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How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

Sally Lauckner

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When starting a business—no matter what type of business that may be—a business plan is essential to map out your intentions and direction. That’s the same for a restaurant business plan, which will help you figure out where you fit in the landscape, how you’re going to differ from other establishments around you, how you’ll market your business, and even what you’re going to serve. A business plan for your restaurant can also help you later if you choose to apply for a business loan .

While opening a restaurant isn’t as risky as you’ve likely heard, you still want to ensure that you’re putting thought and research into your business venture to set it up for success. And that’s where a restaurant business plan comes in.

We’ll go through how to create a business plan for a restaurant and a few reasons why it’s so important. After you review the categories and the restaurant business plan examples, you can use the categories to make a restaurant business plan template and start your journey.

Why you shouldn’t skip a restaurant business plan

First-time restaurateurs and industry veterans alike all need to create a business plan when opening a new restaurant . That’s because, even if you deeply understand your business and its nuances (say, seasonal menu planning or how to order correct quantities), a restaurant is more than its operations. There’s marketing, financing, the competitive landscape, and more—and each of these things is unique to each door you open.

That’s why it’s so crucial to understand how to create a business plan for a restaurant. All of these things and more will be addressed in the document—which should run about 20 or 30 pages—so you’ll not only have a go-to-market strategy, but you’ll also likely figure out some things about your business that you haven’t even thought of yet.

Additionally, if you’re planning to apply for business funding down the line, some loans—including the highly desirable SBA loan —actually require you to submit your business plan to gain approval. In other words: Don’t skip this step!

How to write a restaurant business plan: Step by step

There’s no absolute format for a restaurant business plan that you can’t stray from—some of these sections might be more important than others, for example, or you might find that there’s a logical order that makes more sense than the one in the restaurant business plan example below. However, this business plan outline will serve as a good foundation, and you can use it as a restaurant business plan template for when you write your own.

Executive summary

Your executive summary is one to two pages that kick off your business plan and explain your vision. Even though this might seem like an introduction that no one will read, that isn’t the case. In fact, some investors only ask for the executive summary. So, you’ll want to spend a lot of time perfecting it.

Your restaurant business plan executive summary should include information on:

Mission statement: Your goals and objectives

General company information: Include your founding date, team roles (i.e. executive chef, sous chefs, sommeliers), and locations

Category and offerings: What category your restaurant fits into, what you’re planning to serve (i.e. farm-to-table or Korean), and why

Context for success: Any past success you’ve had, or any current financial data that’ll support that you are on the path to success

Financial requests: If you’re searching for investment or financing, include your plans and goals here and any financing you’ve raised or borrowed thus far

Future plans: Your vision for where you’re going in the next year, three years, and five years

When you’re done with your executive summary, you should feel like you’ve provided a bird’s eye view of your entire business plan. In fact, even though this section is first, you will likely write it last so you can take the highlights from each of the subsequent sections.

And once you’re done, read it on its own: Does it give a comprehensive, high-level overview of your restaurant, its current state, and your vision for the future? Remember, this may be the only part of your business plan potential investors or partners will read, so it should be able to stand on its own and be interesting enough to make them want to read the rest of your plan.

Company overview

This is where you’ll dive into the specifics of your company, detailing the kind of restaurant you’re looking to create, who’s helping you do it, and how you’re prepared to accomplish it.

Your restaurant business plan company overview should include:

Purpose: The type of restaurant you’re opening (fine dining, fast-casual, pop-up, etc.), type of food you’re serving, goals you have, and the niche you hope to fill in the market

Area: Information on the area in which you’re opening

Customers: Whom you’re hoping to target, their demographic information

Legal structure: Your business entity (i.e. LLC, LLP, etc.) and how many owners you have

Similar to your executive summary, you won’t be going into major detail here as the sections below will get into the nitty-gritty. You’ll want to look at this as an extended tear sheet that gives someone a good grip on your restaurant or concept, where it fits into the market, and why you’re starting it.

Team and management

Barely anything is as important for a restaurant as the team that runs it. You’ll want to create a section dedicated to the members of your staff—even the ones that aren’t yet hired. This will provide a sense of who is taking care of what, and how you need to structure and build out the team to get your restaurant operating at full steam.

Your restaurant business plan team and management section should have:

Management overview: Who is running the restaurant, what their experience and qualifications are, and what duties they’ll be responsible for

Staff: Other employees you’ve brought on and their bios, as well as other spots you anticipate needing to hire for

Ownership percentage: Which individuals own what percentage of the restaurant, or if you are an employee-owned establishment

Be sure to update this section with more information as your business changes and you continue to share this business plan—especially because who is on your team will change both your business and the way people look at it.

Sample menu

You’ll also want to include a sample menu in your restaurant business plan so readers have a sense of what they can expect from your operations, as well as what your diners can expect from you when they sit down. This will also force you to consider exactly what you want to serve your diners and how your menu will stand out from similar restaurants in the area. Although a sample menu is in some ways self-explanatory, consider the following:

Service : If your brunch is as important as your dinner, provide both menus; you also might want to consider including both a-la-carte and prix fixe menus if you plan to offer them.

Beverage/wine service: If you’ll have an emphasis on specialty beverages or wine, a separate drinks list could be important.

Seasonality: If you’re a highly seasonal restaurant, you might want to consider providing menus for multiple seasons to demonstrate how your dishes (and subsequent purchasing) will change.

Market analysis

This is where you’ll begin to dive deeper. Although you’ve likely mentioned your market and the whitespace you hope to address, the market analysis section will enable you to prove your hypotheses.

Your restaurant business plan market analysis should include:

Industry information: Include a description of the restaurant industry, its size, growth trends, and other trends regarding things such as tastes, trends, demographics, structures, etc.

Target market: Zoom in on the area and neighborhood in which you’re opening your restaurant as well as the type of cuisine you’re serving.

Target market characteristics: Describe your customers and their needs, how/if their needs are currently being served, other important pieces about your specific location and customers.

Target market size and growth: Include a data-driven section on the size of your market, trends in its growth, how your target market fits into the industry as a whole, projected growth of your market, etc.

Market share potential: Share how much potential there is in the market, how much your presence will change the market, and how much your specific restaurant or restaurant locations can own of the open market; also touch on any barriers to growth or entry you might see.

Market pricing: Explain how you’ll be pricing your menu and where you’ll fall relative to your competitors or other restaurants in the market.

Competitive research: Include research on your closest competitors, how they are both succeeding and failing, how customers view them, etc.

If this section seems like it might be long, it should—it’s going to outline one of the most important parts of your strategy, and should feel comprehensive. Lack of demand is the number one reason why new businesses fail, so the goal of this section should be to prove that there is demand for your restaurant and show how you’ll capitalize on it.

Additionally, if market research isn’t your forte, don’t be shy to reach out to market research experts to help you compile the data, or at least read deeply on how to conduct effective research.

Marketing and sales

Your marketing and sales section should feel like a logical extension of your market analysis section, since all of the decisions you’ll make in this section should follow the data of the prior section.

The marketing and sales sections of your restaurant business plan should include:

Positioning: How you’ll describe your restaurant to potential customers, the brand identity and visuals you’ll use to do it, and how you’ll stand out in the market based on the brand you’re building

Promotion: The tools, tactics, and platforms you’ll use to market your business

Sales: How you’ll convert on certain items, and who/how you will facilitate any additional revenue streams (i.e. catering)

It’s likely that you’ll only have concepts for some of these elements, especially if you’re not yet open. Still, get to paper all of the ideas you have, and you can (and should) always update them later as your restaurant business becomes more fully formed.

Business operations

The business operations section should get to the heart of how you plan to run your business. It will highlight both internal factors as well as external forces that will dictate how you run the ship.

The business operations section should include:

Management team: Your management structure and hierarchy, and who is responsible for what

Hours: Your hours and days of operation

Location: What’s special about your location that will get people through the door

Relationships: Any advantageous relationships you have with fellow restaurateurs, places for sourcing and buying, business organizations, or consultants on your team

Add here anything you think could be helpful for illustrating how you’re going to do business and what will affect it.

Here, you’ll detail the current state of your business finances and project where you hope to be in a year, three years, and five years. You’ll want to detail what you’ve spent, what you will spend, where you’ll get the money, costs you might incur, and returns you’ll hope to see—including when you can expect to break even and turn a profit.

Financial statements: If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, include existing financial statements (i.e. profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow, etc.)

Budget: Your current budget or a general startup budget

Projections: Include revenue, cash flow, projected profit and loss, and other costs

Debt: Include liabilities if the business has any outstanding debt or loans

Funding request: If you’re requesting a loan or an investment, lay out how much capital you’re looking for, your company’s valuation (if applicable), and the purpose of the funding

Above all, as you’re putting your financials together, be realistic—even conservative. You want to give any potential investors a realistic picture of your business.

Feel like there are other important components but they don't quite fit in any of the other categories (or make them run too long)? That’s what the restaurant business plan appendix section is for. And although in, say, a book, an appendix can feel like an afterthought, don’t ignore it—this is another opportunity for you to include crucial information that can give anyone reading your plan some context. You may include additional data, graphs, marketing collateral (like logo mockups), and more.

The bottom line

Whether you’re writing a restaurant business plan for investors, lenders, or simply for yourself and your team, the most important thing to do is make sure your document is comprehensive. A good business plan for a restaurant will take time—and maybe a little sweat—to complete fully and correctly.

One other crucial thing to remember: a business plan is not a document set in stone. You should often look to it to make sure you’re keeping your vision and mission on track, but you should also feel prepared to update its components as you learn more about your business and individual restaurant.

This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

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Fine Dining Restaurant Business Plan

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Gabri's Restaurant & Lounge

Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">, opportunity.

The rapidly expanding borough of Long Branch, New Jersey ‘on the shore’ is in need of a warm and friendly place with excellent food. A place where you always know you will get the best of everything. 

More opportunity than problem, actually … unless it’s dinnertime and you’re in Long Branch. 

Gabri’s Lounge & Restaurant will feature a cozy dining room and an elegant lounge. Comfortable furnishings and decor with soothing warm tones. The lounge has comfy couches and antique love seats with a softly lit bar. It will be the perfect place to stop in for a bite to eat, for a drink or for a small business meeting. For extra comfort and to please a large group of people we will make up special hors d’ oeuvre platters for customers.

The outlook for the future of Long Branch is promising. Developers are recreating a $150 million first-class resort project. The old pier will be rebuilt with ferry service to Manhattan, New York City, beach cabanas, boardwalk and a bike path over a total of 25 acres. There will be 100,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, and over 700 residential units with condo and townhouses ranging from $200,000-$500,000; rentals from $1000-$2,500 a month, and a two-tier garage. The combination of these elements will provide the city with a year-round economy.

Competition

Our biggest competition is the town next to Long Branch, called Red Bank which has a large selection of restaurants. Currently, many people who live in Long Branch drive seven miles to Red Bank to dine out. With the redevelopment in Long Branch and with Gabri’s Lounge & Restaurant, we will convince these people to stay in Long Branch and eat at our restaurant.

Gabri’s is a great place to eat, combining an intriguing atmosphere with excellent, interesting food. The mission is not only to have great tasting food, but have efficient and friendly service because customer satisfaction is paramount. We want to be the restaurant choice for all families and singles, young and old, male or female. Employee welfare will be equally important to our success. Everyone will be treated fairly and with the utmost respect. We want our employees to feel a part of the success of Gabri’s Lounge and Restaurant. Happy employees make happy guests.

We will combine menu variety, atmosphere, ambiance, special theme nights and a friendly staff to create a sense of ‘place’ in order to reach our goal of over all value in the dining/entertainment experience. We want fair profits for the owners, and a rewarding place to work for the employees.

Expectations

The most important assumption in the Projected Profit and Loss statement is the gross margin, higher than industry averages. We are also planning to spend more on payroll than the industry average.

We do see moderate growth over the first three years, because restaurants depend on word of mouth and we’ll be able to meet capacity requirements to grow as shown here. 

Financial Highlights by Year

Financing needed.

$465,000 of funding is needed to finance $300K startup expense (in detail in company section) plus $85K of startup cash reserve and $80K non-cash assets at launch. We plan to put in $225K owner investment and land a $240K long-term SBA loan. 

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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: Complete Guide

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  • January 31, 2023
  • Food & Beverage

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Whether you’re looking to raise funding from private investors or to get a loan from a bank (like a SBA loan) to open a restaurant , you will need to prepare a solid business plan.

In this article we go through, step-by-step, all the different sections you need in the business plan of your restaurant. Use this template to create a complete, clear and solid business plan that get you funded. Let’s dive in!

1. Restaurant Executive Summary

The executive summary of a business plan gives a sneak peek of the information about your business plan to lenders and/or investors.

If the information you provide here is not concise, informative, and scannable, potential lenders and investors will lose interest.

Though the executive summary is the first and the most important section, it should normally be the last section you write because it will have the summary of different sections included in the entire plan.

Why do you need a business plan for a restaurant?

The purpose of a business plan is to secure funding through one of the following channels:

  • Obtain bank financing or secure a loan from other lenders (such as a SBA loan )
  • Obtain private investments from investment funds, angel investors, etc.
  • Obtain a public or a private grant

How to write your restaurant’s executive summary?

Provide a precise and high-level summary of every section that you have included in your business plan. The information and the data you include in this segment should grab the attention of potential investors and lenders immediately.

Also make sure that the executive summary doesn’t exceed 2 pages in total: it’s supposed to be a summary for investors and lenders who don’t have time to scroll through 40-50 pages, so keep it short and brief.

The executive summary usually consists of 5 major sub-sections:

  • Business overview : start by introducing your restaurant and the products and services that you intend offer. Mention the type of restaurant you intend to open (such as fine dining, casual dining, fast casual, ghost restaurant, café, pub, etc.), the menu and prices. Also add here the total number of customers your restaurant can host at once, its location, and some details on the surface and the design layout
  • Market analysis : summarise the market where you will operate and provide a brief about the target audience, market size , competitors, etc. No need to provide granular data here, save it for the Market Overview section later on (or the appendix)
  • People : introduce your restaurant’s management and employee structure. Provide a brief (no more than a couple of sentences each) of the knowledge and experience of the team. Also, speak about your hiring plans.
  • Financial plan : how much profit and revenue do you expect in the next 5 years? When will you reach the break-even point and start making profits? You can include here a chart depicting your key financials statements
  • Funding ask : what loan/investment/grant are you seeking? How much do you need? How long will this last?

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2. Restaurant Business Overview

This is the section where you will provide details about your restaurant and the chosen business model. You must address some important questions that lenders and/or investors generally ask .

Here is a quick list of some of those questions you must address:

  • What is the rationale behind you opening this type of restaurant today?
  • What’s the restaurant’s location and why did you select that location?
  • Why did you select the type of restaurant you want to open?
  • What will be the products and services you will offer?
  • What will be your pricing strategy and why?
  • What will be your opening days / hours?
  • How many customers can you serve at once (capacity)?
  • What is the surface of your restaurant? How is the restaurant designed (incl. dining rooms and kitchen area)?
  • What will be the legal structure of your company?

a) History of the Project

Any business must have two components:

  • Passion & experience of the business owner
  • Rationale behind starting this type of business today

Passion & experience

You may or may not have prior experience. If you have experience, speak about it and how it will help you to run your business. For instance, you may have been a restaurant manager in a popular restaurant for 6 years, and now you want to start your own restaurant and use your knowledge to run it more efficiently.

However, if you don’t already have experience, that’s fine. You must demonstrate your passion and some industry knowledge (you may have conducted thorough research).

What is your restaurant’s mission?

For example, there may not be any fine dining restaurant in your area where wealthy residents or tourists can enjoy an upscale meal experience in a sophisticated and elegant environment.

But that’s not all: your market must be suitable for your business to thrive.

For instance, if you are planning to open a fine dining restaurant in a low-income area, it is probably not going to attract many customers. Similarly, if the population of the target market has a high percentage of people preferring takeaway/delivery food options because of their busy lifestyle, a fine dining restaurant may not be a good idea.

business plan for a fine dining restaurant

b) Business Model

This sub-section of the Business Overview will explain your business model. Describe the following points briefly:

  • Will you buy an existing restaurant and do some remodeling, or will you start a new restaurant and design it from scratch?
  • Will you buy a franchise or do you plan to open an independent restaurant instead?
  • The type of restaurant you want to open and why

What are the different types of restaurants?

There are multiple types of restaurants. Some of them that you may consider include, but are not limited to:

  • Fine Dining : They provide upscale meal experience with several courses. The atmosphere is sophisticated and classy. They can be franchises or individually owned. Of course, they are quite expensive.
  • Casual Dining : This type of restaurants serve customers at their tables and the food prices are moderate. The atmosphere is not very sophisticated. Though the décor is often unique, it can be based on the type of food a restaurant serves.
  • Fast Casual : These restaurants will make your food available quickly, but the food is healthier than fast food. Also, food is cheaper than casual dining. They have a counter service (you must collect food from the counter) and the décor is more contemporary.
  • Ghost Kitchens : ghost kitchens (or “dark kitchen”) restaurants do not have a storefront, a dining room, signage, or décor. They operate using food delivery partners and take orders through online ordering or phone ordering.
  • Fast Food : Think of Taco Bell , KFC, Burger King, etc. The food is relatively cheap and is served quickly. Food ingredients are usually preheated or precooked, and food delivery happens over the counter or via a drive-through window.
  • Buffet Style : These restaurants are similar to the Family Style restaurants but with a fundamental difference. People get to select from a selection of food that are made available against a fixed price. However, customers need to serve themselves and they are allowed to return to the buffet for as many times as they want.

business plan for a fine dining restaurant

c) Products & Services

Of course, the products you will offer in your restaurant will depend on the type of restaurant you are opening. A Buffet Style restaurant, for example, usually prefer specialty cuisines like Indian, pizza, home cooking, Chinese, etc. Similarly, if you are opting for a Diner, you will most likely offer fried foods (fish & chicken), breakfast items, burgers, etc. at a low cost.

It is a good idea to give a list of food and drinks that you want to sell. Depending on the scale of your operations, you may have too many menu items. It is not possible to list every item on your menu, but make sure that you are listing the most important ones. If you specialize in one or a few specific dishes, mention that, too.

business plan for a fine dining restaurant

d) Pricing Strategy

In this sub-section, you must explain the pricing strategy of your restaurant. If you have multiple competitors (in the same niche) in the vicinity, you cannot have huge pricing variation, especially for the similar food items. Pricing will, of course, depend on the type of restaurant you are opening, and the food items you are offering.

For example, if you are sourcing the raw materials only from organic farms that do not use fertilizers and pesticides, your menu items will have a higher price tag.

Similarly, you cannot expect to charge expensive Fine Dining-like prices if you are opening a Casual Dining restaurant instead.

Create a pricing table and ensure to provide an average price range for your products. You don’t need to provide exact pricing for each product. Use price ranges instead.

Offering a pricing table is important because your pricing strategy will allow investors to tie your pricing strategy with your financial projections .

e) Legal Structure

Finally, your business overview section should specify what type of business structure you want. Is this a corporation or a partnership (LLC)? Who are the investors? How much equity percentage do they own? Is there a Board of Directors? If so, whom? Do they have experience in the industry?

3. Restaurant Market Overview

A complete understanding of the market where you want to operate is important for the success of your business.

For example, if your intentions are to open a classy Fine Dining restaurant in a low-income area, you will not attract enough customers. Similarly, if you want to open a fast-food restaurant in a place where family dining is more popular, it will be a disaster.

Therefore, you must cover here 3 important areas:

  • Market size & growth : how big is the restaurant industry in your area? What is its growth rate (or decline rate) and what are the factors contributing to its growth or decline?
  • Competition overview : how many competitors are there? How do they compare vs. your business? How can you differentiate yourself from them?
  • Customer analysis: who is your target audience? What type of restaurants do they prefer? How regularly do they visit restaurants for dining? What type of food do they prefer? How much do they spend at restaurants on average?

a) Restaurant Industry Status Quo

How big is the restaurant industry in the us.

According to Finance Online , there were over 1 million restaurants (all types combined) in the US in 2021. The industry recovered post a 60% drop in sales in April 2020 due to the pandemic, and recorded an annualised market size of over $1 trillion dollars in July 2022 ($1,033 billion)..!

business plan for a fine dining restaurant

How big is the restaurant industry in your area?

Once you provide the overall picture of the US, divert your attention to the area where you want to operate. It might not be possible to find region or area-specific studies, and hence, you must estimate the market size .

For example, if there are 1,000,000 restaurants in the country with total annual revenue of $1 trillion, the average annual revenue for each establishment is around $1 million.

Therefore, if the area where you want to open your restaurant has 30 restaurants, you can safely assume that the restaurant industry in your area is worth approximately $30 million.

How fast is the restaurant industry growing in the area?

You must show the expected growth rate of the restaurant industry in your area. This information may not be available via online research papers. However, assessing the growth rate will not be difficult as you can use metrics such as the number of competitors in your area.

For instance, if there were 25 restaurants in 2018 and 30 restaurants in 2022, the average annual growth rate would be 5%.

business plan for a fine dining restaurant

What are the current restaurant market trends in your area?

It is vital to understand the trends of the restaurant industry in your area. Understanding trends will allow you to devise marketing strategies.

Understanding trends won’t be easy. You must conduct research and talk with your target audience. Additionally, you must also study your competitors to understand their target audience, the products they sell, etc.

Some common questions you may ask the target audience include:

  • What type of restaurants do they prefer?
  • At what time of the day do they prefer to visit a restaurant (breakfast, lunch, dinner)?
  • How frequently do they visit restaurants?
  • What type of foods do they usually order?

You can ask as many questions as you need to understand the evolving trends.

b) Competition Overview

Studying your competitors’ business models is vital. You need to understand what makes them successful or why they fail. A clear understanding of their food offerings, marketing strategies, etc., will allow you to provide a better service.

If your competitors are offering nearly the same products & services, then what is their market share and how do they market their products & services to attract new customers?

It is always a good idea to do some research (if necessary, physically visit your competitors without revealing your business intentions) and create a comparative table summarizing their product & service offerings, marketing strategies, target audience, etc.

Here is a sample table that you can use:

The table you will create will depend on what information you need and want to include based on your proposed business model.

Restaurant SWOT Analysis

Try to provide a SWOT analysis. It must be crisp and highly focused. SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats.

Here is a sample that you can use as a reference:

  • Strength: 8 years of senior manager experience in a reputed Michelin Star Fine Dining restaurant operated & owned by a renowned chef and a master’s degree in Hospitality management, experienced senior chef with 22 years of experience
  • Weakness: Startup cost, zero reputation
  • Opportunities: An affluent neighborhood with a rising demand for fine dining establishments, only one fine dining restaurant in the 3-mile radius
  • Threats: Increasing cost of raw materials because of geo-political turmoil restricting international trade routes

A clear understanding of your strengths and weakness along with opportunities and threats in the real market can help you to design your marketing strategy. It also helps potential investors to assess the risk and reward profile of your business.

business plan for a fine dining restaurant

c) Customer Analysis

This is the sub-section where you will provide a detailed analysis of your target audience.

Some important points that you must include in your customer analysis include:

  • Age and gender distribution (you can get local demographic data from census.gov )
  • Per capita expenditure on dining
  • Frequency of restaurant visits
  • Average monthly income and disposable income
  • Average bill size per visit
  • Average yearly or monthly spending on food at restaurants
  • Type of restaurants preferred
  • The expected price range for food
  • Inclination towards loyalty programs & free perks
  • Things they dislike about existing restaurants and what they expect to be improved

You can add as many data points as required to validate your business decision. The idea here is to display your deep understanding of the target audience and their needs, preferences, and expectations. This knowledge can help you to tailor your products & services to attract new customers and increase sales .

business plan for a fine dining restaurant

4. Sales & Marketing Strategy

This is the segment where you outline your customer acquisition strategy. Try to answer the following questions:

  • What is your USP?
  • What are the different marketing strategies you will use?
  • How do you intend to track the success of your marketing strategy?
  • What is your CAC or customer acquisition cost ?
  • What is your marketing budget?
  • What introductory promos and offers do you intend to provide for attracting new customers?

Let’s expand a bit on a few questions below:

What marketing channels do restaurants use?

A few marketing channels that restaurants typically use are:

  • Word-of-mouth, recommendations,
  • Local listing & reviews (e.g. Google reviews)
  • Online booking platforms (e.g. TheFork , Opentable , etc.)
  • Influencer marketing
  • Print media, etc.

It is not necessary to use all channels. You can start by focusing on a few of them and include other marketing strategies later instead.

business plan for a fine dining restaurant

What is your unique selling proposition?

In other words, how do you differentiate yourself vs. competitors? This is very important as you might need to win customers from competitors.

A few examples of USPs can be:

  • Organic raw materials : we source organic farm fresh raw materials from local farmers
  • Authentic Indian food : prepared by a Michelin Star chef from India
  • Family run restaurant : run by a family, helping families connect over delicious food
  • Price : affordable food & menu for the quality vs. competitors
  • Location : the restaurant is located in a busy street, thereby attracting many customers who can easily glance over the menu
  • Uniqueness : you may be the only tapas-style restaurant around, in an area where people are fond of this type of restaurant

business plan for a fine dining restaurant

5. Management & People

You must address 2 things here:

  • The management team and their experience / track record
  • The organizational structure : different team members and who reports to whom?

a) Management

Small businesses often fail because of managerial weaknesses. Thus, having a strong management team is vital. Highlight the experience and education of senior managers that you intend to hire to oversee your restaurant business.

Describe their duties, responsibilities, and roles. Also, highlight their previous experience and explain how they succeeded in their previous roles.

It is also important that you explain how their experiences and qualifications help you in implementing the restaurant you are proposing. If they have specialized training, achievement, and experience (such as a degree in hospitality management, 3 Michelin stars, experience in developing menus for 5-star hotels, etc.), add that information.

b) Organization Structure

Even if you haven’t already hired a restaurant manager, server, chef, head cook, busser, cashier, bartenders, and other relevant staff members, you must provide here a chart of the organizational structure defining the hierarchy of reporting.

business plan for a fine dining restaurant

6. Financial Plan

The financial plan is perhaps, with the executive summary, the most important section of any business plan for a restaurant.

Indeed, a solid financial plan tells lenders that your business is viable and can repay the loan you need from them. If you’re looking to raise equity from private investors, a solid financial plan will prove them your restaurant is an attractive investment.

There should be 2 sections to your financial plan section:

  • The startup costs of your project (if you plan to start a new restaurant, renovate your restaurant, etc.)
  • The 5-year financial projections

a) Startup Costs

Before we expand on 5-year financial projections in the following section, it’s always best practice to start with listing the startup costs of your restaurant . For a restaurant, startup costs are all the expenses you incur before you open your restaurant and start making sales. These expenses typically are:

  • The leasing deposit for the space (if you rent) or to buy the real estate (if you buy)
  • Renovations and improvements
  • Equipment & appliances
  • Furniture & tableware

Of course, the startup costs depend on a number of factors, like the size of your restaurant, its location, the facilities, the menu, etc.

On average, it costs $484,000 to $685,000 to open a casual restaurant with 150 seats (2,500 sq. ft.) in the US.

Note that these costs are for illustrative purposes and may not be fully relevant for your business. For more information on how much it costs to open and run a restaurant, read our article here .

b) Financial Projections

In addition to startup costs, you will now need to build a solid 5-year financial model for your restaurant.

Your financial projections should be built using a spreadsheet (e.g. Excel or Google Sheets) and presented in the form of tables and charts in the business plan of your restaurant.

As usual, keep it concise here and save details (for example detailed financial statements, financial metrics, key assumptions used for the projections) for the appendix instead.

Your financial projections should answer at least the following questions:

  • How much revenue do you expect to generate over the next 5 years?
  • When do you expect to break even ?
  • How much cash will you burn until you get there?
  • What’s the impact of a change in pricing (say 15%) on your margins?
  • What is your average customer acquisition cost?

You should include here your 3 financial statements (income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement). This means you must forecast:

  • The number of covers (customers or orders) over time ;
  • Your expected revenue ;
  • Operating costs to run the business ;
  • Any other cash flow items (e.g. capex, debt repayment, etc.).

When projecting your revenue, make sure to sensitize pricing, cost of raw materials (food supplies) and your sales volume. Indeed, a small change in these assumptions may have a significant impact on your revenues and profits.

business plan for a fine dining restaurant

7. Use of Funds

This is the last section of the business plan of your restaurant. Now that we have explained what your restaurant’s business model and concept are, what is your menu, your marketing strategy, etc., this section must now answer the following questions:

  • How much funding do you need ?
  • What financial instrument(s) do you need: is this equity or debt, or even a free-money public grant?
  • How long will this funding last?
  • Where else does the money come from? If you apply for a SBA loan for example, where does the other part of the investment come from (your own capital, private investors?)

If you raise debt:

  • What percentage of the total funding the loan represents?
  • What is the corresponding Debt Service Coverage Ratio ?

If you raise equity

  • What percentage ownership are you selling as part of this funding round?
  • What is the corresponding valuation of your business?

Use of Funds

Any restaurant business plan should include a clear use of funds section. This is where you explain how the money will be spent.

Will you spend most of the loan / investment in paying your employees’ salaries? Or will it cover mostly the cost for the lease deposit and the renovation?

Those are very important questions you should be able to answer in the blink of an eye. Don’t worry, this should come straight from your financial projections. If you’ve built solid projections like in our restaurant financial model template , you won’t have any issues answering these questions.

For the use of funds, we also recommend using a pie chart like the one we have in our financial model template where we outline the main expenses categories as shown below.

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

Saif Alnasur

Have you decided to open a restaurant? Has it been something you've thought of doing for years and are finally in a position to make it happen?

Regardless of how much time you've spent conceptualizing your idea and researching the industry, without proper planning, your restaurant is doomed for failure.

That's where a restaurant business plan comes in. A restaurant business plan is a framework that guides you to plan and forecast every element of restaurant management and operations; from menu design, location, financials, employee training, and a lot more, and helps develop your restaurant ideas into a reality.

Read on for everything you need to know about writing a restaurant business plan along with samples and tips.

Key Takeaways

  • Consider using a restaurant consultant or SWOT analysis tools/templates.
  • Well-executed SWOT analysis aids strategic decision-making and long-term success.
  • A comprehensive restaurant business plan is essential and should include a well-defined concept that outlines the type of cuisine, ambiance, and unique selling proposition (USP) of the restaurant.
  • Conducting thorough market research to understand the target market, including demographics, preferences, and needs, is crucial for tailoring the restaurant's offerings and marketing efforts.
  • Developing a strong marketing strategy, including branding, online presence, advertising, and promotions, is vital for attracting customers and building a loyal customer base.
  • Realistic financial projections, including revenue, expenses, and profit margins, should be included to evaluate the feasibility and profitability of the restaurant, along with contingency plans.
  • Detailed operational plans, such as the restaurant's layout, staffing, inventory management, and customer service, are crucial for ensuring smooth operations and efficient management.
  • Analyzing the competitive landscape, including direct and indirect competitors, helps identify opportunities and challenges and develop strategies to stay ahead in the market.
  • An effective executive summary providing an overview of the restaurant's concept, market opportunity, marketing strategy, financial projections, and the team is crucial for attracting potential investors or partners.

business plan for a fine dining restaurant

Why is a restaurant business plan important?

Many new restauranteurs fail to put together a well-thought-out restaurant business plan because the process can be a bit difficult and time-consuming. But without a proper restaurant business plan, you're shooting in the dark without an aim. It's unlikely that you would be able to secure an investor to help fund your restaurant dream without a proper plan. And even if you do, the lack of proper planning, regulations, and forecasts will set your restaurant up for failure. 

Your restaurant business plan is what is going to map out how you plan on turning a profit from your business as well as where your restaurant fits into the saturated market and how you plan on standing out.

A little time and pain early on are worth the reward of a successful restaurant in the long run.

The 11 key steps a restaurant business plan should include

A good business plan varies from restaurant to restaurant and takes into account factors like style of restaurant, target market, location, etc. If you're new to the restaurant game, the idea of creating a business plan can be daunting. To help you get started, we have highlighted the key elements you need to include when writing a restaurant business plan. 

Depending on who you are presenting your business plan to, you can change the order of the sections to reflect priority.

Here are the main components of a restaurant business plan

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Market Analysis
  • Restaurant Design
  • Market Overview
  • External help
  • Financial Analysis

1. Executive summary

A restaurant business plan should always begin with an executive summary. An executive summary not only acts as the introduction to your business plan but also 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.

Common elements of an executive summary include:

  • Mission statement (learn more about how to write a good mission statement here )
  • Proposed concept
  • A brief look at potential costs
  • Expected return on investments

An executive summary is imperative for those looking to get investors to fund their projects. Instead of having to comb through the entire restaurant business plan to get all the information, they can instead just look through the executive summary.

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 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 restaurant will succeed in this market.

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.

3.2 Competition analysis

It's easy to assume that everyone will visit your restaurant, 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 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? 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 your 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 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.

Free Restaurant Business Plan Template The only business plan you'll ever need. Download 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 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 restaurant. Mention everything from square footage to typical demographics.

8. Market overview

The market overview section is heavily related to the market 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 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 marketing 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 investors 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 financial 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 on 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. 

Restaurant business plan template

Ready to get started? Download our free restaurant business plan template to guide you through the process.

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  1. 5+ Free Restaurant Business Plan Templates

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  2. FINE DINING RESTAURANT BUSINESS PLAN -Template with example sample

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  3. 5+ Free Restaurant Business Plan Templates

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  4. Restaurant Business Plan Templates

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  5. Restaurant Business Plan Templates

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  6. Fine Dining Restaurant Business Plan

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

    Start your own fine dining restaurant business plan Gabri's Restaurant & Lounge Financial Plan Forecast Key Assumptions Our financial plan depends on important assumptions, most of which are shown in the following table as annual figures. The key underlying assumptions are: We assume a slow-growth economy, without major recession.

  2. How to write a restaurant business plan

    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.

  3. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan: Complete Guide

    Restaurant Financial Model. All you need to get funded: startup costs, profits, breakeven, charts, valuation. Download the template. Rated 4.8/5 from 5,900+ downloads. 3. Restaurant Market Overview. A complete understanding of the market where you want to operate is important for the success of your business.

  4. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan in 2023 (Step by Step

    The 11 key steps a restaurant business plan should include A good business plan varies from restaurant to restaurant and takes into account factors like style of restaurant, target market, location, etc. If you're new to the restaurant game, the idea of creating a business plan can be daunting.