stars "Sling allowed Union Square Hospitality Group to schedule smarter instead of harder." - Bradley K., USHG

Restaurant Business Plan: What To Include, Plus 8 Examples

Busy bar area of a restaurant

Do you want to ensure the success of your new foodservice endeavor? Write a restaurant business plan.

In this article, the experts at Sling tell you why a business plan is vital for both new and existing businesses and give you tips on what to include.

What Is A Restaurant Business Plan?

Man looking at charts on a wall for his restaurant business plan

At its most basic, a restaurant business plan is a written document that describes your restaurant’s goals and the steps you will take to make those goals a reality.

This business plan also describes the nature of the business itself, financial projections, background information, and organizational strategies that govern the day-to-day activity of your restaurant.

Why Is A Restaurant Business Plan Important?

Empty fine-dining restaurant

A restaurant business plan is vital for the success of your endeavor because, without one, it is very difficult — sometimes even impossible — to obtain funding from an investor or a bank.

Without that all-important starting or operational capital, you may not be able to keep your doors open for long, if at all.

Even if funding isn’t a primary concern, a business plan provides you — the business owner or manager — with clear direction on how to translate general strategies into actionable plans for reaching your goals.

The plan can help solidify everything from the boots-on-the-ground functional strategy to the mid-level business strategy all the way up to the driving-force corporate strategy.

Think of this plan as a roadmap that guides your way when things are going smoothly and, more importantly, when they aren’t.

If you want to give your restaurant the best chance for success, start by writing a business plan.

Questions To Ask First

Man on laptop writing a restaurant business plan

Sitting down to write a restaurant business plan can be a daunting task.

As you’ll see in the What To Include In An Effective Restaurant Business Plan section below, you’ll need a lot of information and detail to ensure that the final document is both complete and effective.

Instead of starting with word one, it is hugely beneficial to answer a number of general questions first.

These questions will help you narrow down the information to include in your plan so the composition process feels less difficult.

The questions are:

  • What problem does the business’s product or service solve?
  • What niche will the business fill?
  • What is the business’s solution to the problem?
  • Who are the business’s customers?
  • How will the business market and sell its products to them?
  • What is the size of the market for this solution?
  • What is the business model for the business?
  • How will the business make money?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • How will the business maintain a competitive advantage?
  • How does the business plan to manage growth?
  • Who will run the business?
  • What makes those individuals qualified to do so?
  • What are the risks and threats confronting the business?
  • What can you do to mitigate those risks and threats?
  • What are the business’s capital and resource requirements?
  • What are the business’s historical and projected financial statements?

Depending on your business, some of these questions may not apply or you may not have applicable answers.

Nevertheless, it helps to think about, and try to provide details for, the whole list so your finished restaurant business plan is as complete as possible.

Once you’ve answered the questions for your business, you can transfer a large portion of that information to the business plan itself.

We’ll discuss exactly what to include in the next section.

What To Include In An Effective Restaurant Business Plan

Man mapping out a restaurant business plan

In this section, we’ll show you what to include in an effective restaurant business plan and provide a brief example of each component.

1) Executive Summary

You should always start any business plan with an executive summary. This gives the reader a brief introduction into common elements, such as:

This portion of your plan should pique the reader’s interest and make them want to read more.

Example

Fanty & Mingo’s is a 50-seat fine-dining restaurant that will focus on Sweruvian (Swedish/Peruvian) fusion fare.

We will keep overhead and labor costs low thanks to simple but elegant decor, highly skilled food-prep staff, and well-trained servers.

Because of the location and surrounding booming economy, we estimate ROI at 20 percent per annum.

2) Mission Statement

A mission statement is a short description of what your business does for its customers, employees, and owners.

This is in contrast to your business’s vision statement which is a declaration of objectives that guide internal decision-making.

While the two are closely related and can be hard to distinguish, it often helps to think in terms of who, what, why, and where.

The vision statement is the where of your business — where you want your business to be and where you want your customers and community to be as a result.

The mission statement is the who, what, and why of your business — it’s an action plan that makes the vision statement a reality

Example

Here’s an example of a mission statement for our fictional company:

Fanty and Mingo’s takes pride in making the best Sweruvian food, providing fast, friendly, and accurate service. It is our goal to be the employer of choice and offer team members opportunities for growth, advancement, and a rewarding career in a fun and safe working environment.

3) Company Description

Taking notes on restaurant business plan

In this section of your restaurant business plan, you fully introduce your company to the reader. Every business’s company description will be different and include its own pertinent information.

Useful details to include are:

  • Location
  • Contacts
  • Owner’s details
  • Brief description of their experience
  • Legal standing
  • Short-term goals
  • Long-term goals
  • Brief market study
  • An understanding of the trends in your niche
  • Why your business will succeed in these market conditions

Again, you don’t have to include all of this information in your company description. Choose the ones that are most relevant to your business and make the most sense to communicate to your readers.

Example

Fanty & Mingo’s will start out as an LLC, owned and operated by founders Malcolm Reynolds and Zoe Washburne. Mr. Reynolds will serve as managing partner and Ms. Washburne as general manager.

We will combine atmosphere, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and menu variety to create a unique experience for our diners and to reach our goal of high value in the fusion food niche.

Our gross margin is higher than industry average, but we plan to spend more on payroll to attract the best team.

We estimate moderate growth for the first two years while word-of-mouth about our restaurant spreads through the area.

4) Market Analysis

A market analysis is a combination of three different views of the niche you want to enter:

  • The industry as a whole
  • The competition your restaurant will face
  • The marketing you’ll execute to bring in customers

This section should be a brief introduction to these concepts. You can expand on them in other sections of your restaurant business plan.

Example

The restaurant industry in our chosen location is wide open thanks in large part to the revitalization of the city’s center.

A few restaurants have already staked their claim there, but most are bars and non-family-friendly offerings.

Fanty & Mingo’s will focus on both tourist and local restaurant clientele. We want to bring in people that have a desire for delicious food and an exotic atmosphere.

We break down our market into five distinct categories:

  • High-end singles
  • Families
  • Businessmen and businesswomen
  • Couples
  • Tourists

We will target those markets to grow our restaurant by up to 17 percent per year.

5) Menu

restaurant menu board

Every restaurant needs a good menu, and this is the section within your restaurant business plan that you describe the food you’ll serve in as much detail as possible.

You may not have your menu design complete, but you’ll likely have at least a handful of dishes that serve as the foundation of your offerings.

It’s also essential to discuss pricing and how it reflects your overall goals and operating model. This will give potential investors and partners a better understanding of your business’s target price point and profit strategy.

Example

We don’t have room to describe a sample menu in this article, but for more information on menu engineering, menu pricing, and even a menu template, check out these helpful articles from the Sling blog:

6) Location

In this section, describe your potential location (or locations) so that you and your investors have a clear image of what the restaurant will look like.

Include plenty of information about the location — square footage, floor plan, design, demographics of the area, parking, etc. — to make it feel as real as possible.

Example

We will locate Fanty & Mingo’s in the booming and rapidly expanding downtown sector of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Ideally, we will secure at least 2,000 square feet of space with a large, open-plan dining room and rich color scheme near the newly built baseball stadium to capitalize on the pre- and post-game traffic and to appeal to the young urban professionals that live in the area.

Parking will be available along side streets and in the 1,000-vehicle parking garage two blocks away.

7) Marketing

Chef working in a restaurant

The marketing section of your restaurant business plan is where you should elaborate on the information you introduced in the Market Analysis section.

Go into detail about the plans you have to introduce your restaurant to the public and keep it at the top of their mind.

Example

Fanty & Mingo’s will employ three distinct marketing tactics to increase and maintain customer awareness:

  1. Word-of-mouth/in-restaurant marketing
  2. Partnering with other local businesses
  3. Media exposure

We will direct each tactic at a different segment of our potential clientele in order to maximize coverage.

In the process of marketing to our target audience, we will endeavor to harness the reach of direct mail and broadcast media, the exclusivity of the VIP party, and the elegance of a highly trained sommelier and wait staff.

8) Financials

Even though the Financials section is further down in your restaurant business plan, it is one of the most important components for securing investors and bank funding.

We recommend hiring a trained accountant to help you prepare this section so that it will be as accurate and informative as possible.

Example

Fanty & Mingo’s needs $250,000 of capital investment over the next year and a half for the following:

  • Renovations to leased space
  • Dining room furniture
  • Kitchen and food-prep equipment
  • Liquor license
  • Supplies
  • Legal fees
  • Marketing
  • Staff

Projected profit and loss won’t jump drastically in the first year, but, over time, Fanty & Mingo’s will develop its reputation and client base. This will lead to more rapid growth toward the third and fourth years of business.

How To Format A Restaurant Business Plan

working on restaurant business plan

Most entrepreneurs starting a new business find it valuable to have multiple formats of their business plan.

The information, data, and details remain the same, but the length and how you present them will change to fit a specific set of circumstances.

Below we discuss the four most common business plan formats to cover a multitude of potential situations.

Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a short summary of your restaurant business plan’s executive summary.

Rather than being packed full of details, the elevator pitch is a quick teaser of sorts that you use on a short elevator ride (hence the name) to stimulate interest in potential customers, partners, and investors

As such, an effective elevator pitch is between 30 and 60 seconds and hits the high points of your restaurant business plan.

Pitch Deck

A pitch deck is a slide show and oral presentation that is designed to stimulate discussion and motivate interested parties to investigate deeper into your stakeholder plan (more on that below).

Most pitch decks are designed to cover the executive summary and include key graphs that illustrate market trends and benchmarks you used (and will use) to make decisions about your business.

Some entrepreneurs even include time and space in their pitch deck to demonstrate new products coming down the pipeline.

This won’t necessarily apply to a restaurant business plan, but, if logistics permit, you could distribute small samples of your current fare or tasting portions of new dishes you’re developing.

Stakeholder Plan (External)

A stakeholder plan is the standard written presentation that business owners use to describe the details of their business model to customers, partners, and potential investors.

The stakeholder plan can be as long as is necessary to communicate the current and future state of your business, but it must be well-written, well-formatted, and targeted at those looking at your business from the outside in.

Think of your stakeholder plan as a tool to convince others that they should get involved in making your business a reality. Write it in such a way that readers will want to partner with you to help your business grow.

Management Plan (Internal)

A management plan is a form of your restaurant business plan that describes the details that the owners and managers need to make the business run smoothly.

While the stakeholder plan is an external document, the management plan is an internal document.

Most of the details in the management plan will be of little or no interest to external stakeholders so you can write it with a higher degree of candor and informality.

Efficient Workforce Management Is Essential For Success

Sling app for managing a restaurant business plan

After you’ve created your restaurant business plan, it’s time to take steps to make it a reality.

One of the biggest challenges in ensuring that your business runs smoothly and successfully is managing and optimizing your team. The Sling app can help.

Sling not only includes powerful and intuitive artificial-intelligence-based scheduling tools but also many other features to help make your workforce management more efficient, including:

Sling's scheduling feature

With Sling, you can schedule faster, communicate better, and organize and manage your work from a single, integrated platform. And when you use Sling for all of your scheduling needs, you’ll have more time to focus on bringing your restaurant business plan to life.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.

Get started today

Schedule faster, communicate better, get things done.