Skip to main content

7 Steps to Building a Restaurant Business Plan


It’s a dream for many, fueled by passion and a love for delicious food. But before you dive headfirst into the world of sizzling grills and clinking glasses, there’s one crucial step you’ll need do take before anything else craft a solid restaurant business plan.  
Think of it as the secret sauce that binds your vision, strategy, and financial projections into a mouthwatering recipe for success. Opening a restaurant can become extremely expensive fairly quickly. On average, the cost of opening a restaurant is anywhere from $100 to $800 per square foot. (Fresh Books) So you’re going to want to plan ahead and budget costs.  

Here are the 3 highlights we’ll cover that are necessary ingredients for your restaurant business plan: 

  1. Find your flavorful concept. This is what will set your restaurant apart from the rest.  
  1. Identify who your customers are going to be. We’re going to cover how to research your customers like a seasoned chef studying their spices. 
  1. What is your menu and operations going to look like? You’ll need an amazing menu and layout for BOH operations.   

Let’s start with the basics

A restaurant business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines all aspects of starting and running a restaurant. It serves as a roadmap for a restaurant’s overall success, providing a detailed overview of the concept, target market, operational plan, financial projections, marketing strategy, and more.  

According to a study done by Cornell University the number one reason restaurants fail is due to the lack of vision. A well-written business plan is essential for not only securing financing from banks, investors, or other sources but the longevity of your restaurant. HungerRush has been helping restaurants for over two decades so let’s turn your dreams into reality, here are the key ingredients we’ve found that make a business plan truly sizzle. 

Step 1 – Choose a Restaurant Concept, Create a Vision

What makes your restaurant unique? It’s not just the food (although that’s important too!). Define your concept, the essence that sets you apart. Is it a cozy bistro with globally inspired tapas? A lively gastropub with craft beers? Describe your target audience and the experience you want to create. This is your restaurant’s story, told on paper. You’ll want to be sure to specify this in your restaurant business plan right from the start. 

Step 2 – Research Your Customers & Know Your Spice Level 

Every successful restaurant understands its market. Research your target demographics, their spending habits, and their dining preferences. You can join local Facebook groups to help you have a better understanding of your customers while monitoring their reviews from restaurants and establishments they frequent. Analyze your competition, their strengths and weaknesses, and any potential opportunities or challenges in your chosen location. You can leverage this information from articles that cover industry trends, case studies, and restaurant statistic like the National Restaurant Association.

Be the chef who knows exactly what their customers crave by allowing yourself to be the customer in your area. You can also do this by looking up ratings in your local area and becoming more involved in your community. 

Step 3 – Decide on a Menu & Operations 

Now, let’s talk food! Describe your menu in detail, highlighting signature dishes, pricing strategies, and any dietary considerations. It’s helpful to have a POS that is intuitive with order input to improve your overall customers experience. The average order time at counter service restaurants is around 120 seconds. Every second is crucial when you’re looking to drastically reduce the time taken. Any time wasted hurts the speed of service and your bottom line.

This is something to consider when picking out the right tech. You’ll also want to outline your kitchen operations, including equipment needs, staffing plans, and food preparation processes. Consider the impact of delivery and takeout options on your menu and operations. Dive deeper into delivery efficiency here. Remember, a smooth kitchen is a happy kitchen (and a happy restaurant!).

Step 4 – Create Realistic Financial Projections

This might seem like the dry ingredient, but it’s essential! Create realistic financial projections, including start-up costs, operating expenses, and revenue forecasts. Consider factors like rent, payroll, food costs, marketing expenses, and even unexpected hiccups. Demonstrate your understanding of profitability and break-even points. Remember, a strong financial foundation is key to long-term success.

Step 5 – Use Marketing to Spice Up Your Sales

How will you attract hungry customers? Outline your marketing and sales plan, focusing on digital channels, social media engagement, and community partnerships. When starting up your business you won’t have many helping hands to take on all that will need to be done so be sure to look into shifting that work onto automation. We dive deeper on this topic in our blog about how you can Outsource Restaurant Marketing without Breaking the Bank .

Something else to consider are loyalty programs, promotional campaigns, and leveraging the power of online reviews. We all know loyal customers spend more (67% more to be exact). But what are the best practices for capturing loyalty and rewards programs? Learn more here. Don’t forget the human touch – building relationships with your community is essential!

Step 6 – Who is Going to Manage the Secret Sauce? (Management & Team)

Who’s behind the magic? Introduce your core team and their qualifications. Highlight your management experience and leadership skills. Demonstrate your ability to build a strong, motivated team that shares your vision. Remember, your team is the heart and soul of your restaurant, so choose wisely!

Step 7 – Think for the Future and Outline Long Term Goals

While you’re busy opening your doors, it’s wise to consider the future. Briefly outline your long-term goals, whether it’s expansion or potential sale. This shows your commitment and forward-thinking approach. Remember, a well-defined exit strategy can add value to your business plan.

Ready to whip up your own winning recipe? Create your own restaurant business plan template on Canva with one of their templates that you can easily build and customize! Also, remember, HungerRush is here to support you every step of the way. From POS systems to marketing tools, we offer the resources and expertise to help your restaurant thrive. Now let’s get cookin! 

The post 7 Steps to Building a Restaurant Business Plan appeared first on HungerRush.