restaurant grand opening staff with sign

Ok. You’ve got a great idea for a restaurant that you just know is a winner. All of the details are worked out in your mind after having been honed in and refined over so many late night, beer-fueled conversations that you’ve lost count. Now it’s time to get outside investors and other people on board with your idea, too. That means it’s time for you to create your very own small restaurant business plan.

Sound daunting? It’s a big step, no mistake about it, but it’s one that’s absolutely doable. With the right advice and a few restaurant business plan examples, next thing you know you’d be in the throes of writing a restaurant business plan like a pro. Want to know how?

Read on for everything you need to know about crafting a restaurant business plan.


Why Restaurant Business Plans Matter

If you’re thinking to yourself, “I can probably just skip the hassle and wing it whenever I need to talk about my restaurant idea. Seems like a lot of work,” you should stop right there. Yes, it’s a bit of effort, but no one in their right mind will invest in or hop onboard a restaurant that doesn’t have a solid plan for how it’s going to succeed in the industry—i.e., how it’s going to make money.

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

As Open for Business explains, “no matter how much thought you’ve put into your concept or how many trusted colleagues have assures 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: ‘Why does the world need this restaurant?’”. Restaurant business plans outline the progression and development of your restaurant from concept to several years down the road. Not only does it make your plans clear to potential partners, it gives you a roadmap to work from once things get started.

How to Make the Best Restaurant Business Plan: What to Include

Before you begin your own journey into the wild world of creating a restaurant business plan doc, the best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with what the final product should look like. Dedicate as much time as you can to reading through some samples of restaurant business plans. Not only will that give you a good idea of what it is you’re aiming for, it will show you the different elements that different restaurants include and the language that use to talk about themselves and their future plans. Hey, copying is the most sincere form of flattery, right?

restaurant owner using an iPad

After you have taken a look at examples like this restaurant business plan pdf from Cayenne Consulting, it’s time to start the process yourself. As you pick up your pen, remember to include the following topics in your plan:

1. The Overall Concept

This is the part where you get to talk about how great your idea is and why. This is your chance to get your readers, from potential partners and opening staff to investors, excited about your idea—so excited in fact that they want to get on board and help you out, whether that’s a commitment to helping you open or startup funding.

This section is where you’ll also want to get into the type of service you’ll be offering. 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! 

waitress tying on her apron

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Restaurant interior design is another key consideration here as well. If you’ve got 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 writing heavy, so rely on images anywhere that you can.

restaurant owner turning open sign

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 in general and to its brand, you should put substantial effort into this part of the 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. 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. 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 plan.

restaurant owners chatting

4. Target Customers

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.

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.

Barista Cafe Coffee Shop Owner Service Concept

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 if you haven’t already. 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 statement for the first few years.

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Cinnamon is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and journalist who paid a large part of her way through college and graduate school by serving. Her work has been published with outlets like National Geographic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, and more. You can read more about her at