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How to Prepare a Restaurant Business Plan: Business Concept Section

Joe Erickson

The Business Concept section for a restaurant business plan is one of three primary elements that potential investors will actually read because it answers the question, "What am I investing in?" This section provides an opportunity to create a visual image of your concept in the mind of the reader. This is your chance to get others excited about your concept, enough so that they will ask two more questions, "How much will it cost me?" and "What is my return on investment?"

Investors and bankers, first and foremost, want to be sold on the thought that your business concept is a great idea. They need to be convinced that the concept should succeed in appealing to diners; after all, those reading your plan are diners too.

This section should focus on a detailed description of the concept. There are three components needed in order for your narrative to portray a vivid visual image. First, you should have a detailed description and concept statement. Second, you should provide a sample menu or list of menu ideas; and third, present graphic design  layouts or renderings of the restaurant.

Concept Description and Statement

Writing a vivid concept description is a lot like telling a good friend about a fantastic new restaurant you have visited. The natural tendency will be to tell about all the great dishes the restaurant has to offer. You will be sure to mention interesting design elements, unique furnishings or special attractions. And let's not forget the service. A good descriptive summary of the service style, as well as the promptness, are a necessity in order to properly communicate the conceptual image of the restaurant. Differentiation such as casual-theme or fine dining table service, quick service, buffet, cafeteria or counter service make it necessary clearly define the service style.

The writing style you use should be similar to that of a restaurant critic, albeit one that has only positive things to print about your restaurant. Descriptive remarks about the overall atmosphere you want to project helps to solidify the conceptual picture you are trying to create.

In addition to describing the food, décor and service, your narrative should inform the reader of other key factors such as the restaurant's price point, hours of operation and service style.

Be sure to express any unique selling points or points of differentiation the restaurant may have. Points of difference might include anything from food to décor to entertainment. Typical distinctions are often made for signature dishes, ethnic cuisine new to the area, unique service styles or unusual décor.

The concept statement should inform the reader about the size of the restaurant and the number of seating it holds. Elaborate on amenities such as a bar or banquet room, providing details about additional seating capacity, décor or other significant factors. Illustrate the type of location the concept requires such as a free standing building or a lease space in a shopping center. Describe also the parking conditions and accessibility to the restaurant.

Finally, be sure to enlighten the reader of additional services the restaurant may offer such as catering, delivery or retail merchandise.

Sample Menu

A well written and attractively designed menu sample can help to sell your concept. Whether your concept is a fine dining table service or a quick service fast food restaurant, the menu is your number one selling tool. Customer perception, though influenced by several factors, is largely formed based on the appeal of the menu or menu board.

The sample menu does not have to include everything you will sell, only enough items to give the reader a sense of appetite and expectation. The presentation can depict either a printed menu or a rendering of the menu board.

Menus don't need elaborate design to effectively convey the image of your concept. For instance, the menu for a proposed ice house serving burgers and fries would probably be simple in design, reflecting the casualness of the concept. It might consist of simple typed inserts encased in a laminated menu cover.

Conversely, a fine dining menu might typically be designed by a graphic artist. Much thought would be given to the choice of paper stock and menu covers. The main thing to remember is that the menu should represent the image of your concept.


Architectural drawings, floor plans, and artist renderings will also help sell your concept to the reader. Understandably, not every conceptual plan is far enough along to have architectural drawings. Some business plans are presented with the expectation of finding a site, therefore a meaningful floor plan is not available or even feasible.

The purpose for this section is to convey anything and everything that is part of your concept and that can help create the visual image you want the reader to experience.

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