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Running a Restaurant/Preparing a business plan - determining costs and finding sample spreadsheets


I'm looking into starting a small fast casual restaurant and am putting together a business plan. I have two questions.

First, as someone with virtually no experience running a restaurant, how would you suggest I go about determining costs? Do I need to actually form a business to get suppliers to take me seriously? Or are there websites out there (I've had a lot of trouble finding them) that provide wholesale pricing information.

Second, I've been building a spreadsheet to records expected costs and expenses but I have to think there are sample Excel documents out there, readily available, done by people with a lot more experience. Any idea where I can find something like that?

Thanks for your help.

Hi Jim,

Starting a new concept is a daunting task, even for industry veterans.  For someone with little or no restaurant management experience I would STRONGLY suggest that you get help - whether from us or another consultant.  This is what we do.  We are working with three different clients right now starting new concepts in three different parts of the country.

That being said, in order to get "live" costs from a major supplier you will either need to be credible in that you have a location and/or are in the construction process or have contacts within a major supplier such as Sysco, US Foods, etc. that will share their "street pricing" with you.

One of the services that we offer is to create a set of interlinked spreadsheets that address the following: Start-up costs (including all anticipated furniture, fixtures and equipment, in-fill or construction, POS system, signage, tax bonds, prepaid deposits, insurance etc.  And believe me, we think of all the little things that you will spend money on before opening that you probably have not thought of yet.  The next interlinked sheet is a debt-service worksheet.  Once we know start-up cost estimates, we can (with your input) determine the amount of money you would need to invest and/or borrow.  From that we can calculate your monthly obligation.  Next comes occupancy costs.  Whether you are buying a building or leasing, you will have monthly costs that you must address.  These will vary dependent upon the square footage requirements of your concept.  Next comes a seating and sales worksheet.  We estimate transaction averages, takeout versus dine-in percentages, daily guest counts by day part, etc. all based upon your seating and other factors (drive-thru versus no drive-thru, etc.) and come up with very realistic sales projections.  Next comes labor cost estimates - broken out by job position on a daily, weekly and annual basis with allowances for the average wage in your geographic area.  ALL of these spreadsheets tie together into your Pro Forma.  We address food costs, all operating costs, etc. to create a very, very detailed snapshot of your projected profit and loss.  We can determine your break even point and play "what if" scenarios by varying the size of the building, number of seats, check averages etc.  A change in any key data will flow through to the entire sheet.  Doing something like this even before you create a formal Business Plan is the first step in determining how realistic your concept is. If your concept passes this "acid" test then you can move on to a formal business plan, creating the concept documents, menu, recipes, operations manual, training materials, marketing plans etc.  These are all things that we often do for entrepreneurs like yourself.

If you are interested, I can put together a proposal for you. I would also be happy to send you a restaurant profit and loss template that we use.  No charge, no obligation.  I will just need your email address.  If you would like to schedule a no fee, no pressure phone call just to tell me more about your concept idea, I would be happy to do that.  Again, no pressure.  My contact info is below!

Foster and Associates
(417) 877-0428 (office)
(417) 849-1903 (cell)

Running a Restaurant

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David Foster


We have been in the restaurant industry for over 40 years and consult with restaurants, casinos and hotels nationwide. We love helping restaurant operators succeed and can answer any questions related to restaurant start-ups, business plans, operations, labor costs, food costs, liquor costs, employee turnover, marketing etc.


I am a seasoned foodservice veteran with nearly 42 years experience in the industry. My extensive background includes overseeing multi-unit, multi-concept restaurant operations ranging from cafeterias to fine dining, and everything in between. I have a strong hands-on operations and marketing background that give me a unique insight into the “Real World” challenges of the restaurant industry. I have extensive concept development, menu and recipe development and kitchen layout and design expertise. I am effective in analyzing operational needs and identifying practical solutions in today’s very dynamic foodservice environment. In the industry, I am respected by my peers and have served on the Board of Directors of the Missouri Restaurant Association and have been a featured speaker on the subject of Home Meal Replacement at various national events. I also served on the Culinary Advisory Board of the Ozark Technical College as well as serving on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Ozarks.

Member of the National Restaurant Association, Past Board Member of the Missouri Restaurant Association, Past Board Member of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Ozarks

The Consultant, Seasoned Views (a trade magazine for the restaurant industry)

Attended Drury College, Springfield, MO, Varsity Management, SRI

Awards and Honors
I have had restaurant projects featured in The Consultant (a magazine for foodservice consultants with worldwide circulation). I was honored for achieving the highest level of management competence by the Selection Research Institute.

Past/Present Clients
Sugar Creek Casino, Classic Rock Coffee Company, Mark Twain Brewing Company, Springfield Brewing Company, Bruegger's Bagels, M&M Grill, Paco Joe's, Holiday Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Buffalo Run Casino, Golden Corral Corporation, Crosswinds Café, Chinese Chef, Mr. Dunderbak's Old World Market & Café, Bullfeather’s Wings and Grille, Mainstreet Market, Bear Rock Café, Cartoon's Oyster Bar & Grill, T's Redneck Roadhouse, Jim's Steakhouse, Neighbor's Mill Bakery & Café, Crazy Vine, San Francisco Oven, Maria's Mexican Restaurant, Andy's Frozen Custard, The Granite Club, Umi Japanese Steak, Seafood and Sushi, Springfield Grocer Company, US Foodservice, Premium Standard Farms, Smithfield, Dakota Organic, Kraft Foods, Allens, Inc.

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