You're excited about your new restaurant, its menu, and potential customers. The first step to achieving the success you envision is creating a restaurant business plan.
A business plan not only forces you to think through all aspects of your business and solve potential problems, but it also provides a convincing argument to potential investors that your restaurant is a viable, profitable concept. Opening a restaurant costs at least $100,000 and can even go into the millions, so creating a stellar business plan can help you get the funds you need.
How to Get Started with a Business Plan
It can be helpful to look at sample restaurant business plans or restaurant business plan templates online. Be sure to compare your concept to others in your area. Take notes and jot down ideas for things you want to include at your restaurant. As you create the plan, you will be able to work out the details for every aspect of the business.
A restaurant plan does not need to be a certain length, but it should include as much detail as needed to explain your concept and plans fully. In general, the more detail you can include, the better, both because more details make you better prepared to hit the ground running and because it gives potential investors a lot of information to consider.
What to Include in Your Restaurant Business Plan
Your business plan should include the following sections, arranged in the order that best highlights the key aspects of your restaurant.
- Cover: The cover should look professional. Include the restaurant's name, logo, date, and your name and contact information.
- Concept: This section presents the general concept of your restaurant. It should convey excitement about its innovative or interesting features. Describe the type of food that will be on the menu, service approach, basic décor style, and inspiration. This is the first thing an investor will read about your restaurant, so be sure it grabs their interest. Describing the concept here also helps you solidify your vision.
- Sample menu: This is just a potential menu—you're aren't committing to it in detail, but it should be a fair representation of the types of dishes you will include. Include anticipated prices and, if you have signature dishes, be sure to highlight them.
- Business type: Explain the legal framework behind the restaurant. Will you be incorporating? Forming an LLC? Acting as a partnership or sole proprietor? Explain your choice and detail who the owners are.
- Management: Describe the team you've put together and each person's experience and qualifications. Go into detail about the number of servers, cooks, and managers you will hire and how management is structured. If you plan to hire specialists such as sommeliers or pastry chefs, specify that. Discuss technology you will use, such as inventory management software, scheduling software, and point-of-sale technology. Discuss how you will retain and manage staff.
- Design: The restaurant's interior and exterior are key to customer experience and important to investors. Fully describe the setting and include photographs or sample drawings to convey the style. Include a diagram of a proposed floor plan as well. Discuss furniture, lighting, and art, as well as the kitchen design and types of equipment you will use.
- Service style: Your hospitality style is a key factor in your restaurant's personality so go into details about table service, counter service, takeout, bar service, and more. Explain what the guest experience will be like. Will servers be low-key and funky or highly formal? If your concept is fast-casual, explain how the takeout process will work. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, takeout is a topic every restaurant should address in their business plan.
- Location: Where your restaurant is located is incredibly important. Describe the type of neighborhood or area you are looking for. Explain what each is like so that investors can get a clear picture. The key here is to locate your restaurant in a convenient place for the types of diners you hope to attract. Also, discuss details of the property itself, such as square footage, parking, foot traffic, accessibility, bathrooms, bar, and kitchen spaces.
- Market: Determine your target diner—offer details about age, income, where they live, and the type of jobs they have. Describe why the restaurant you are creating is something they will be interested in. Then discuss the market for restaurants in your area. Are they thriving or struggling? Explain why and show how yours will succeed in this environment. List specific restaurants you will be competing with and how you will stand out in comparison. Address your strengths and weaknesses in the market so you can provide a realistic picture.
- Publicity: A fantastic restaurant won't succeed unless people know about it. Explain how you will market your restaurant so that people will learn about it. You might choose to hire a marketing firm or do the publicity yourself. Whatever your plans are, detail them and be sure to include social media, traditional media, advertising, your website, and other methods.
- Consultants: List any outside specialists you will hire, such as an attorney, accountant, designer, general contractor, and publicity firm. Name each company or person and briefly explain their past successes and what type of work they will be doing for your restaurant.
- Financial information: This part of the plan is crucial for obtaining outside investors. If possible, work with your accountant to create this section. Be sure to include the number of seats, average check amount, and number of covers per day. You will also need to provide a projected profit-and-loss statement, a break-even analysis, startup costs, sales forecast, and a budget for capital requirements. Discuss your staffing costs and food costs and how you will manage them to be profitable. Include price lists from suppliers and show how you calculate your menu prices based on those prices.
A restaurant business plan is your blueprint for success. Taking the time to create a robust and well-thought-out plan will help you achieve your dream.