A Guide to a Restaurant's Ideal Profit Margin for Food

September 2, 2021

A Guide to a Restaurant's Ideal Profit Margin for Food 

Ideal Profit Margin for Food 

The food business is notoriously tough. It is difficult to make a profit when you are trying to satisfy your customers with high-quality ingredients while at the same time not overcharging. In this post, we will explore what an ideal restaurant food margin is and how to calculate it so that you can have an easier time managing your business and know exactly where you stand financially.  

A Guide to a Restaurant's Ideal Profit Margin for Food  

The range for restaurant profit margins typically spans anywhere from 0-15% but the average is 3.5%. The margin varies depending on several distinct factors, such as location and type of cuisine served. 

The ever-changing cost to operate restaurants in today's climate often leaves many chefs wondering how they can make ends meet while keeping up with high industry standards that have been set by customers who expect quality food item at an affordable price point; this means operating some establishments with hardly any profits whatsoever or making do with razor-thin ones if there are any leftover after expenses! 

Understanding profit margins is a vital skill to the success of any restaurant business and common restaurant operations. Without knowing how their average restaurant profit margin can be calculated, why it is important to any business model, or what they are meant for, then restaurant owners could face challenging times and tough decisions in managing them, regardless of the restaurant size. Understanding the typical restaurant margin, processing payments, profit margin calculation, having controllable expenses, and ensuring industry average faster service, are especially important for a restaurant's revenue stream. 

What’s A Typical Restaurant Margin? 

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, and there are multiple factors that determine a restaurant’s ability to be profitable and the average restaurant revenue. However, a restaurant's maximum profit margin is typically around 15%, although most restaurants only see an average of 3-5% profit margin range. Although this may seem low compared to other industries, it is because restaurants are impacted by what is commonly referred to as the big three expenses, namely: labor, overheads, and cost of goods sold. 

As a result, many restaurants work to the 30,30,30,10 rule, which looks something like this: 

  • 30% food costs 
  • 30% labor 
  • 30% overhead expenses 
  • 10% profit 

Average Restaurant Profit Margins By Type Of Establishment 

Full-Service Restaurants 

For a full-service restaurant, a net profit margin of between 3-5% is achievable. The size, location, and turnover rate can also increase these figures. If you are heading into this type of food service industry, a net profit margin of between 3-5% should be achievable. Despite this, the size, location, and turnover rate could increase that figure. Energy costs, operating costs, labor costs, overhead costs, and other restaurant expenses are taken into consideration before arriving at this analysis of restaurant profit. 

Food Trucks 

One of the most profitable types of restaurants is the much-loved food truck that is now a firm fixture at events and on city streets. Get it super-right and you could be looking at a profit margin of up to 40%, although the ‘take-home cash’ in such instances is likely to be low compared to other restaurant models in this list. On average, food trucks tend to enjoy a 6-9% profit margin, even during the slow times.  

Fast Food And Quick Service 

The high turnover nature of these operations tends to result in fewer kitchen staff required, cheaper food and menu items, and smaller retail spaces, than other types of endeavors in the restaurant industry (and indeed other catering businesses). Yet, they still ensure an excellent customer experience. As a result, the average profit of fast food and quick-service restaurants can vary between 6-9%, which is above the industry average. 


Casual cafe businesses are seen as a negligible risk due to their increased mass appeal among millennials and the growing remote workforce. As a result, if you get it right, a cafe could enjoy 20% profitability. The catch? Those high profits are likely to occur in phases as demand fluctuates and competition forces continual innovation. 

Cloud Kitchens 

This is a new concept, but one made possible thanks to the abundance of food delivery services. Once again, such operations are hampered by large commission fees -which can be anywhere up to 30% - from those delivery companies, but thanks to fewer staff requirements and the absence of a dine-in option, profits can hover above average. 


Just like food trucks, catering businesses have low overheads. However, the difference is that high-end caterers can make as much as 15% while others might only be able to manage 8%. 

Tips To Increase Your Profit Margin For Food 

The following are ways you can increase your profit margin for food: 

Spend Less Money On Food 

Restaurateurs that are serious about increasing their profit margin for food must undertake a thorough audit of their whole supply chain. Simply knowing how much your ingredients cost and whether it is possible to prepare the same wonderful dishes for less money is all you need to know. 

Once you have figured out where your money is going, it is time to talk to your vendors about their products and services. Primarily, inquire about a discount. Instead of a direct discount (supplier margins are razor low as well, leaving little space to maneuver for many), consider rearranging your order to reduce expenses wherever possible. Delivery of large orders may be reduced in frequency, and the quality of your ingredients may be slightly reduced because of this. 

Reduce Food Waste 

Ensure that none of it ends up in the garbage. Reducing food waste across your whole operation can have a considerable influence on your bottom-line revenues. In the kitchen, develop a laser focus on reducing food waste. Insist that your chefs and prep team measure or weigh all their ingredients. Create a culture in which food waste is unacceptable. 

Add More Seating 

If space is available, make use of it. Adding more seats does not affect the eating experience for the rest of the guests; rather, each additional seat represents a new source of revenue. 

Menu Item Evaluation 

Increasing the number of menu items available does not always increase total sales and profit margin for food. Having an excessive number of menu items might have a detrimental influence on your net profit margin by increasing unnecessary food prices and increasing food waste at your restaurant. Check your food expenses and labor costs for each menu item regularly to ensure that the overall sales and total revenue generated by a given item justify the item's continuous inclusion on your menu. 

Online Advertising 

Social media and customer evaluations may make the difference between a consumer choosing your restaurant or one of your competitors. More customers investigate restaurants before visiting them than any other industry category, with 90 percent of diners researching before visiting a restaurant. 

Increase sales by establishing a strong social media presence, and constantly reply to customer evaluations placed on third-party review sites on time to maintain a positive customer experience. Customer reviews can also be an excellent source of information on how to enhance restaurant operations as well as the overall customer service experience. 

Loyalty Program 

When it comes to increasing total sales at your restaurant, a loyalty program is a low-cost option. Some restaurants even incorporate a client's social media profiles into their loyalty program, which can aid in the promotion and the expansion of the restaurant's customer base overall. 

BNG Point-of-Sale are POS solutions that improve your bottom line. With a full selection of POS systems for bars, restaurants, and retail businesses, you'll find the right tool to grow your business with the personalized support you need. Connect with us HERE to learn more.

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