Fast Casual Restaurant Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

A juicy, succulent burger that guests crave isn’t enough to make a fast-casual burger business thrive. What else is needed for success?

A juicy, succulent burger that guests crave isn’t enough to make a fast-casual burger business thrive.

It all begins, not just with the concept and the dream, but with the fast-casual restaurant business plan. This document will be your high-level roadmap for how you plan to succeed—not just to guide your business, but to demonstrate its viability to investors or financial institutions that their investment or loan is a smart bet.

The U.S. Small Business Administration does an excellent job of outlining the key sections of a traditional business plan, which apply squarely to fast-casual restaurants. These components include the executive summary, the company description, the market analysis, organization and management, your product or service line, your marketing and sales plan, the funding request (if applicable), financial projections, and an appendix of supporting documents.

Executive Summary

No doubt you’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about what you’ll have on your fast-casual menu, what your unique value proposition will be, and many other aspects of your forthcoming venture. All this research and planning will populate your business plan.

The Executive Summary kicks it off as your “elevator pitch.” This is your chance to layout your vision for your restaurant, its service level and atmosphere, your menu concepts, staffing needs, location, and more.

You will go into deeper detail about each of these elements in the rest of the document. But, first, you need to present an easily digestible—and attention-grabbing—summary.

Company Description

The Company Description is also a type of summary section, serving up an outline of what will be fleshed out in the coming sections. It should include your business name, planned location, legal structure, management team, products and services, mission statement, target market, point of difference, and any other mentions of what comes in the rest of the document.

Market Analysis

Here you will draw upon your market research. Who will your main competitors be? Are they all fast-casual restaurants, or do they include casual dining and fast food places?

Where are they located in relation to your business? Which ones are independent, and which are franchises? In what aspects are they lacking, and how will you fill a need they don’t meet?

What neighborhoods and businesses are nearby?

Organization and Management

Share details about the key players in your new business. Give a brief background and talk up the skill sets up your manager(s) and any other staff you have already chosen.

In the restaurant world, you will want to profile the chef who is engineering your menu. Describe his venue and any success stories from his experience.

This section is also where you can describe which business entity you will use—corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship, etc.

Service or Product Line

This section should paint a picture of your product and what makes it stand out. What will be your unique menu items or style of service? Will you brand yourself around a new twist on an old culinary favorite?

If you will be using any special or theatrical equipment in cooking, talk about that here.

Convince readers (including lenders) that what you will offer is unique and worth investing in.

Marketing and Sales

Before sitting down to draft your fast-casual restaurant business plan, you should have gathered data on your potential customer base. This section is your opportunity to explain how you plan to market to them.

Have some fun here sharing your branding, including logos, slogans, and other ideas.

Outline any social media and advertising plans, technology such as proprietary apps or online marketing, and more.

Include your pricing strategy, plans for promotional discounts, and any ideas you have for garnering repeat business.

Funding Request

If you’ve done a good job with the previous sections of your business plan, your reader should be duly impressed with your concept and perfectly prepared for your funding pitch.

Set forth what you’ll need for your initial investment, which may include franchise fees; real estate costs; labor, equipment, rent, and inventory costs; front-end capital for operating until you achieve break-even; and any other line items. Explain what each is for and persuade the reader of their necessity.

Financial Projections

Before investing or approving you for financing, your reader or lender will want to know the likelihood that they will benefit.

In this section, share your projections. Perhaps you break it down month-by-month for the first year of operation, including how you plan to incrementally absorb startup costs and work toward break-even.

The data presented should demonstrate that over time you will become profitable and then continue to grow.


The sections of your business plan should each be relatively brief and concise to maintain the reader’s interest. Greater detail about each subject area should be organized in the Appendix, for the reader to explore at their leisure.

Here, you can also include primary documents such as business articles supporting the trends and ideas you set forth, business formation documents, and extended bios of management.

As your business plan takes shape, you will find that getting it all organized in one document isn’t just persuasive for lenders; it will also solidify your own resolve that the endeavor is just as promising as you already knew it was.

If you are looking at starting a fast-casual franchise such as Wayback Burgers, rather than an independent restaurant, you will already feel reassured from the brand’s track record. The franchisor will also help significantly with the information and research you need for your business plan.

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