How to Make a Restaurant Budget

One of the trickier aspects of opening up a new restaurant is figuring out an adequate budget. Even experienced restaurant owners and managers can be way over or under on given budget items or sometimes just miss certain items that should have been included in the budget. That said, a carefully thought-out and planned budget is an essential part of a restaurant business plan, and putting in the time to make a comprehensive budget up front can save a great deal of time and expense later.

Create a list of categories of expenses. Start with basic categories like mortgage- or lease-related expenses, utilities, licenses and permits, employee-related expenses, equipment costs, food expenses, marketing and so forth, and then take a few hours to mull and brainstorm to make sure you are covering the details.

Include a miscellaneous expense category. Even if you are operating on a relatively tight budget, it is important to have at least a small miscellaneous expenses category. Otherwise you are almost guaranteeing that you will not be able to stick to your budget.

Research the amount you will need for each category of your budget. Many expenses like rent, utilities and employee hourly costs are highly predictable, but some others, like food or marketing expenses, can vary significantly over a relatively short period of time. Therefore, consider certain budget items more flexibly and/or plan to revisit those categories quarterly instead of annually.

Complete your budget by adding the amounts needed for each budget category and totaling up all the categories. Most business plans create an annual budget, but especially for a new restaurant business, consider preparing quarterly or even monthly budgets so you can get a real feel for all of the expenses involved in operating a restaurant.


  • It is important to include at least some funds for marketing your restaurant in your budget. Word of mouth will certainly help business in the long run, but you also need some kind of marketing/advertising to get your name in the public eye.