How Restaurants Make Money: A Guide For Beginners

Being a chef for more than ten years has given me firsthand experience in how restaurants make money. From menu design to price setting, I have learned how to create a profitable restaurant business.

One of the most important lessons I have learned is that creating value for the customer is the key to success. The food and service quality must exceed the customer’s expectations, and if done correctly, this will drive sales and loyalty.

Internal cost controls are also vital, where every dollar counts, from the labor cost to the food cost. When managed effectively, those numbers would drive the bottom line and increase the restaurant’s profit.

Read on for the full guide on how restaurants make money in simple terms with no jargon from a chef’s perspective and experience!

Revenue and Costs

Restaurant seating area.
Restaurant seating area.

The first step in understanding how restaurants make money is to examine their revenue and costs. A restaurant’s revenue is the money earned from selling food and drinks, while its costs are the expenses incurred in running the business.


Restaurants generate revenue by selling food and drinks. They can increase their revenue by:

  • Adding new menu items that appeal to customers
  • Offering specials and deals to attract customers
  • Focusing on customer satisfaction to increase repeat business
  • Offering catering and delivery services to expand their customer base

However, restaurants must also consider the costs involved in generating this revenue.


Running a restaurant is expensive, and many factors can impact a restaurant’s costs. Some of the significant costs that restaurants face include:

  • Food and beverage costs: the cost of purchasing ingredients and items for the menu
  • Labor costs: the cost of paying employees, including wages, benefits, and taxes
  • Rent and utility costs: the cost of the space, equipment, and utilities required to run the restaurant
  • Marketing and advertising costs: the cost of promoting the restaurant to potential customers
  • Insurance and other miscellaneous costs: the cost of protecting the restaurant and its assets and other unforeseeable expenses.

To maintain profitability, restaurants must balance their revenue and costs to ensure that they are generating enough income to cover their expenses.

Factors That Contribute To Restaurant Success

Many factors contribute to the success of restaurants, including:

Strategic Location

Choosing a strategic location is a significant factor in a restaurant’s success.

A location with high foot traffic or easy access from major roads can attract more customers.

Competitive Pricing and Menu Design

Competitive pricing and menu design are crucial in attracting and retaining customers.

Customers are more likely to choose restaurants that offer excellent value for their money.

Customer Service

Outstanding customer service can set a restaurant apart from its competitors.

Positive customer experiences lead to repeat business, positive online reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations.

Effective Marketing

Effective marketing can help restaurants reach potential customers.

Restaurants can use various marketing channels, including social media, print advertising, and word-of-mouth marketing.

Challenges All Restaurants Face

Running a restaurant comes with various challenges. Some of the significant challenges include:

High Overhead Costs

Restaurants have high overhead costs, such as rent, equipment, utilities, and labor costs. Managing these costs requires excellent budgeting skills and negotiating with suppliers to reduce costs.

Changing Consumer Preferences

Consumer preferences and taste can change rapidly, forcing restaurants to adapt their menus and offerings to remain competitive.

Labor Shortages

Due to the labor-intensive nature of the restaurant industry, labor shortages can negatively impact a restaurant’s profitability, forcing it to pay higher wages to retain employees or reduce service quality.


What Are The Primary Sources Of Revenue For Restaurants?

The primary sources of revenue for restaurants are food and beverage sales, catering services, and delivery services.

How Do Restaurants Calculate Their Food Costs?

Restaurants calculate their food costs by adding up the cost of ingredients needed to make menu items and dividing the total cost by the number of servings.

What Is The Average Profit Margin For Restaurants?

The average profit margin for restaurants is around 3-5%.


As a chef, I am aware of the challenges that come with running a restaurant. Success requires hard work, dedication, and a deep understanding of how to balance all aspects of the business.

However, with a passion for excellent food and service, and a commitment to success, running a profitable restaurant can be a very rewarding experience.

Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.