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How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

Learn how to write a business plan for a restaurant from restaurateur Paul Bolles-Beaven in this Howcast video.


Whenever you want to create something that's very complex and the stakes are quite high it's a very good idea to put all your thoughts on paper before you actually do anything. In the restaurant world that would be called a business plan.

So, what is a business plan? Simply put, it's all of the aspects of your restaurant written down. What's your concept? How do you want it to feel? What does it look like? What's the food going to be like? What are the beverage selections going to be like? How big is it going to be? How's it going to be staffed? How is it going to make money? What are the expenses going to be? What's it going to cost to build? What's it going to cost, and how much time is it going to take to pay off any debt or repay investors? It's a huge paper document that puts all of your thoughts and all of your ideas in concrete form on the page.

You're going to need a business plan if you're going to seek investors or seek a loan for your business. Because they're going to want to see in black and white what the idea is and what it could mean for them financially.

Both when you're writing a business plan and after you've written a draft of your business plan, it's very important to get advice from people who are experts in that particular area. So, it might be important to have an architect or a designer involved as you write the description of the restaurant and how it looks and feels. It might be very important to have an accountant look at your financial projections and the numbers that you write down to show how the business will operate financially.

It certainly will be very important to make sure that you get people's opinions, people that you trust, about the description of the food, the beverages, and how the place is going to feel. It may be obvious to you when you write it down, but it may not be obvious to someone who reads it. You need to get people involved and get their opinions. Be open minded, listen to what they have to say, and adjust your business plan as needed.

One way to think about your business plan is that it can be your de facto opening budget for your restaurant financially. Therefore, it will be very important to be as detailed as possible. How many seats your restaurant will have will determine how many guests can eat in your restaurant - will determine how many covers, as they're called, you'll do each day. The menu pricing will determine the check average or how much each person will spend. Once you have the number of covers and the check average you know how much revenue you're going to be making.

All of that information, all of the expenses. Will you have linen, or will you have bare tables? Will you have flowers or not? What kind of silverware and plateware will you have? Will it be paper napkins or linen napkins? All of those decisions lead to costs. The more detailed, exact, and well thought out your business plan is the more helpful it will be in making you successful in your opening year.

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