Sick of vague advice on writing a restaurant business plan?
Struggling to make all the pieces come together?
This guide details exactly what to include in each section of your plan, with a downloadable template PDF and real sample plans to simplify the process.
You’ll have the comprehensive roadmap to launch your restaurant right.
Key Sections of a Small Restaurant Business Plan
A business plan serves as your roadmap as you establish and grow your restaurant.
While you can mold it to your specifications, certain components should be present.
Here are some of the major sections to incorporate.
The executive summary outlines your business goals and how you plan to achieve them. Even though it appears first, it’s often easiest to write this after completing the rest of your plan.
Aim for a 1-2 page overview highlighting your restaurant concept, target market, competition, management team, and projected financials.
- Open with your restaurant concept in one sentence – “Rosie’s Diner is a 50’s themed diner serving classic American comfort food in downtown Springfield.”
- Include the exact address or intersection if you have a location selected.
- Specify your main offerings rather than just cuisine type – “The menu will feature items like juicy burgers, hearty meatloaf, flaky pot pies, thick milkshakes, and fresh apple pie.”
- Share total estimated startup costs based on contractor quotes and equipment sourcing – “Total startup costs are projected at $550,000, including $350,000 for buildout and renovations, $125,000 for key kitchen equipment, $50,000 initial food and beverage inventory, and $25,000 for furnishings and decor.”
- Note specific experience that qualifies you to launch this restaurant, like “The owner has 10 years experience managing diners in the region and a degree in Culinary Arts from ABC Institute.”
- Give concrete first-year financial goals – “The diner is projected to generate $1.2M in revenue and $150k in profit in Year 1 with an average of 250 covers daily at an average check of $18 per person.”
- List strategic partnerships or vendors secured like Sysco for ingredients or Groupon for pre-opening deals.
This section is critical for engaging potential investors.
“There is a growing demand for healthy, organic fare with vegan, gluten-free, and paleo options. As Julie Morris, author of Superfood Kitchen, notes, ‘Diners today prioritize fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients. Restaurants need to adapt menus to cater to these preferences.'”
Your company description provides an overview of key details of your business. Include information like:
- Outline ownership structure – “Rosie’s Diner is registered as an LLC in the state of Oregon with John Smith as 51% owner and Jane Doe as 49% owner.”
- Note years of relevant experience such as “John has 15 years experience managing diners in Portland and Jane has 10 years as a head cook for retro-style cafes.”
- Share mission statement or brand ethos – “Rosie’s mission is to provide fresh, wholesome comfort food with quick friendly service in a charming retro diner atmosphere.”
- If purchasing an existing restaurant, detail transfer terms – “Rosie’s is purchasing Scramblers Diner for $300k with inventory and select equipment included. The current owner will transfer all licenses and permits to continue uninterrupted operation.”
- For growth goals, get specific – “We plan to expand Rosie’s to a second location in Eugene in 2025 once the Portland location is well-established. Future locations will maintain the core menu with some localized specials.”
- Note any community initiatives – “Rosie’s will partner with the Springfield Food Bank, donating 10% of weekly pie sales and excess food inventory to support our neighbors in need.”
- If relevant, provide a brief history – “Rosie’s founder Jane Doe opened the first Rosie’s on Route 66 in Arizona in 2000 before relocating to Oregon. Her passion for quality diner fare sparked this new endeavor.”
This helps readers understand the foundational elements of your operations.
A market analysis examines your business environment. The goal is to determine if there’s room for your restaurant to thrive.
Research your geography and demographics to assess demand. Study competitors to see how you can differentiate. Interview prospective customers to gauge interest in your concept.
The data collected guides your direction by revealing target audiences, pricing ability, busy hours, and similar insights. Omitting this step means operating blindly.
- Pull demographics for a 3-mile radius showing 75k population, median income of $62k, and competitors like Betty’s Cafe, AJ’s Diner, and Pancake Palace.
- Highlight market research insights like “82% of surveyed residents visit a diner 2+ times per month and 76% want more milkshake options.”
- Note market gaps like no diners in the area open after 8 p.m. or with pie shakes.
“Our market research and concept validation interviews indicate customers feel there are not enough family-friendly Italian restaurants in the area. As Marco Bruno, owner of Bruno’s Bistro shares, ‘Families are looking for authentic Italian cuisine with great service but also some entertainment to keep kids engaged. There’s room here for a restaurant catering to that niche.'”
Your business plan should detail how you and your team are qualified to launch and manage the restaurant. Highlight experience and training as applicable.
If you need to bring on more partners or employees, outline those roles and ideal qualifications. Investors want to partner with those demonstrating expertise for restaurant success.
- List owners’ names, roles, and 2-3 bullet point bios conveying experience.
- Specify key hires needed like a head chef with 5+ years diner experience and front-of-house manager.
- If you lack experience in any area, list qualified mentors, coaches, or advisors you will partner with.
“Having an experienced chef at the helm is critical for new restaurants to produce consistent, high-quality cuisine. As chef David Burke advises, ‘Hire a head chef with leadership skills, creativity, and a proven track record of succeeding in the kitchen. They set the tone for the entire operation.'”
Products and Services
Clearly describe your restaurant concept and offerings. Share your theme or cuisine type, bar options, price points, special menus, etc.
If you’ll provide catering or private event services, have dedicated sections on those as well. Thoroughly explain how you’ll execute your vision.
- Give a sample menu with specific items like “Classic Cheeseburger – $12”, “Chicken Pot Pie – $15”, “Vanilla Milkshake – $6”
- List sides, beverages, desserts, kids and seniors menus.
- Describe specials like Friday Fish Fry, Sat. Prime Rib, and Sunday Brunch.
- Note catering offerings and private event spaces if applicable.
A marketing plan depicts how you’ll promote your restaurant to ideal customers. Identify strategies for advertising, social media engagement, specials, loyalty programs, and any partnerships.
Set realistic budgets for each initiative based on local marketing costs and your financial situation.
- Define promotional strategies like social media ads, partnerships with local hotels, direct mail coupons, and PR outreach to local media.
- Set specific goals like getting 10k Instagram followers in Year 1 and running 2 ads per platform per week.
- Allocate budgets like $3k/mo for social ads, $1.5k for branded merchandise, and $2k for signage.
“Social media is integral for restaurants today to reach and engage customers. Sara Brito, CEO of Brito Social Media Consulting says, ‘8 out of 10 diners discover new restaurants on social media. Small businesses must dedicate 15-20% of marketing budgets to digital platforms for success.'”
Your operations plan addresses the logistics of running your restaurant. Detail day-to-day management duties, staffing requirements, vendors/suppliers, technology needs, and general policies.
This helps you strategize for smooth operations while giving investors confidence in your preparation level.
- Outline systems for inventory, ordering, payment processing, scheduling, and customer management.
- Estimate staffing needs like 2 cooks and 4 servers on weekdays and add roles for weekends.
- List specific equipment and vendors secured like POS systems, food suppliers, and beverage distributors.
The financial plan includes startup costs, operating expenses, sales projections, and funding needs. Breakdown costs associated with buildout, equipment, inventory, payroll, rent, etc.
Determine the financing you need to launch and operate until revenue is steady. Share expected profit margins and repayment plans if you have debt.
- Breakdown costs for buildout, equipment, inventory, marketing, labor, rent, etc with real estimates.
- Project monthly and annual sales and profit goals based on market research and capacity.
- Share specific financing terms like an SBA loan of $250k through ABC Bank, repaid over 10 years at 5% interest.
The financials demonstrate the viability and profit potential of your business.
An appendix adds supplementary materials for context.
This can include photos/drawings of your space, menus, licenses/permits, owner resumes, market research data, letters of intent from suppliers, and more.
References build credibility and allow a deeper understanding of your operations.
Download the Small Restaurant Business Plan PDF
To help you get started, you can download a PDF template of a sample business plan tailored for a small restaurant.
It contains placeholders for each section along with explanatory notes on what to include. You can easily customize it by inputting your text and numbers.
Having an example is useful for structuring your document properly. It also ensures you cover all the fundamental components.
Sample Small Restaurant Business Plans
To further illustrate effective business plans, below are excerpts from two restaurant examples:
Example 1: Natalie’s Cafe
“This breakfast and lunch cafe highlights the owner’s experience operating popular restaurants in town.
Their market research showed an unmet need for healthier options in the area.
The marketing plan emphasizes social media engagement and partnerships with local gyms for promotions.”
- This plan excels at clearly conveying the cafe’s unique value proposition of healthy, locally sourced menu options. The market research supports the unmet demand for this positioning.
- The marketing plan is comprehensive with a good mix of partnerships, digital campaigns, and promotions to attract their target customers. The budget allocation seems reasonable.
- While they outline a 3-year growth plan, more detail on future locations, timeline, and financial projections would strengthen it. Plans to scale need concrete facts.
Example 2: Rico’s Pizzeria
“Rico has years of experience as a head chef for Italian restaurants in the city.
His business plan focuses on affordably priced pizza, pasta, and salads in a family-friendly setting.
He has negotiated extensively with vendors to keep food costs low.”
- Rico has clearly leveraged his extensive restaurant experience into the operations plan, especially regarding vendor relationships, inventory management, and cost control. This establishes credibility.
- The menu and price points are well-researched to appeal to families in the area based on competitors and customer interviews.
- The financial plan could be more robust with 3-5 year projections and funding requirements for growth. Investors will want to see the longer-term vision.
- Including photos of menu items and restaurant, design will help bring the concept to life since there is no operating history.
Perusing real samples helps you identify components to model for your own restaurant’s success. Analyze plans in your cuisine niche or area to make the biggest impact.
Next Steps After Completing Your Small Restaurant Business Plan
With your business plan complete, here are the next steps to take:
- Finalize your budget and financing to cover all start-up expenses.
- Start scouting locations and negotiate lease terms if needed.
- Obtain all required licenses, permits, and legal documents.
- Begin designing and outfitting your restaurant space.
- Start the hiring process to build your team.
- Develop your website, online profiles, and pre-opening promotions.
- Connect with vendors and finalize supplier logistics.
- Host soft openings or a VIP launch event.
- Continually review your plan and modify it as needed.
As you begin your entrepreneurial endeavor, let this sample plan and guide set you up for success.
With grit and perseverance, your dream of owning a thriving restaurant can become a reality.
Here’s to bringing your culinary vision to life!
FAQs On Small Restaurant Business Plan
Can You Start a Small Restaurant With $10,000 Dollars?
Yes, it’s possible to start a small restaurant with $10,000, but it would require finding an inexpensive location, buying used equipment, and starting with a limited menu.
How Much Money Should You Have to Open a Small Restaurant?
You should plan to have at least $50,000-$100,000 saved to open a small restaurant once you factor in rent, renovations, equipment, inventory, licensing, and operating expenses for the first few months.
What Do You Need for a Restaurant Business Plan?
A restaurant business plan should include a concept summary, market analysis, management team, menu and pricing, financial projections, marketing strategy, operations plan, and funding requirements.
Is Restaurant a Profitable Business?
Operating a successful, profitable restaurant requires experience, solid business planning, efficient operations, quality food, good marketing, and the ability to adapt to challenges.
How Many Pages Should a Restaurant Business Plan Be?
A restaurant business plan should be around 15-30 pages long, covering all key areas like the concept, market, operations, management, and financial projections in sufficient detail.
Rahul is a former medical student turned business blogger who founded NamesPilot to share his passion for entrepreneurship. After successfully launching several online ventures, he now runs his blog full-time, providing tips and insights to help others build their own businesses.