Guide To Restaurant P&L Mastery


If you’ve ever pondered the financial well-being of your beloved eatery or harboured dreams of launching your own culinary enterprise, acquiring the ability to understand the nuances of the Restaurant Profit and Loss (P&L) statement is an essential skill. Don’t let the intimidating acronyms scare you; we’re here to break it down in a way that even a fifth-grader can understand.


What is a Restaurant P&L Statement?


Think of a Restaurant P&L statement as the financial report card for a restaurant. It stands for Profit and Loss, and it’s like a snapshot of the restaurant’s economic performance over a specific period – usually a month, quarter, or year. This document reveals how much money the restaurant made, how much it spent, and what’s left as profit.


Start by picking a financial time period, then create a restaurant profit and loss statement. You can do this every week, every four weeks (to develop a 13-period annual report), monthly to have 12 periodic reports, quarterly to have 4 reports or yearly for all in one financial statement. These financial statements must be created consistently to have any effect on your business. Also, reaching your restaurant’s financial objectives by the end of the fiscal year is crucial so you always know how different parts of your business affect costs and sales.


How to Read a Restaurant P&L


Revenue: The Money Maker


At the top of the P&L, you’ll find the revenue section. This is where the money comes in. In simpler terms, it’s the total sales of the restaurant. If a restaurant sells burgers, pizzas, and sodas, the revenue is the combined money earned from selling these items.


Source: The primary source of revenue is obvious – the sales from the restaurant. However, some restaurants may have additional revenue streams, like catering services or merchandise sales.


Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): The Cost of Deliciousness


After revenue, the Restaurant P&L dives into the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). Think of this as the cost of making the food. If a burger costs £5 to make, including the patty, bun, and toppings, that £5 is part of the COGS.


Source: The primary source here is the invoices from suppliers. It includes the cost of ingredients for the dishes the restaurant serves.


Operating expenses


Related articles:

How To Improve Restaurant Profits

Restaurant Inventory Management System

Restaurant Finance Management

Restaurant Management Skills

Restaurant Management Tips


Gross Profit: The First Victory


Subtracting the COGS from the revenue gives us the Gross Profit. This is critical because it tells us how much money is left after covering the direct costs of making and serving the food. A higher gross profit means the restaurant makes more money to cover its other expenses.


Source: Directly calculated from the Revenue and COGS figures.


Operating Expenses: Running the Show


Now, let’s explore the operational aspects. Operating expenses encompass the costs associated with running the restaurant, extending past just the food-related expenses. This incorporates expenditures such as rent, utilities, salaries, marketing, and other day-to-day operational costs. Consider it the entirety of spending essential to maintain the restaurant’s functionality, covering everything from keeping the lights on to ensuring the staff receives their wages.


Source: Invoices, payroll records, and other financial documents track these expenses.


 bottom line


Net Profit: The Bottom Line


Subtracting the operating expenses from the gross profit gives us the Net Profit. This is the bottom line – the amount of money the restaurant has left after covering all its costs. A positive net profit means the restaurant is making money, while a negative one signals trouble.


Source: Calculated by subtracting Operating Expenses from Gross Profit.


Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): The Metrics that Matter


Now that we’ve deciphered the P&L’s main sections of the Restaurant P&L let’s look at some key performance indicators like report card grades for a restaurant.


Food Cost Percentage: This is calculated by dividing the COGS by the total revenue and multiplying by 100. It tells us what percentage of the revenue goes into making the food. A lower percentage is generally better, meaning more money is left over. The COGS can generally range from 28% to 40% of Sales.


Labour Cost Percentage: Calculated by dividing labour costs by total revenue and multiplying by 100, this KPI reveals the portion of income spent on staff salaries. Keeping this percentage in check ensures a healthy balance between labour costs and revenue. Cost of Labour can be as low as 18% to 23% in Fast Food restaurants and from 28% to as much as 35% in fine dining restaurants.


How To Read Restaurant Profit And Loss Statement Masterfully


Operating Profit Margin: 


The Operating Profit Margin is determined by taking the operating profit, dividing it by the total revenue, and then multiplying the outcome by 100. This measurement provides insight into how effectively a restaurant manages its operational expenses. A greater margin signifies improved efficiency in handling these costs, offering an overview of the restaurant’s adeptness in managing its overall operating expenses. The operating expenses could range from 10% to 20% of sales.  A critical factor to consider is ensuring that your rent is no more than 10% of sales.


Net Profit Margin: Similar to operating profit margin, it considers all expenses, not just operational ones. It’s a vital indicator of the overall financial health of the restaurant.


Putting it All Together


Grasping a restaurant’s P&L is comparable to solving a puzzle. Each element, spanning from revenue to net profit, plays a pivotal role in forming a holistic understanding of the restaurant’s financial health.


Sources: Financial statements, invoices, payroll records, and other internal financial documents are the primary sources for P&L information. Industry benchmarks and financial experts provide additional context.


13 Fantastic Strategies To Increase Sales In Restaurant




Let’s break down the financials for the fast-food restaurant in the UK, making £800,000 a year in sales.


Revenue: £800,000

This is the total amount of money the restaurant brings from selling its fast-food items.


Cost of Goods Sold (COS): 30% of Sales

COS is the cost directly associated with producing the food. For this fast-food restaurant, it’s 30% of £800,000.

COS = 0.30 * £800,000 = £240,000

So, the Cost of Goods Sold is £240,000.


Gross Profit: Revenue – COS

Now, subtract the COS from the revenue to find the Gross Profit.

Gross Profit = £800,000 – £240,000 = £560,000

The Gross Profit is £560,000.


Labour Cost: 30% of Sales

Labour cost is the amount spent on staff salaries. For this restaurant, it’s 30% of £800,000.

Labour Cost = 0.30 * £800,000 = £240,000

So, the Labour Cost is £240,000.


Operating Expenses (Fixed + Variable Costs): 10% + 10% of Sales

Fixed costs remain constant, like rent, and variable costs fluctuate with sales, like utilities and marketing. For this restaurant, both combined are 20% of £800,000.

Operating Expenses = 0.20 * £800,000 = £160,000

So, the Operating Expenses are £160,000.


Net Profit: Gross Profit – Operating Expenses

Now, subtract the Operating Expenses from the Gross Profit to find the Net Profit.


Net Profit – £800,000

COGs – £240,000


Gross Profits – £560,000


Labour Cost – £240,000

Operating Expenses – 160,000


Net Profit = £160,000 (Before Taxes)


Operating expenses




Reading a restaurant’s P&L may seem daunting initially, but breaking it down into bite-sized pieces reveals a simple story of income, costs, and profit, just like how a chef combines ingredients to create a delicious dish, a restaurant manager uses the P&L to blend various financial elements into a recipe for success.


Aspiring restaurateurs and food enthusiasts can benefit from demystifying the financial side of the culinary world. By understanding the language of numbers, you can appreciate the financial intricacies that make your favourite restaurant a haven for good food and a thriving business.


Frequently Asked Questions And Answers

How do you read a profit and loss statement for a restaurant?


Start by examining the revenue section at the top, which represents the restaurant’s total sales.

Calculate the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

Subtract the COGS from the revenue to obtain the Gross Profit, indicating how much money is left after covering food costs; this will give you the direct costs associated with producing the food.

Analyse the Operating Expenses, which include rent, utilities, salaries, marketing, and other day-to-day costs.

Subtracting the Operating Expenses from the Gross Profit reveals the Net Profit, providing insight into the restaurant’s overall profitability.


How do you analyse a P&L statement?


Review the revenue section to grasp the total sales. 

Find the Gross Profit by taking away the cost of making the stuff (COGS) from the money that came in.

Analyse Operating Expenses to comprehend the day-to-day operational costs.

Assess the Net Profit by subtracting Operating Expenses from Gross Profit.

Look at key performance indicators like profit margins and ratios to gain deeper insights into the financial performance.


What is a good net profit margin for a restaurant?


An excellent net profit margin for a restaurant typically ranges from 3% to 6%. However, this can vary based on the restaurant’s size, location, and type of cuisine. 

High-end restaurants may have higher net profit margins, while quick-service establishments might have lower margins, which can range from 0% to 15% or even 20% per annum.


It’s essential to consider industry benchmarks and the restaurant’s specific circumstances when evaluating the adequacy of the net profit margin.  If we have wet your appetite for more profit, find out how to increase your restaurant profit here!

How to Improve Restaurant Profits and Increase Restaurant Sales


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.