Restaurant Business Plan Template: Grow Your Business the Right Way

Planning the best way forward for your new restaurant can be a daunting task. Whether you’re living the dream of opening your own restaurant or reworking your existing concept, a restaurant business plan template takes a ton of stress out of writing a business plan.

In this article, we walk you through how to create a restaurant business plan so you’re not stranded in a quagmire of confusing priorities and too many ideas. Even better, we’ve created a free restaurant business plan template to form the operational foundation as you put one together! As you follow through our guide, feel free to download, customize, and reference our template to help you put your restaurant on the path to success.

To start, let’s go through all the ways a written business plan helps shape your restaurant, and why it boosts your business’s chance of success.

What is a restaurant business plan?

A restaurant business plan is a written document that lays out an overview of a restaurant, its objectives, and its plans for achieving its goals.

A business plan is a necessary tool for restaurants of all kinds and sizes. It can be a handful of pages long or much more detailed. A well-written restaurant business plan not only helps you organize your ideas, it’s also a key part of getting investor funding.

Why you need a business plan. 

Creatively, opening a new restaurant can be incredibly exciting. But it’s also super complicated. From licenses to equipment to building a team, each phase needs a lot of attention to detail.

Before you jump in, it’s important to shape your plan of attack, organizing your business ideas into a clear, concise narrative that an outsider could easily understand. A business plan is an essential part of this, as it helps you:

Set short- and long-term goals.

A restaurant business plan not only shows how your business will operate in its early stages—it also shows what steps it’ll need to follow as time goes by. Setting both your short and long-term goals at the outset makes you more likely to achieve them. Short-term goals may include meeting current staffing needs, while long-term goals may include five-year growth forecasts and the steps involved to get there.

Understand your resource needs.

Going through the exercise of writing a restaurant business plan is as important as having the finished document in front of you. As you organize your thoughts, your resource needs—from the amount of capital you need to raise all the way down to the equipment you need to find—will take shape. 

Reduce potential risks.

Sadly, some 60% of restaurants fail within the first year of opening. One of the main reasons? A failure to plan. Your business plan will help you plan for most challenges at your restaurant before they come up, keeping you on the right side of that number.

Some of the risks your restaurant faces might include:

  • Crowded market. One key component of your business plan is conducting market research. How will you ensure your restaurant stands out?
  • Supply chain issues. Especially if your eye is toward growth, you need to know how to affordably, reliably, and sustainably keep your restaurant stocked—long-term. Why not track supply strategies as part of your business plan?
  • Health and safety. Are you compliant with health regulations? How will you know? Your business plan is one great place to outline compliance protocols, keeping you and your team informed.

Develop a marketing strategy.

As you do your market analysis and figure out your ideal customer, the ways you’ll promote your business will get clearer. The more specific you are with your market research, the easier and more effective your marketing efforts will be.

Build your team.

Your business plan helps you see who you’ll need on your team and which roles you’ll need to fill first. For investors, your business plan is a document showcasing everyone’s collective experience, personalizing your restaurant in their eyes and packing a professional punch. This can include everyone from your head chef to your star hostess. Make it clear how you’re filling your hospitality niche!

Share your vision.

Whether you’re using your business plan to secure startup funding or need additional capital after you’ve already opened, your restaurant business plan shows an investor or lender exactly why they should get behind you. Your business plan should detail where you began (or hope to begin), where you are now, and where you intend to go—as well as how.

The 9 elements of a strong restaurant business plan.

Your restaurant business plan will be unique to your restaurant’s vision. But all good business plans hit standard points, and whoever reads yours will expect to see certain elements. As you develop and finalize your ideas, here are nine key elements your business plan should include. 

1. Executive summary

A strong restaurant business plan begins with a strong executive summary. This is a sharp, concise overview of your restaurant—and your  best opportunity to grab people’s attention.

Here’s where you communicate, in a nutshell, what kind of restaurant you want to run. Which demographic will you be targeting? Why is your business something the community wants or needs? Especially if you’re asking for financing, include a snapshot of your financial information and growth plan as well. 

Your executive summary should briefly lay out:

  • Your mission statement. Why are you starting this restaurant now, in this location? 
  • Your idea. What’s the concept of this restaurant?
  • Your plan of execution. What are your key steps to making this concept work?
  • Your potential costs. What are your expected expenses?
  • Your anticipated ROI. How much do you expect your restaurant to make?

Many investors will make a split-second decision off of the executive summary alone. It might be all they’re going to read, so make every word count.

2. Company description

Now it’s time to let your creativity out and give your restaurant concept life. Give a more detailed description of your concept that lets your passion for what you’re creating come through. 

Flesh out all the other details of your proposed restaurant, including your restaurant’s:

  • Style of cuisine
  • Any unique selling points or differentiators that will make customers choose you—for instance, aesthetic or celebrity chef
  • Service style
  • Restaurant name (or at least ideas)
  • Size, seating style, and capacity
  • Location ideas—or the location you’ve scouted or secured
  • Ambiance ideas, including décor, lighting, and music
  • Operating hours
  • Other service offerings, like whether you’ll offer delivery or takeout, delivery guarantees, catering, and any retail products you plan to sell
  • Legal structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC) 
  • Existing management and their roles, including yours
  • Experts or advisors you’ve brought on board

3. Market analysis

Present the research you’ve done on your target market. Make a couple of buyer personas to represent your future customers, explaining:

  • Where your target customers live
  • Their income levels
  • Their dining-out and/or ordering-in pain points (e.g., lack of late opening hours, lack of family friendliness)
  • How often they dine out or order in

Go through which other restaurants already have a customer base in your area, then explain why people will choose your restaurant over others. 

4. Sample menu

Even at the business plan stage, menu engineering is crucial. The specific menu items you’re likely to serve—the biggest thing that will set you apart—should shine through with descriptions that are short, clear, and evocative. If you have an executive chef already, this is a great area for them to add input.

Use language that will get people excited about trying your offerings. Hire a designer or use an online program to create your own mockup using the same colors, fonts, and design elements as the rest of your branding. 

5. Business structure

Dive deeper into your business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, etc.) and organizational management. Show what your different employee positions will be (co-founders, managers, servers) to give a sense of your team’s makeup. An organizational chart can be helpful here.

Investors won’t expect you to have your entire team on board at this stage, but you should have at least a couple of people firmed up. For the roles that are already filled, including your own, summarize your collective experience and achievements. Bullet points work well, or some people choose to go into more detail with full resumes for the executive team or critical team members.

6. Restaurant design and location

Long before you sign a lease, make sure that your new offering will outshine existing ones nearby. In this section of your business plan, explain why your chosen location, or the ones you’re narrowing down, are going to be an effective space for your target market.

Consider things like:

  • Neighborhood demographics
  • Foot traffic
  • Labor costs
  • Accessibility

Hand in hand with location, your restaurant’s interior design—both in its floor plan and its ambiance—is also crucial to your business’s viability. Come up with a captivating restaurant design that communicates your theme and matches your cuisine, creating a memorable customer experience. Decide how many tables you’ll be serving, and plan out any outdoor seating.

Touch on things like:

  • Lighting
  • Decor
  • Team uniforms
  • Flatware and glassware

7. Marketing strategy

How do you plan to market your restaurant? Your plan for grabbing customers’ attention is vital to getting diners through the door, especially at the beginning before word-of-mouth advertising has taken off.

What kind of offers will you provide? Will you have promotional events, direct mail, or a social media strategy? Go through your planned marketing campaigns and explain how each of them will help secure your target market. 

A word of advice: Overwhelmed by the thought of marketing your restaurant? Check out our top 9 restaurant marketing strategies.

8. Takeout and delivery options

If you’ve decided to have takeout and delivery at your restaurant—pretty important for most target markets—decide whether you’ll use your own drivers or a professional fleet like Uber Eats or DoorDash.

Show how you’ll provide the smooth digital experience your customers will expect. Decide if and how your website will come into play, bearing in mind that in 2023, 40% of consumers preferred to order directly from the restaurant website.

9. Financial projections

Your restaurant’s projected budget need to be solid, especially if you’re using your business plan to get startup funds. Without a budget, investors have no way of knowing if your business is a good investment or when it will become profitable.

One way to make sure your projections are rock solid is to hire an experienced accountant with expertise in running restaurants. Make sure you’re keeping track of market research, planned costs, and projected income. Show how investor funds will be used and whether you’ll be putting up collateral to get a loan. You’ll also score bonus points with a sales forecast for the next five years. Make sure to include a break-even analysis!

One free restaurant business plan template, coming up. 

As the team behind Homebase, we know how much there is to consider when you’re starting a new restaurant. We’re proud to be an all-in-one partner for thousands of restaurants large and small—helping make everything from staffing, to scheduling, to team communication easier for business owners.

And we know that your restaurant business plan is a high-stakes document. That’s why we created our free restaurant business plan template to make sure nothing gets overlooked.

Check out our free, downloadable template to get your ideas into shape, get started on your restaurant journey—and get investors excited to jump on board with you. 

Download your restaurant business plan template for free: Restaurant business plan + free template PDF

Or, download the Word version here: Homebase restaurant business plan + free template (2024)

 

Restaurant business plan template FAQs

What is the basic planning document for a successful restaurant?

The basic planning document for successful restaurants is a restaurant business plan. A restaurant business plan lays out a restaurant’s long and short-term goals and its plans for achieving those goals. Restaurant planners use it both to finetune their ideas and to secure investor funding.

How to write a restaurant business plan.

When writing a restaurant business plan, include an executive summary, a detailed restaurant description, market analysis research, a sample menu, a breakdown of your business structure, the design and location of your restaurant, your planned takeout and delivery options, your marketing strategy, and your financial projections.

What makes a business plan template for restaurants different from a standard business plan?

A restaurant business plan template differs from a standard business plan by including things like menu engineering, interior design, kitchen operations, front-of-house management, takeout and delivery offerings, and location analysis, which are unique to the food service industry.

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