viable.

An accountant can also help you make financial projections that should be included in your business plan. This may include a projected budget for capital, a break even analysis, and a pro forma profit and loss statement for the first 3 to 5 years of operation. 

Feeling overwhelmed? This may seem like a lot, but each of these elements is necessary if you want a solid business plan that will attract investors. Fortunately, there are a number of sample restaurant business plans available online for you to review:

  • Specialty restaurant and bakery business plans
  • Basic restaurant business plan template
  • Small restaurant business plan
  • Pizza shop business plan
  • Fast food business plan
  • Steak house business plan
  • Café business plan
  • Traditional restaurant business plan
  • Fast-casual restaurant business plan

These samples can help you get a good idea of what you should – and should not be  – including in your business plan. If you are concerned about your ability to draft this type of document, consider reaching out for help. There are many writers and business professionals who have significant experience making business plans. Hiring one as a consultant can help make the process easier and less stressful for you.

Market Your Restaurant with Budget Branders

Writing a restaurant business plan is hard work. Marketing your restaurant doesn’t have to be. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to spread the word about your establishment is through custom branded disposable products.

Budget Branders offers high quality branded cups , bowls , bags , and more in quantities and at prices that make sense for small and medium sized businesses. As entrepreneurs ourselves, we understand the challenges that come from running a company – and we’re here to help.

If you’d like to learn more or to request a quote, contact us today by pressing the live chat button, or sending us a message online.

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Why Write a Small Restaurant Business Plan?

Research the market, market your restaurant, financials and pricing, set milestones and goals, tips to run a small restaurant business, download your free small restaurant business plan template, how to write a small restaurant business plan + free business plan template.

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Makenna Crocker

6 min. read

Updated November 1, 2023

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.

Are you passionate about food and dream of opening your own small restaurant? Picture yourself creating delectable dishes, curating a warm and inviting ambiance, and welcoming guests to experience the flavors and atmosphere you’ve envisioned. To turn this dream into a successful reality, you need more than just a love for cooking—you need a well-crafted business plan. Need more guidance? Download our free small restaurant business plan template .

Crafting a comprehensive business plan is the crucial first step in your culinary journey. It will not only guide you through the intricacies of opening and running a small restaurant but also serve as a powerful tool to attract investors, secure loans, and set clear goals for your venture. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of writing a small restaurant business plan, from conducting market research to developing promotional strategies. 

Imagine driving your small restaurant towards success without a roadmap—difficult, right? A solid business plan acts as your GPS, steering you in the right direction and helping you navigate the challenges that lie ahead. It enables you to define your vision, set realistic goals, and make informed decisions along the way.

Additionally, a well-crafted business plan is essential for attracting investors and securing funding. Lenders and potential partners want to see that you have a clear understanding of your market, a viable financial plan, and a strategic approach to growing your small restaurant.

Free Download:  Sample Restaurant Business Plan Template

Just as a chef meticulously selects the finest ingredients for their dishes, conducting thorough market research is key to the success of your small restaurant. It involves understanding your target market, analyzing the competition, and identifying trends that will influence your restaurant’s positioning.

Define your target market

Consider factors such as age, income level, dining preferences, and local demographics. Determine what makes your restaurant unique and how it aligns with the desires and needs of your target customers.

Analyze your competition

Visit local restaurants, explore their menus, and study their online presence. Pay attention to their strengths and weaknesses, pricing strategies, and customer reviews. This knowledge will help you identify gaps in the market and opportunities to differentiate your small restaurant.

Consider specific aspects to look for in the market research for your small restaurant:

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  • Customer Preferences: Understand the dining preferences of your target market. Are they health-conscious, seeking exotic flavors, or interested in comfort food? Tailor your menu and ambiance accordingly to appeal to their preferences.
  • Location Analysis: Evaluate potential locations for your restaurant. Look for areas with high foot traffic, proximity to complementary businesses, and accessibility for customers. Consider factors such as parking availability and competition in the area.
  • Demographics: Examine the demographics of your target market. Are they primarily families, young professionals, or retirees? Understand their needs and preferences, and tailor your offerings and marketing strategies accordingly.
  • Competitor Analysis: Identify your direct and indirect competitors. Analyze their menus, pricing, target market, and overall customer experience. Determine how you can differentiate your restaurant and offer a unique value proposition.

Your small restaurant may serve the most mouthwatering dishes in town, but without effective promotional strategies, it’s like a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. 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, or partnering with complementary businesses in your community. Digital strategies should focus on creating an engaging website, building a strong presence on social media platforms, and utilizing online review platforms to build credibility and foster positive word-of-mouth.

When developing your promotional strategies, consider the following tips:

  • Create an Irresistible 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.
  • Implement Loyalty Programs: Encourage repeat business by implementing a loyalty program that rewards customers for their patronage. Offer incentives such as discounts, freebies, or exclusive promotions to keep them coming back.
  • Collaborate with Influencers: Partner with local food bloggers or social media influencers who align with your brand to promote your restaurant. Invite them for a complimentary dining experience and encourage them to share their thoughts and photos on their platforms.
  • Engage with the Local Community: Participate in community events, sponsor local sports teams or charity initiatives, and establish partnerships with neighboring businesses. By becoming an active member of your community, you’ll build brand awareness and loyalty.
  • Offer Special Events and Promotions: Organize themed nights, live music performances, or chef’s tasting menus to create a unique experience for your customers. Launch limited-time promotions, such as happy hour specials or seasonal menu offerings, to drive foot traffic during slower periods.

To run a successful small restaurant, you must master the delicate art of balancing culinary excellence with financial acumen. Start by estimating your startup costs, including equipment purchases, leasehold improvements, licenses, and initial inventory. Be sure to account for ongoing operating expenses such as rent, utilities, employee salaries, and 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.

In the culinary world, milestones and goals are as important as the perfect blend of flavors in a signature dish. Setting milestones and goals for your small restaurant allows you to track your progress, stay motivated, and celebrate achievements along the way.

Consider both short-term and long-term goals for your restaurant. These goals may include increasing monthly revenue, expanding your customer base, earning positive reviews, or even opening additional locations. Break each goal down into specific action steps and establish timelines for their accomplishment. Regularly evaluate your progress, make adjustments as needed, and celebrate the milestones you reach.

Once you’ve written your plan, you’ve taken the first step towards turning your culinary dreams into a thriving small restaurant! By crafting a well-rounded business plan, conducting thorough market research, developing effective promotional strategies, understanding your financials and setting meaningful goals, you’re on your way to success.

Remember, running a small restaurant requires dedication, creativity, and perseverance. Continually adapt to the evolving tastes and preferences of your customers, stay ahead of industry trends, and maintain your passion for creating exceptional dining experiences. With a well-crafted business plan as your guide, your small restaurant can become a culinary destination that delights and satisfies customers for years to come.

If you’re ready to start your own small restaurant business, 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.

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

Content Author: Makenna Crocker

Makenna Crocker is the Social Brand Manager at Palo Alto Software. Her work focuses on market and social trends, educational content creation, and providing entrepreneurs with small business tips and tools. 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 social media and sharable content.

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How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

By Silvia Valencia

making a restaurant business plan

A comprehensive business plan is the foundation of every successful restaurant. You need a business plan before you can begin to execute on anything having to do with opening your establishment. A proper business plan is a guide that will help take your idea from concept to reality.

When you begin to seek professional and financial support for your new business, your business plan will be the primary document of reference to describe your concept, market, and potential for profitability. You need a business plan for investors, lenders, consultants, partners, and other team members who will help make your dream of opening a restaurant come true.

In this article, we’ll walk you through every part of how to write a restaurant business plan, explain the function of each section, and provide an example you can use as a starting point.

Before Writing Your Business Plan: Questions to Answer

Before you start writing your business plan, you’ll want to consider a few key things. Knowing the answers to these questions will make writing your business plan and communicating your vision a hundred times easier. Keep the answers to these questions top of mind as you’re writing your business plan.

Who is your business plan for?

Are you approaching investors and lenders, or is your plan specifically for you and your staff? You’ll need to adapt your writing for different audience types, and perhaps place emphasis on certain sections over others depending on your primary audience.

Where will your restaurant be located?

If you don’t yet have a location for your restaurant , you should at least know which neighborhood your restaurant will be located in. Your restaurant’s location will determine important elements of your business plan, like your competitive analysis, ingredient availability, venue type, etc. If you’re in the early stages of planning, you likely don’t know your exact address, but nailing it as close as you can will guide you in your writing.

What is your venue type?

You should have a clear idea of what kind of restaurant you’re opening , whether it’s an intimate cafe, craft microbrewery, or gourmet food truck. If you aren’t quite sure, you’ll need to decide before you write your business plan. You should know exactly what your venue is going to be as you work through the details of a business plan.

What are your goals?

Do you want to start a food truck and then grow to open a sister restaurant, or do you want to open a full service restaurant and grow to operate a fleet of food trucks? Are you looking to open a burger place with a constant flow of customers? Or maybe you want to be the go-to place for special occasions. Be as specific as you can in your vision, and be clear on exactly what you want to achieve.

What are your credentials?

Have you worked in the restaurant industry before? How well do you know the market? Do you need any additional skills before you start your restaurant? If you’re confident you have the skills, feel free to start. But if you’ve never spent any time in a kitchen or in the foodservice industry, you may want to get some hands-on experience so you know what you’re getting into.

5 Tips on How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

Before you start writing your business plan, here are some tips to make the process easier.

  • Collect materials that are relevant, like links, articles, quotes and information that may benefit you as you are writing, and use them for inspiration or include them within the appropriate sections of your business plan.
  • Taking something from concept to creation can be challenging, but try to put everything you see in your imagination down in the most accurate words possible. Go through the business plan template the first time and make tons of notes for each section, then come back to it later and flesh out your ideas further.
  • If a section stumps you, make a note and move on, then revisit it later when you have more information or more clarity. Refine and rework. Be sure to add all new developments that are happening, and when you’re confident you’ve said all you can about a section, go back in and edit and re-word until you’re satisfied.
  • Use graphics and images to clarify your message when you feel it’s necessary. Consider creating Pinterest boards to keep you inspired and help you get visual. Then, when you are writing your business plan, go back to your boards to pull in graphics that get your idea across better than words.
  • Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, know that your business plan will take time. It can take anywhere from weeks to months to years to get a solid grasp on what it is you’re creating. As time passes and you continue to work on it, you’ll fine-tune your message and have a crystal clear plan on your hands.

Are you confident in your vision, clear on your goals, and comfortable with your skills? Ready to jump in?

Restaurant Business Plan Template

Table of contents.

Your restaurant business plan is going to be a long document. Depending on the nature of your restaurant, your business plan could be anywhere from 10 to 50 pages – so your readers will need to find sections easily. This is where a table of contents comes in. It’ll look something like this:

  • Executive Summary – p. 3
  • Business Overview – p. 5
  • Business Description – p. 7
  • The Marketplace – p. 12
  • Marketing – p. 20
  • Business Operations – p. 25
  • Financials – p. 30
  • Business Plan Summary p. 37

After you’re finished writing your restaurant business plan, make sure to review your table of contents so that your page numbers are accurate.

Executive Summary

While the Executive Summary may live at the beginning of your business plan, it’s the last thing you’ll write. The Executive Summary is a one-page summary of every section in your business plan, so that readers can get a general sense of your entire plan in one page. Remember to keep this section brief yet impactful.

Business Overview

Your Business Overview is simple: it’s a list of basic information about your business, such as your legal name, type of business, business number, etc. You may have some empty fields until you’re closer to actually opening. This list is for quick reference and especially important if you’ll be seeking bank loans or approaching investors:

  • Legal name of business
  • Trade name of business (doing business as)
  • Business address or potential business address
  • Current mailing address
  • Phone number
  • Social media handles
  • Structure of business
  • Date business was established
  • Nature of business
  • Banking details (branch and banker’s name)

Quick tip: many of the details in your business overview will be filled out as your business takes shape. fill in what you can as you go. if some of this information is unknown, don’t let it hold you up.

Business Description

Your Business Description is where your restaurant comes to life. Here is where you’ll describe, in detail, what your business is going to look like, where it will be, and the kind of vibe it will have. Your Business Description answers all of the questions that relate to your vision and goals. Be as expansive as you want here – go into as much detail as possible, and don’t be afraid to use visuals! Here’s what to include in your Business Description.

Will your business be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation? Who is involved and what is their role? This can be a short paragraph.

Your restaurant concept is your idea . Take the time to describe why your business is special, and talk about what you’ll do differently as compared to other restaurants. Why should people choose your restaurant over another? What kind of experience will you be providing customers?

Mission statement

Your mission statement is one sentence that describes what your restaurant will achieve. Think of your end goal, the ultimate driving force behind your business. Your mission statement should be something that can be displayed on marketing materials, and it should express to people what your business is all about.

Short-term and long-term goals

Here you’ll want to mention any relevant personal goals, then list your short-term and long-term objectives. Think about where you’re going and what you hope to be doing in a couple of years. Your short-term goals describe your first year as a restaurant owner. Long-term goals are larger, like how you plan to scale your business and how you hope to grow. Be descriptive in this section, but also remember to remain realistic and within the scope of your projections in the financial section.

Menu and services

Include a sample menu, or menus, and discuss the details of each, such as times of day offered and the inspiration or rationale for each. If you’re going to offer catering, delivery, or any other services, mention those here. Describe anything else you’ll be selling, such as pre-packaged foods, canned or bottled drinks, or retail items such as t-shirts and hats.

You likely won’t have secured a location or negotiated a lease at this point, so instead mention the neighborhoods you’re considering for your venue. Answer the following questions here: Which features of the neighborhood will affect your business? What other businesses are located in the area? What kinds of people live, work, or visit the neighborhood? Consider and document all effects that the location will have on your business, like access to parking, public transportation, walk score, etc.

Take the time to describe your concept with as much visual detail as you can. Express why these details are important (hint: they should relate back to your branding). If you’re working with a design agency or interior design specialist, mention them and show their proposals or mockups. Business description summary inally, briefly sum up everything in this section. Your Business Description tends to be a long section, so you’ll need a summary that provides an overview of what you’re going to achieve with your business.

The Marketplace

This section is where you’ll describe the current status of the marketplace for your business. The most important thing to remember about this section is that you’ll need to remain honest and authentic. You won’t do yourself or anyone else any favors by painting an unrealistic picture of the marketplace and how your business fits within it. This section requires a lot of research and critical thinking skills.

Visit your direct competition and gain some intel on their customer experience and menu. Ask people in your prospective neighborhood about how businesses perform in the area. By gathering as much information as you can, your marketplace assessment will be clear and rooted in reality.

Market segment

This section should provide a quick overview of the size of your customer base. What are the demographics, psychographics, and segments of your target market?

You need to know your target customers. Who will frequent your restaurant and what characteristics do they share? List statistics you’ve gathered about your market and any other relevant information about your potential customers. Make a note of any customer segments within your target demographic that have certain needs over others.

You’ll want quantitative and qualitative research to round out this section. Make sure to talk to people within your target market to gain a clear understanding of their needs and how you can serve them. You’ll also discover other valuable insights through these discussions.

Market trends

Here you’ll want to list relevant statistics about past and current trends within your marketplace. Include anything that relates to the demand for your business, social or economic factors, and trends that have affected similar businesses. If you’ve done research or hired a firm to conduct some for you, mention all the outcomes from that research here.


So you know other restaurants are your competition, but you’ll need to be specific. Analyze your prospective neighborhood, and make a list of all your competitors from small to large. Use a critical eye to determine how they differ from your establishment. Categorize your competitors into “direct” and “indirect”. Your direct competitors are those restaurants that are offering similar customer experiences and type of cuisine, while indirect competitors may be different from your restaurant but still compete for your target market’s attention and spend.

Now that you’ve analyzed the competition, you should be able to spot how you’ll be able to stand out. What will your restaurant do that no one else is doing? What are your differentiators that will cause the market to take notice of your business?


After you determine your differentiators, you’ll know how your restaurant can fill potential gaps in the marketplace or provide a better option for customers. From the menu to the hours, whatever your restaurant can do better, list it here.

Now, the other side of the coin: what your restaurant may not be able to do better than the competition. Take the time to list these as challenges, provide rationale as to why your restaurant will face these barriers, and how you’ll tackle them once you’re open. Don’t be afraid of honesty here; a candid account of the challenges you’ll face will show readers you’re self-aware and ready to overcome problems with practical solutions.

Marketplace summary

Briefly sum up everything that you’ve talked about in this section, reiterating the demographics of your target market, advantages, and opportunities.

You may be an amazing chef and create exceptional dishes, but without customers and sales, you don’t have much of a business. You need a marketing strategy to get people in the door and coming back. In this section on how to write a restaurant business plan, we’ll get into your strategy: how you’re going to price your meals, how you’ll position yourself to appeal to your target customers, and how you’ll promote your business to let customers know you exist.


Describe how you’ll appeal to your target customers and where you will place yourself in the customer’s mind. Use your differentiators in the previous section to guide your positioning strategy. How will you communicate your differentiators to your market? What will you be offering the market that your customers wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else?

Describe your pricing and how it compares to similar businesses. Provide ballpark figures for different menu items and list standard pricing for your type of business. List your competitors’ prices and explain why yours will be higher or lower. Make sure to align this section with your financials so that your food and labor ratios are taken into account when crafting this section.

Online promotion

If you plan on creating and maintaining social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, explain how you’ll use them to promote your business. Describe your website’s main elements, design style, and who will build it. List all paid digital promotion here such as Google ads, paid social media ads, and any agencies you’ll work with to develop and execute on all digital marketing initiatives.

Traditional promotion

Will you be holding any events, releasing a press release, or taking out any print ads?

Marketing summary

Briefly summarize your overall marketing strategy and what you’ll concentrate on the most: digital, traditional, PR, etc. Let readers know why you think your marketing strategy will work for your type of restaurant.

Business Operations

You’ve described your vision, the market, and how you plan to promote your business. But how will you actually execute your plans? Who will operate your business day-to-day? Here’s where you get into the nitty-gritty details of your business operations.

Introduce everyone on your payroll. List their qualifications, special skills, and job description, with an emphasis on how they will help you reach your goals and the tasks they will do every day. Categorize each staff member into other owners, chefs, managers, servers, bartenders, etc.

Supplier relationships

List your suppliers by type: food, payment, alcohol, cleaning, etc. Note how each supplier serves your restaurant’s needs , and list their credit and payment terms. List all suppliers for the following:

  • Waste removal
  • Restaurant supplies like dishware and glass
  • Paper products
  • Payroll service
  • Cleaning services
  • Plants or landscaping
  • Linen service
  • Entertainment
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Technology, such as POS hardware and software, mobile delivery apps, loyalty apps, and an internet provider

Your restaurant will need insurance coverage . Do some research to determine mandatory insurance and special coverage, and start to compare costs between insurance providers. List each type of insurance your restaurant will need and what it covers.

What kind of licensing does your restaurant need? List all of the licenses and permits required for your restaurant and staff here. Check your local government office website for the details and anything else that you are required to obtain in your area.

Business operations summary

Briefly sum up everything that you’ve talked about in the Business Operations section.

You’ve now arrived at the most important – and the most daunting – part of your restaurant business plan. This is where you prove that your idea is actually a business that can turn a profit. Complete a financial forecast that takes your concept and translates it into numbers. This exercise is the most important part of your business plan, as investors and lenders will be scrutinizing these numbers before they read anything else.

The Breakdown

Your forecast will be broken into four main parts:

  • Revenue: Forecasted sales
  • Controllable costs: Food and beverage costs as well as cost of labor
  • Expenses: Marketing, rent, supplies, utilities, etc.
  • Start-Up Costs: What it costs to get you to open, as well as things like capital improvements and training.

We’ve created a downloadable sample forecast that demonstrates what you’ll need to do. Our example is Joe’s Burgers, a small 1,000 square foot quick service restaurant with no alcoholic beverage sales. Once you understand the sample forecast, we’ve included a blank forecast sheet where you can add in your own numbers to project how profitable you’ll be. Notes about the forecast spreadsheet

  • Take the blank forecast and “save as” so that if you make a mistake, you can return to the original spreadsheet and start again.
  • There are formulas pre-programmed in the cells of the spreadsheet.
  • If you are planning to open a restaurant that will serve alcoholic beverages, you will have to figure out your sales mix of the various beverages: bottled beer, draft beer, liquor, and wine, and the costs associated with each. For example, if your bottled beer cost is 28% and wine cost is 40%, you’ll have an average beverage cost of 34% to add to your forecast.
  • If you are going to offer catering or other services, you can create another revenue stream that covers events executed, average spends, revenues, cost of goods sold and labor costs for that source.

Business Plan Summary

Your Business Plan Summary should tie the whole message together. Use this section to highlight how you’re different and what you’re offering, reiterating the most important points about your restaurant.

Sections to include are:

  • Why you will succeed: in a few short sentences, repeat how you are different and why your business will work.
  • What you need: if you’re asking for money, repeat the ask here.
  • A thank you: a quick thanks at the end reminds people that you value their time and input.

Headshot of Silvia Valencia.

Silvia is the former Digital Marketing Manager for TouchBistro. During her time with TouchBistro, she managed and coordinated content for the RestoHub blog.

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