How to create a plan for your restaurant business

A small restaurant business plan is like a guide to help you start a successful restaurant. To make your own plan, ask your friends and colleagues for examples of restaurant business plans. Look at their samples to get ideas for yours.

After checking out these examples, start writing your plan. No matter how much you believe in your restaurant idea or how many people think it’s great, you need to write a business plan. This plan will show potential investors that your idea is good and answer the question: “Why does the world need this restaurant?”

Charles Bililies, the owner of Souvla, a popular Greek restaurant in San Francisco, says, “A business plan is like showing you’ve done your homework. You need to prove to investors that you have a real plan, you know what you’re doing, it looks professional, and you’re serious about it.”

1.Covers with a branded appearance

 You should include your logo (even if it hasn’t been finalized yet), the date, and your name.

2.Table of contents

A table of contents in a restaurant business plan is like a map that shows the plan’s structure and what’s inside. It’s usually at the start and lists all the main parts and their page numbers.

This table is useful for a few reasons. First, it helps readers find what they’re looking for quickly. Second, it makes the plan look professional and well-organized, showing that you’ve thought carefully about your ideas. It also makes the plan easier to read and understand because people can easily find and go back to the information they need.

A person who owns a restaurant is thinking about how to set up a new space for their business plan. | Image: Getty Images

3.Concept of a restaurant

Explain your restaurant idea and make the reader interested. Say if your restaurant will be fancy or more laid-back. Share a short summary and provide details about the food, the inspiration for your idea, and how you’ll serve customers.

Clearly explain what makes your restaurant special and share your mission statement. This part should also talk about the market, showing how your restaurant is similar to and different from other restaurants.

4.Here is a sample menu

The menu is a crucial part of a restaurant’s brand, so it should be more than just a list of items. Put in your logo and create a designed menu (ask a designer if you need help).

Your sample menu should have prices based on a detailed cost analysis. This helps:

  • Investors understand your planned prices
  • Estimate the average cost per customer
  • Create financial projections for starting costs
  • Show investors you’ve done the necessary work
  • Prove you can stick to a budget

5. The service

This part is most important for:

  • Fancy restaurants
  • Places with a special way of serving
  • Owners who care a lot about how service is done in their restaurant.

Explaining the details of how guests will be served can be a strong way to show your hospitality approach to investors.

Will your restaurant use a quick counter service and special software to manage guests fast, or will it be like a theater, with servers bringing out plates all at once?

If having a great wine selection is a big part of your plan, will you have a wine expert (sommelier)? If you think service isn’t a big deal for your business, just mention it briefly in this part.

Two people who work at a restaurant are looking at the money details for a new restaurant as part of their business plan. | Image: Getty Images

6.The management team

Write a short introduction about yourself and the team you’ve put together. Share how your experiences have given you the skills to run a successful restaurant and be a good restaurant owner.

If possible, highlight the strengths of each team member. When you present a full pitch deck, it’s good to show that your team is strong. Independent restaurant investors often care about more than just money, so it might be helpful to share some things about what you value and who you are outside of work.

7.The design process

Include some visuals. Make a mood board that illustrates the design and feel of your restaurant.

If you plan to cook in a wood-burning oven or design an eclectic front-of-house, be sure to include those ideas. Photos of materials and snippets of other restaurants similar to the brand you are building are also helpful.

8.Market segmentation

What kind of people will eat at your restaurant? What is their occupation, how old are they, and what is their average income? Having described them in detail, emphasize why your specific concept will appeal to them.

A business plan is discussed by two restaurant workers. Images courtesy of Getty Images

9.The location

There should be a natural and very clear connection between the information you provide in the “Target Market” section and this one. It is likely that you will not have a There is no specific site identified at this stage in the process, but you should discuss viable neighborhoods.

Don’t assume that your potential investors will be familiar with the areas you are discussing and who lives or works there-make the connections clear to them. Ideally, you would like readers to be confident that your restaurant’s “ideal” diner intersects with the neighborhood(s) you are proposing as often as possible.

Whether or not you 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.Overview of the market

Describe the micro and macro market conditions in your area and how they relate to licenses and permits. What are the economic conditions at the local and regional levels?

Explain why your restaurant will not do well if restaurants are doing well; if restaurants are doing well, explain how you will be able to compete in an already booming restaurant market. Discuss your direct competitors on a micro level. You should discuss what types of restaurants share your target market and how you will differentiate yourself from them.

11.Publicity and marketing

Restaurants are becoming increasingly competitive. Present your pre- and post-opening marketing plans to investors so they can see how you plan to gain traction leading up to opening day and how you plan to keep the momentum going after the opening.

When retaining a PR/marketing firm, introduce them and explain why you have chosen them over other firms (including some of their best-known clients is helpful). Alternatively, convey that you have a solid plan for generating attention on your own through social media, your website, and media contacts.

It is possible to streamline discussions about a business plan by using technology, as these two restaurant workers demonstrate. Image courtesy of Getty Images

12.Consultants and specialists

Provide a list of any outside contractors you intend to hire, such as:

  • An accountant
  • An attorney
  • The architect
  • The designer
  • Contractor in general
  • Marketing and public relations

Provide a brief description of the services they will be providing to you, the reasons for choosing them, and any notable accomplishments they have achieved.

13.Structure of the business

It is recommended that this section be kept short and sweet. What type of business structure have you established and why did you decide on that structure? If you are unsure what type of business structure is right for your business, you should consult an attorney.

The first step is to write a business plan. The second step is to hire an experienced attorney. As well as helping me develop a smart, sustainable business structure, my attorney was a great resource for reviewing my business plan because she has reviewed thousands. In addition to legal matters, she provided an outside perspective that was very helpful and experienced,” remarks Charles Bililies.

14.Projection of financial results

Ensure that your accountant guides you through this portion of your business plan. You should hire someone with a wealth of restaurant experience (not just a few places) to help you with your finances. It is important that they are familiar with the financial aspects of starting a restaurant and know what questions to ask you.

Your accountant will need to know the following information before creating realistic financial projections:

  • The number of seats in the restaurant
  • Your average check will be
  • What is the number of covers you plan to do per day

The key to making these estimations is to be conservative. Using these three factors, we will be able to determine whether your concept is financially feasible.

Lou Guerrero, Principal at Kross, Baumgarten, Kniss & Guerrero, says, “You’ll get a lot of accountants who say they’ve done a couple of restaurants, but you need a professional that has deep expertise.” It is not beneficial to hire someone who does not specialize in the restaurant industry.

You’ll need to have prepared to show investors a well-vetted accountant with restaurant experience.

Among the key projections you can expect to work on are:

  • A pro forma profit and loss statement for the first three to five years of operations
  • Analysis of break-even points
  • Budget for capital requirements

Developing a comprehensive restaurant business plan is one of the most important steps in opening a successful restaurant. Potential investors will recognize the viability of your concept if you draw inspiration from examples, demonstrate your expertise, and address all the essential components.

It is important to remember that a well-prepared business plan demonstrates professionalism and a clear understanding of your goal, increasing your chances of success in the competitive restaurant industry in the long run.

You can design your own website. The easiest way to make sure your website can accomplish all of these goals is to hire a pro. You’ll have more time to run and grow your business.

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