Restaurant Business Plan

Do you have a great idea for a restaurant that you just know is a winner? After deciding to make the leap into restaurant ownership, you’ll need to get investors, landlords, banks, and many others on board to bring it to life. This means it’s time for you to create your very own restaurant business plan.

Creating a restaurant business plan is a big step and can seem daunting, but with the right advice and a few restaurant business plan examples, you can create your own.

Why Do I Need to Have a Restaurant Business Plan?

Restaurant business plans outline the progression and development of your restaurant from concept to multi-year strategy. Not only does it make your plans clear to potential partners, but it also gives you a roadmap to follow once things get started.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Seems like a lot of work. I can probably just skip the hassle and wing it whenever I need to talk about my restaurant idea,” you should stop right there. No one will invest in a restaurant that doesn’t have a solid plan for how it’s going to succeed and make money.

A graphic showing the 6 steps to writing the best restaurant business plan

What to Include in a Restaurant Business Plan

Before you begin your own journey into creating a restaurant business plan, familiarize yourself with what the final product should look like. Each restaurant business plan will look a little different, but below is the must-have information for every plan. 

1. The Overall Concept

This is your chance to get your readers, from potential partners and opening staff to investors, excited about your restaurant business plan—so excited that they want to get on board and help you out, whether that’s a commitment to lending a helping hand or offering startup funding.

This is where you should also explain the type of service you plan to offer. Will it be fine dining or casual? Will there be wine pairings or is it a pay-at-the-bar kind of place? The type of service you offer has a serious impact on the overall concept. This might also be where you flesh out your restaurant mission statement.

Restaurant interior design is another key consideration here as well. If you have thoughts on what your space will look like, or the design elements you plan to deploy, don’t be afraid to include visuals. Business plans are text-heavy, so break things up with relevant images anywhere that you can.

2. Sample Menu

The next thing you will need to include is a sample menu. Be sure to highlight both your food and drink options. Because the menu is central to your restaurant and your brand, you should put substantial effort into this part of the restaurant business plan. Don’t just list everything out—get as close to a full-fledged menu as you can. Include enticing descriptions and use a smartly designed format. This is a place to splurge on the help of a design professional if necessary.

3. The Team

From servers to management and partners, you’ll want to include an outline of exactly how many people, and what positions you will need to make your restaurant run on day one. Be sure to pay particular attention to the composition and structure of your management team. These are the key people that can make or break your success. For example, will you be using consultants or affiliate programs? Partners and investors will want to see that you’ve thoroughly thought through how your restaurant will be run and the people who will carry out your business plan.

4. Target Customers

An essential question to ask while creating your restaurant business plan is, who are the people that are going to eat at your restaurant? Do a thorough analysis and include all of the demographic information you can, everything from age and income to their values and what they expect from the restaurants they already frequent. If you already have a location picked out, or know what neighborhood(s) you are interested in, include the demographic information for that area to show how it aligns with your target audience.

5. Market Analysis

Think about this section as answering the “why” component of the previous question about your target customers. Once you’ve identified who they will be, outline why they will be choosing your restaurant over anyone else’s. What void are you filling in the market? Do you offer conveniences that other local restaurants don’t? Will you cater to the tourist crowd in a unique way? Highlight what sets you apart in your restaurant business plan.

Ready to take the next step? Download our free How to Start a Restaurant Guide.

6. Financials

Like the design of your sample menu, your financials are another place where you will likely want to solicit the help of a professional accountant. Setting up a budget will help you anticipate all the costs of opening a restaurant – there are always more than you expect! If you’re asking people for money, they’re going to want to know exactly where, how, and why that money is being spent. An accountant with restaurant industry experience will be able to give you everything you need to show investors, which is essentially a break-even analysis, a capital requirements budget, and a profit and loss (P&L) statement for the first few years.

Restaurant Business Plan Samples

Have a look through these restaurant business plan samples and see which style most aligns with your type of restaurant. Once you find a sample or two that you like, start to craft yours using a similar structure, layout, and language. Before you know it, you’ll have your very own restaurant business plan ready to go.

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and staring at a blank Word doc, there are also online programs that can help. For a monthly fee, programs like LivePlan simplify the creation of a restaurant business plan by guiding you step-by-step through each section and prompting you with questions and examples.

Example of a Bar or Casual Restaurant Business Plan

Fast Business Plans, like the name suggests, is another resource for quickly whipping up the business plan you need. They have a specific focus on bar and restaurant business plans that really get into the nitty-gritty of how the restaurant will function and be successful. Bplans.com also offers business plans for sports bars specifically.

Guests having breakfast at hotel restaurant

Example of a Fast Food Restaurant Business Plan 

While the premise of a fast food restaurant might seem obvious, even fast food restaurant owners need a business plan to justify their ideas. MoreBusiness.com is an excellent resource for examples of fast food restaurant business plans, covering everything from products and services to facilities and locations, and much in between.

Example of a BBQ Restaurant Business Plan

Profitable Venture has a great example of a barbecue business plan. They do a particularly thorough job of detailing each role they plan to hire for and how that role contributes to the restaurant, plus a forward-thinking expansion plan to show that they are in this for the long haul.

Example of a Breakfast Restaurant Business Plan

Since the University of Nevada, Las Vegas published SunShine Cafe: A Breakfast Restaurant Business Plan in 2011, it has been an integral resource for those looking to craft a breakfast restaurant business plan of their very own. Not only does the paper detail the workings of a restaurant business plan, it also offers compelling evidence about why they’re so important in the first place.

“As many as 800,000 new businesses are started in the United States every year,” the paper explains, “and it is estimated that 50% of those fail with some estimating that 90% of restaurants fail. Some of the main reasons that businesses fail are poor planning and lack of start-up capital. Research has shown that business plans can help reduce this risk by both doing the planning and helping a small business gain capital.” Adding something like this into your own restaurant business plan will show investors that you are serious about running a successful and profitable business and plan to learn from others’ mistakes.

Thinking about opening a new restaurant? Congratulations!

Download our How to Start a Restaurant Guide to learn everything you need to get up and running, from writing your business plan to training your staff for success.

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Written by   |  
Stephanie is a Providence, RI native and eight-year food industry veteran. As Upserve's Content Marketing Coordinator she creates materials that help restaurateurs, managers, and service professionals succeed. When she's not writing, Stephanie is most likely traveling, cooking, or trying new restaurants.