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How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan in 2024 (Step by Step Guide with Templates)

Updated on January 30, 2024, 30 days ago 10 minute read
Author : Saif Alnasur
Reviewed by : Nezar Kadhem
Updated : January 30, 2024 10 min read
Author : Saif Alnasur
Reviewed by : Nezar Kadhem
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Contents

A comprehensive restaurant business plan is a framework that guides you to plan and forecast every element of restaurant management and operations.

This includes anything from your restaurant's menu design, location, financials, employee training, and a lot more.

Crafting a solid business plan is important, as it helps:

  • Transform your restaurant ideas into reality.
  • Boosts entrepreneurial success by 16% (Harvard Business Study).
  • Equips you to navigate challenges before they arise.
  • Attracts potential investors.

“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.” - Charles Bililies, owner of Souvla

Planning is key to restaurant success. Without a plan, you're more likely to join the 26% of restaurants that fail within a year.

Create a business plan to set yourself up for success.

Here's how to get started. 

>>> Get your hands on our free restaurant business plan template.

restaurant business plan

A step-by-step guide to writing a restaurant business plan

Embarking on a restaurant venture is an exciting prospect filled with endless possibilities.

However, the key to transforming your culinary dreams into reality lies in the foundation of a well-crafted restaurant business plan.

This guide will walk you through creating a winning restaurant business plan, from defining your niche to seeking expert advice.

So, are you ready to cook up some success? Let's get started. 

Essential components of a restaurant business plan

A well-structured restaurant business plan typically consists of the following key components:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Company Description
  3. Market Analysis
  4. Menu
  5. Employees
  6. Restaurant Design
  7. Location
  8. Market Overview
  9. Marketing
  10. External help
  11. Financial Analysis

Delving into each section

Now, let's take a closer look at each section of your restaurant business plan and explore the key elements to consider:

1. Executive summary

A restaurant business plan should always begin with an executive summary. Why?

An executive summary not only acts as the introduction to your restaurant business plan samples but also as 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.

The executive summary also helps you envision the identity of your restaurant which essentially shapes the customer experience and sets you apart from competitors.

To establish a distinct identity, you need to focus on common elements of an executive summary, including:

  • A mission statement 
  • Proposed concept development
  • Cuisine selection
  • The overall execution
  • The potential costs
  • Expected return on investments (ROI)

Let's take a more in-depth look at the concept development, cuisine selection, and mission statement.

 

Concept Development

Selecting the type of restaurant, service style, and atmosphere is the first step towards creating a unique dining experience. Whether you envision a sample menu for a:

  • cozy, intimate bistro
  • bustling quick-service deli
  • fast-casual restaurant
  • fine dining establishment

Your concept should reflect your passion and expertise in the industry.

With a broad range of options, it’s critical to scrutinize your target market and pinpoint the most suitable choice considering their preferences and your capabilities.

When planning your restaurant design, keep in mind that it should effectively complement your chosen theme and cuisine.

Additionally, consider the potential for patio seating and the involvement of your management team in making these critical decisions.

A well-thought-out concept will not only set the stage for an unforgettable dining experience but also pique the interest of potential investors.

Cuisine Selection

The cuisine you select for your restaurant can significantly influence its success.

Choosing the appropriate cuisine is vital for distinguishing your establishment from competitors and attracting your target market.

To make an informed decision, consider factors such as:

  • Market demand
  • Expertise and passion
  • Ingredient availability
  • Competition
  • Profitability
  • Cultural fit
  • Seasonality

Dietary restrictions and trends

In the highly competitive restaurant industry, keeping track of current and emerging cuisine trends can be a significant advantage.

From regional delicacies to innovative fusion dishes, understanding what’s popular and in demand can help you tailor your offerings to the desires of your target audience.

By thoroughly analyzing the market and adapting to evolving tastes, your restaurant can remain relevant and successful in the long run.

Crafting a mission statement

A well-constructed mission statement communicates the purpose, values, and goals of your restaurant to potential investors and customers alike.

A mission statement serves as a guiding light for decision-makers and employees, fueling their efforts to achieve your restaurant’s objectives.

To create an impactful mission statement, consider the following steps:

  • Identify the purpose of the restaurant.
  • Contemplate the brand’s image.
  • Account for the target audience.
  • Incorporate company values.
  • Ensure brevity and comprehensiveness.

Related content: How to Write a Restaurant Mission Statement 

Remember, your mission statement should not only differentiate your restaurant from competitors but also resonate with your target market.

By articulating your restaurant’s unique values and vision, you’ll create a strong foundation upon which to build a thriving and successful business.

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 overview or 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 most independent restaurant investors will succeed in this market.

Here's an example of the page layout: 

Company Description

Restaurant Name: [Restaurant Name]

Location: [Restaurant Address]

Contact: [Restaurant Phone Number] | [Restaurant Email Address]

Owner: [Owner Name]

Experience: [Owner Name] has over [Number] years of experience in the restaurant industry. They have worked in various roles, including [List of Roles]. They are passionate about food and creating a memorable dining experience for their guests.

Legal Standing: [Restaurant Name] is a [Type of Legal Entity] registered in [State/Province].

Goals:

Short-term Goals:

  • Generate [Amount] in revenue within the first year of operation.
  • Achieve a [Percentage] customer satisfaction rating within the first six months of operation.

Long-term Goals:

  • Expand to a second location within five years.
  • Become a recognized leader in the regional food industry.

Market Study:

The regional food industry is experiencing a number of trends, including:

  • An increasing demand for fresh, local ingredients.
  • A growing interest in ethnic cuisine.
  • A preference for casual dining experiences.

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.

Comprehending your target market is key to customizing your restaurant offerings to their preferences and needs.

By diving into demographics, preferences, dining habits, and trends, you can fine-tune your concept and marketing strategy to reach and appeal to your target audience effectively.

An example of analyzing your target market

 Comprehending your target market is key to customizing your restaurant offerings to their preferences and needs.

By diving into demographics, preferences, dining habits, and trends, you can fine-tune your concept and marketing strategy to reach and appeal to your target audience effectively.

Demographics and preferences

Identifying your primary target market involves considering factors such as:

  • Age
  • Interests
  • Income
  • Location

For example, a neighborhood with a high concentration of families might prefer a family-friendly restaurant with a diverse menu catering to various age groups and dietary preferences.

Conversely, a trendy urban area with a predominantly young and affluent population may gravitate towards upscale dining experiences and innovative cuisine.

Cultural and ethnic backgrounds also have a significant impact on restaurant preferences, with people from different backgrounds having distinctive tastes and customs that influence their dining choices.

By thoroughly understanding the demographics and preferences of your target market, you’ll be better equipped to create a restaurant concept that resonates with them and ultimately drives success.

Dining habits and trends

As the restaurant industry continues to evolve, staying informed about dining habits and trends is crucial for adapting your offerings and attracting customers.

For example, the rise of online ordering and delivery services has significantly influenced dining habits, with many consumers seeking the convenience of having their meals delivered to their doorstep.

Health trends have also had an impact on dining habits, with an increasing number of individuals seeking healthier options when dining out.

By staying abreast of current habits and trends, you can anticipate the needs and desires of your target market and tailor your restaurant’s offerings accordingly.

This forward-thinking approach will not only help you stay competitive but also foster long-term success in the ever-changing restaurant landscape.

3.2 Competition analysis

It's easy to assume that everyone will visit your new restaurant first, 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 service style to 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 in the restaurant industry?

How do you plan on securing your target market? What kind of offers will you provide your guests? Make sure to list everything.

4. Menu

The most important element to launching a successful 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's business plan and 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.

Download our free restaurant business plan  It's the only one you'll ever need. Get template 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 settle on for your restaurant should be well aligned with your target market (making it easier to cater to your ideal customer) and with your business plans.

At this stage in the process, its not uncommon to not have a specific location in mind - but you should at the very least have a few options to narrow down.

Tip: When you approach your investors about potential locations, make sure to include as much information as possible about each venue and why it would be ideal for your brand. Go into as much detail as possible - including everything from square footage to the demographics of the area.

Example for choosing an ideal location

Choosing the ideal location for your restaurant is a pivotal decision that can greatly influence your success. 

To make the best choice, consider factors such as foot traffic, accessibility, and neighborhood demographics.

By carefully evaluating these factors, you’ll be better equipped to maximize visibility and attract your target market.

Foot traffic and accessibility

Foot traffic and accessibility are essential factors in selecting a location that will attract customers and ensure convenience.

A high-traffic area with ample parking and public transportation options can greatly increase the likelihood of drawing in potential customers.

Additionally, making your restaurant accessible to individuals with disabilities can further broaden your customer base and promote inclusivity.

It’s also important to consider the competition in the area and assess whether your restaurant can stand out among existing establishments.

By choosing a location with strong foot traffic and accessibility, you’ll be well on your way to creating a thriving restaurant that appeals to your target market.

Neighborhood demographics

Analyzing neighborhood demographics can help you determine if your restaurant’s concept and cuisine will appeal to the local population.

Factors such as income levels, family structures, and cultural diversity can all influence dining preferences and habits.

By understanding the unique characteristics of the neighborhood, you can tailor your offerings and marketing efforts to resonate with the local community.

Conducting a market analysis can be a valuable step in this process.

To gather demographic data for a particular neighborhood, you can utilize resources such as the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and reference maps.

Armed with this information, you can make informed decisions about your restaurant’s concept, menu, and pricing, ensuring that your establishment is well-positioned for success within the community.

Conducting market research will further strengthen your understanding of the local demographic.

8. Market overview

The market overview section is heavily related to the market research and 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 other 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 next marketing strategy 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 other potential investors about 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 own financial projections and 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 for 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. 

Takeaways

A well-crafted restaurant business plan serves as a roadmap to success, guiding every aspect of the venture from menu design to employee training.

By carefully considering each component of the plan, aspiring restaurateurs can increase their chances of securing funding, attracting customers, and achieving their long-term goals.

Remember, a restaurant business plan is not just a document to satisfy investors; it is a living tool that should be revisited and updated regularly as the business grows and evolves.

By staying committed to the plan and adapting it as needed, restaurateurs can ensure that their culinary dreams have a solid foundation for success.

Download our free restaurant business plan  It's the only one you'll ever need. Get template now

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