A restaurant business plan can help you put the “business” in your restaurant. After all, restaurants aren’t just about offering hospitality, serving your favorite recipes or creating a cozy ambiance. They need to generate revenue to support you and your employees. With a business plan serving as your blueprint, you can stay focused on meeting your goals and running a lasting enterprise.
In this guide to creating and using your restaurant business plan, you’ll learn:
- What a restaurant business plan is
- Why it’s important to have a business plan for your restaurant
- How to write a restaurant business plan
- And get access to our restaurant business plan template
What is a restaurant business plan?
A restaurant business plan is a document that explains the who, what, where, when, why and how of your restaurant. It serves as a source of truth for your vision for the business, and can help you stay accountable to your goals and stakeholders. A typical business plan includes sections on your restaurant’s concept and team, the competition, your marketing plan, financial projections, an executive summary and more.
Why is it important to have a restaurant business plan?
Writing a business plan is a critical step on the road to becoming a restaurant owner. This document helps keep everyone involved in starting and managing the business aligned on goals and means. A business plan gives you direction and holds you accountable as you make decisions.
It’s also a helpful tool to share with potential investors. A business plan shows that you’re serious about the business, have done your research on the competition and target market and understand the risks and key financial and regulatory aspects of running a business.
How to write a restaurant business plan
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of exactly what you should include in the business plan for your restaurant.
The executive summary serves as both an introduction to the business plan and a summary of everything else found in the document. Write it as a high-level overview of your plan, and write it last so you can pull from other sections.
Start with the basics of your business, including the restaurant’s name, its mission and values, your concept and a sample menu.
If you need help conjuring a business mission and values, consider your restaurant’s purpose. Why does it exist? What does your business stand for?
When describing the concept, you can be straightforward (e.g., a fast-casual Vietnamese restaurant), but you can also add color by including your inspiration for the business. For example, you could share that you want your restaurant to be the Chipotle of Vietnamese food to help make the cuisine more accessible and widespread.
Include a sample menu that you and potential investors can reference as you finalize the dishes you’ll serve.
Explain who will be in charge of running your restaurant or bar. Will it be you, or will you hire a CEO or general manager?
Describe which roles you will need to hire for and when you plan on doing that. Include an organizational chart for future reference. And, since the restaurant industry is notorious for high employee turnover, it’s important to explain what you plan to do to retain hospitality staff.
List any kinds of external consultants you plan to engage, like an accountant or marketing agency.
The financial analysis section of your restaurant business plan is one of its most important. Writing one is a useful exercise that helps you plan and understand where the funds to start your business are coming from, and how you will spend that money and your revenue.
Include insights about your funding sources. Where will the money to support your startup costs – and keep it running until it’s profitable – come from? Personal savings, friends and family, investors? How much money will you need to start the business?
Additionally, work out your operational budget. List how much you plan to spend on payroll, technology, furniture and decor, equipment, inventory and marketing.
Next, include details about your business model and revenue streams. Most restaurants will start with on-premises dining, then may add additional revenue streams via online ordering, catering and selling merchandise.
Finally, include financial projections. How long do you anticipate it will take to become profitable? How much revenue do you think you’ll make in your first year of business?
In this section, explain where you will go for legal counsel and which licenses and permits you will obtain.
Create a plan for keeping up with labor regulations, such as fair labor practices, overtime and wage requirements.
Designate a member of your team, like the general manager, to keep licenses up to date and ensure you’re complying with local regulations and are ready for health inspections.
Marketing analysis & plan
This part of your restaurant business plan should include the following sections:
- Marketing analysis: Explain the market in which your restaurant will operate and where you may want to expand the business. Share any special considerations associated with this location.
- Target market: What kinds of customers do you want your restaurant to appeal to? What are their demographics? What are their likes and dislikes? How often do they dine out?
- Competitive analysis: Do research on similar restaurants in your area. How will your business compare? What gives you a competitive advantage?
- SWOT analysis: List any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business. Doing this exercise will help you prepare for obstacles and can influence your marketing plan.
- Price analysis: Explain your pricing plan. Beyond considering your cost of goods sold and profit margin, think about what the competition is charging and how pricing impacts perceived value.
- Restaurant marketing plan: Include your strategy for branding, marketing and advertising. Will you have a digital presence? How will customers find you?
Tech is a critical part of running an efficient, modern restaurant. Decide which restaurant technology you’ll need to run your business. As you research tech vendors, make sure the solutions you choose can grow with your restaurant.
Consider the following types of tools:
Create a timeline to mark milestones for the days leading up to your restaurant’s opening, and what you hope to accomplish in the years after opening day. Take inspiration for milestones from these examples:
- Before opening: Find a location, source investors, find vendors, sign lease, build restaurant, hire and train employees
- Opening day: Grand opening celebration and media coverage
- 1, 2, 3, 6 months after opening day: Implement new revenue streams and technologies, streamline operations, launch marketing campaigns
- 1 year in business: Create a loyalty program, one-year celebration
- 5 years in business: Expand, open a ghost kitchen
Restaurant business plan template
Take a screenshot, copy and paste or print this restaurant business plan sample to kickstart the writing process.
(Summarize the rest of your restaurant business plan)
Proposed restaurant name:
Mission and values:
How will you fund the business?
How much money do you need to start the business?
What will your operational expenses be?
When will the business start making a profit?
Which licenses and permits will you need to obtain?
Market analysis & marketing plan
Where will the restaurant be located?
Which tools and vendors will you be using?
Online ordering: SevenRooms
Leading up to opening day
6 months from opening:
1 year from opening:
5 years from opening:
Need more inspiration? Check out these restaurant business plan samples for more ideas.
Stay focused with a restaurant business plan
Creating a restaurant business plan can help you stay focused on your goals and prove to external stakeholders and potential investors that you’re serious about the business. While the specifics of your restaurant will change between its grand opening and several years in operation, a business plan can keep you accountable to your original goals and vision. Use our restaurant business plan template to start jotting down your ideas.
SevenRooms can help you achieve your business goals by equipping you with the technology you need to run a successful restaurant. Request a demo today.
FAQs about restaurant business plans
1. What is a business plan for a restaurant?
A restaurant business plan is the blueprint that outlines your vision, and explains in detail how the new business will take shape and operate once its doors are open.
2. Is it profitable to open a restaurant?
Restaurants are profitable, but have lower profit margins compared to other industries, which should be factored into your restaurant business plan.