Profit and Loss Statements for Restaurants

How much money are you actually making at your restaurant? That’s exactly what a restaurant profit and loss statement can tell you.

Let’s break it down by one of the most common menu items in the United States: Pizza. Popular restaurant chain Domino’s charges $17.99 for a large (14”) pepperoni pizza in the Boston area. But Domino’s doesn’t make $17.99 on the pizza. Every pie costs money in ingredients (flour, cheese, sauce, spices, pepperoni), labor (the average MA Domino’s employee makes $16/hour), and packaging (pizza box).

What’s left over after all of those costs is the profit on that particular pizza. And that doesn’t even include fixed costs like rent on the kitchen space, utility and heating, appliances, and other overhead.

Answering the question of how much money you’re making as a restaurant owner can get complicated fast. But whether you’re using a team of accountants or managing the books yourself, you’ll need to put together a profit and loss statement (often shortened to the phrase “P&L”) to tell you just that. Here’s everything you need to know about creating and reading one:

What Is a Restaurant Profit and Loss Statement?

A profit and loss statement provides a record of a restaurant’s financial health by outlining revenue, costs, and expenses during a set period of time — usually over a fiscal year, but it can be more frequent depending on your management style or if you’re part of a public company. Another word for a profit and loss statement is an income statement, because it shows your overall restaurant income for the year.

Your profit and loss statement goes into detail for each revenue and expense to determine your net income, or profit. Here’s the basic equation:

  • Profit = (Total Revenue + Gains) – (Total Expenses + Losses)

A good way to remember this is thinking back to the Domino’s example. At the end of a given pizza, how much of that $17.99 does the restaurant actually see? Profit is ultimately what your restaurant “pockets” at the end of the year after paying for restaurant space, food and beverage supplies, employee wages and tips, and other overhead, like linens, decor, or appliances.

Keeping up a regular P&L statement helps you assess your restaurant’s financial health so you know exactly what’s coming in and what’s coming out — so you can make sure your restaurant stays as profitable as possible.

How Often Should You Update Your Restaurant P&L Statement?

A P&L is one of the building blocks of your restaurant accounting and should be updated on a regular basis, though the exact timing is up to you. Because it’s a helpful snapshot of your restaurant’s financial health, many restaurant owners prepare one weekly or monthly. If you have multiple restaurants, you’ll want to create a profit and loss statement for each individual unit as well as your business as a whole.

Monitoring your P&L gives you insight into:

  • Whether or not your restaurant is profitable — which can take time
  • How to prioritize business decisions, like adding new menu items, changing suppliers, or hiring and staffing
  • Where your “money makers” are on your menu
  • Any inconsistencies or losses that don’t make sense, which is a sign of theft
  • At a minimum, it should be prepared each quarter as part of your quarterly taxes.

Many point-of-sale systems automatically generate P&Ls on an ongoing basis so you can see an updated dashboard of your performance.

What is Included in a Profit and Loss Statement?

Restaurant owners create P&L statements in one of two accounting methods: Cash and accrual.

  • The cash method is the simplest accounting method and focuses on money flowing in and money flowing out. Restaurants record transactions for every cover and record liabilities (expenses and losses) whenever bills come due.
  • The accrual method records revenue as it is earned, rather than when cash is received. This method is more common for businesses that provide services or products, such as retail or software, where customers order in advance before receiving payment.

These two methods differ on the specifics included in your profit and loss statement, and how far in the future you record sales and expenses. Which method you choose is up to you (and may be worth chatting with an accountant about.)

In both methods, however, profit and loss statements include each element that makes up profit:

  • Sales and revenues by category: Food, wine, liquor, merchandise, for example
  • Costs of goods sold (COGS) by category: Typically, how much it costs for your ingredients.
  • Labor: Wages, tips, and salaried employees
    Incidental operating expenses: The types of costs that fluctuate, like advertising, miscellaneous repairs, administrative expenses like credit card fees, utilities, live music, and so on
  • Fixed costs: Monthly rent, insurance, and other overhead costs you cannot change or control
  • Depreciation: Over time, your assets, like appliances and restaurant equipment, depreciate in value. Calculate this cost using this formula.

Subtracting the sum of all of your costs (labor, operating expenses, fixed costs) from your sales and revenues will give you net profit.

Note that profit typically is calculated before taxes. Many P&Ls include an “income before taxes” line and then a line to calculate your taxes afterwards.

How to Create a Restaurant P&L Statement

Now, it’s time to put all of those elements together. Here’s an example of what a P&L statement could look like for a restaurant. You’ll want to make sure you include the categories and costs most relevant to you, but you can start with this template.

This example below takes a high-level approach, but it’s worth creating a detailed examination of at least your expenses, if not your revenue by menu item, at least once every quarter.

How to Analyze a Restaurant Profit and Loss Statement

Ok, here’s some bad news: The average profit margin for a restaurant is less than 5%. The restaurant industry has famously paper-thin profit margins, which is exactly why 60% of restaurants fail in the first year.

That’s exactly why creating a profit and loss statement is so helpful. Besides getting your books in order so you can accurately pay your taxes and manage your business, it’s the best way to understand the overall financial health of your restaurant.

Few restaurant owners sign up for this part of the deal. You’re likely passionate about food and creating deep, meaningful experiences for your customers — not crunching numbers. But taking a hard look at your profit and loss statement can help you balance your overall costs and make better business decisions, whether that’s looking at specific ingredients in season, choosing new table linens, or deciding whether or not to hire that extra server.

In addition to pulling together all of your revenue and expenses, your profit and loss statement will include several restaurant calculations to help you better understand your business:

Percentage of sales

The first area of your P&L to examine is your revenue by category (or if you’re getting detailed, your revenue by menu item.) To be able to make better decisions on your offerings and on your marketing and sales, you need to know exactly which categories perform well and which don’t.

For example, your wine list may be a powerhouse, making up the majority of your sales. If that’s the case, then highlighting your wine list in marketing materials, training your staff on your different wine offerings, or streamlining other drink choices that aren’t performing as well can help you optimize your revenue.

Gross profit = Revenue – COGS

Gross profit is the first measure of your business health. This is different from your final profit number at the end of your P&L. What this tells you is specifically how profitable your menu is — how much are you bringing in and how much is coming out based on your specific menu items and the cost of the ingredients to make them.

Knowing this allows you to start to dissect your menu to understand which items are worth keeping and which aren’t helping your restaurant grow. It’s also a good place to look at your suppliers and whether or not they’re contributing positively for your business. This might mean purchasing items in bulk or working with local suppliers that charge less for shipping or delivery.

Prime cost: COGS + Labor

Prime cost usually makes up 60% of your total costs. Calculating prime cost gives you a window into your two biggest expenses that you can (theoretically) control. You won’t necessarily be able to negotiate or change your rent, but you can change suppliers, menu items, and adjust staffing accordingly.

Restaurants typically have two levers to increase their profit: Increasing menu prices or decreasing their prime cost.

Net Profit = (Total Revenue + Gains) – (Total Expenses + Losses)

This is the big one! Your net profit is the overall profit that you’ve earned over the given time period. Ideally, this number is positive — often called being “in the black” — but for many restaurants, it takes years to reach profitability.

To increase your profit margin, you’ll need to look at both sides of the equation, increasing your total revenue and decreasing your total expenses.

What Comes Next? Improve Your Margins!

Of course, figuring out what your restaurant is important — but it’s what you do with that information that really matters. From rethinking your menu strategy to implementing new technology, there are countless ways to uncover new efficiencies and reduce costs, using your P&L as your guide. 

(If you want to learn more about how digitizing tip payouts can save your team time, make them happy — and yes, improve those margins — get a demo here!)

You might also be interested in

We know how important same-day payments are for veterans of the service industry who are accustomed to quick cash — and we’re now seeing that same demand expand into other industries as well. 

Kickfin co-founder Justin Roberts joined MasterCard’s InConversation Webinar series to discuss why immediate payment disbursal is key for the restaurant industry and the gig economy as a whole.

Watch the webinar here or read our recap for the highlights: 

People live paycheck-to-paycheck

Not just some people are living paycheck to paycheck. Most people are. 

That’s right: around 64% of U.S. consumers are just getting by. Even more shocking, 51% of consumers who earn over six figures are still living paycheck to paycheck, despite their higher tax bracket. 

It’s a major reason why employees need access to their earnings sooner rather than later. The pressure of watching your bank account slowly drain in the two weeks between payday is putting a lot of pressure on people, leading to a much greater demand for instant payments than ever before. 

Instant payouts are now table stakes

A PYMNTS study found that people of all ages prefer to be paid out immediately, as well as some other interesting statistics:

  • When given the choice, 68% of respondents said they would opt for an instant pay out
  • 40% of gig workers surveyed were willing to pay a fee for an instant disbursement
  • 81% of respondents were willing to switch jobs to an employer that offers instant access to earned wages and tips

It’s safe to say instant payouts are becoming the expectation for today’s modern workforce. But not all instant payouts are created equal.

Consumers are much more likely to engage with an instant payout system if they aren’t required to share their bank account and routing numbers and can access funds with just their debit card credentials. Why? It’s faster, more convenient, and feels more secure. 

Instant payouts and tip management: a perfect use case.

Instant payout innovation has come at the perfect time for the restaurant industry, which is struggling more than ever with the hassles and cost of cash.

If you’re in the restaurant biz, then you know: Most consumers pay with credit cards these days, not cash. That means there’s rarely enough cash on hand to pay out tips at the end of a shift. But employees still want and need instant access to their tip earnings.

Enter: instant payouts. Offering employees the option to receive their tip earnings directly to their bank of choice, the second their shift ends, can go a long way in improving employee satisfaction and ensuring their financial security.

But instant payouts are more than a work perk for employees. The operational benefits for employers range from reduced administrative burden and significant time savings to stronger compliance and streamlined reporting.

Modernizing your tip management strategy: 5 best practices 

There are three key components to your tip management strategy: 

  • Tip pool policy: How are you divvying up tips among your staff? 
  • The payout method: How are you distributing those payments?
  • The systems and tech: What are you using to facilitate those payments?

Under the current circumstances, restaurant operators are under immense pressure to bring their tip management into the future. 

5 best practices for tip management 

Based on our experience working with restaurant operators across the country, we’ve found that these five practices are the perfect recipe for building a successful tip management system.  

  1. Determine the right model and method for your restaurant, based on your location and tech stack
  2. Get a written tip policy (and get it legally approved
  3. Solicit employee feedback in a structured way
  4. Leverage technology for efficiency, accuracy, and compliance
  5. Don’t over-complicate (but do over-communicate!)

Tip management solution must-haves

When seeking a new tip management solution, make sure you carefully vet each system to see if it really meets your needs, or if it’ll be just as frustrating as cash. Here are a few suggestions for what should be on your checklist: 

  • Instant payouts
  • Direct to bank of choice
  • Availability of employee funds
  • Payroll option 
  • Integrations 
  • Simple implementation + onboarding process 
  • Around-the-clock customer service 

Big emphasis on strong customer support teams. Restaurants and bars don’t have “typical” business hours, so neither should your tech support.

Bar Louie automates payouts with Kickfin 

In a recent case study, we took a deep dive into our partnership with Bar Louie, a chain with over 60 locations that took advantage of our new integration with Toast. They made the switch from cash payouts to Kickfin’s instant, direct-to-bank payouts and haven’t looked back.  

Two-minute tip-outs

Before Kickfin, managers spent an average of 45 minutes per shift working through Bar Louie’s complex tip out policy and counting cash. The tip pooling rules were important to them — it’s what makes the entire staff feel like they’re getting their fair share. 

Using the Kickfin0Toast integration, Bar Louie was able to automate the tip pool calculation process and send tips straight to employees in under two minutes – a potential annual savings of 15,000 labor hours across all locations.

>> See more customer success stories 

Do you want to see these kinds of cost-saving results at your business? Let’s talk. Get a demo of Kickfin and see why restaurant owners and employees alike trust us to manage their tips.

Kickfin’s best-in-class tip calculation tool has some exciting new bells and whistles.

If you’re already using Kickfin’s tip pool calculator, then you know how much time and hassle you’re saving by automating everything. (And if you’re not? Head over to our tip pooling software page to see how it works!)

As we partner with more restaurants to bring their tip management into the future, we’re continuing to innovate our product so we can address their biggest pain points.

In this case, that means enhancing our tip pooling features so you can auto-calculate tip amounts even for the most complex or unique tip pool or share policies.

Check out a few of our latest features that will make tip calculations easier than ever.

New Release: Splitting Large Party Tips 

If your restaurant often hosts large parties, you know that the tip share can get confusing. Say one server is taking care of a party of 40 with a bartender assigned to only make drinks for that party. Meanwhile, the server has a few other two-top tables that are getting drinks from the main service bar. At the end of the night, how do you ensure that the large-party bartender gets their fair share of the tip out (without spending an hour on your phone calculator)? 

Kickfin can now automate that process for you, alleviating questions from your event bartender and saving time and effort on the part of your managers. 

Seamless Integrations 

Kickfin is partnering with your POS system to integrate seamlessly with your existing restaurant tech. Already, we’re serving Toast customers through our integration — and your POS just might be up next. 

Kickfin integration users get access to new product features first, like our new tip-out transparency tool. Your employees can log into their Kickfin accounts and see exactly how their tips have been split between team members, offering them full transparency into your tip policy in action.

Manager Tips 

We’re always listening to feedback to improve the Kickfin experience, and this one goes out to all of our restaurant partners who asked us to streamline the manager tip reallocation process.

>>Learn more about managers & tipping laws

In most cases, managers are not allowed to earn tips since they are salaried employees. But we all know that managers often step in and take care of tables to help servers get out of the weeds. Well-meaning guests will most likely leave a tip, not knowing that the manager technically can’t accept them — so where does that money go?

Kickfin now features a default pool, where tips “paid” to a manager are automatically redistributed to tipped staff based on your restaurant’s tip policy. 

Improved Labor Data Accuracy

We all know how easy it is for an employee to forget to clock out after a long shift. And sure, they aren’t going to get paid for a 16-hour overnight shift, but when payday comes around, those extra hours create a nightmare for your payroll team. 

With Kickfin, all employees are required to be clocked out in order to finalize payments — so you’ll catch the labor data mistake long before your payroll team has to sort it out. 

Even Better Security 

We’re committed to protecting you and your employees’ hard-earned money, so we’re adding an extra layer of security for certain transactions. You can now enable double approval of payments that meet certain conditions:

  • First payment for new employees
  • Employees getting their first payout in X number of days
  • Employees receiving more than X payouts in a 24-hour period. 

With these extra guardrails in place, you can always be sure that the right money is going to the right person. Reach out to our support team to configure your custom security measures.

Using Kickfin is a win-win for operators, managers, and employees alike. Restaurateurs save on cash delivery and labor costs, managers shave hours off their workload, and servers have the same instant payment that they’re used to — without the hassle and uncertainty of cash. 

Want to learn more about Kickfin? Let us show you the ropes with a demo

You heard it here first: 2024 is the year of integrations. 

In an effort to make Kickfin even more user-friendly and adaptable for our partners, we’re working with restaurant tech leaders to integrate our tip management solution with their existing systems. 

First up — Toast! A trailblazer for cloud-based restaurant management technology, Toast is a favorite POS system for restaurants, food trucks, and bars. You probably know them best for being the first to create handheld POS devices, drastically changing the entire restaurant ecosystem. To make life easier for their customers, Toast partnered with Kickfin to create an integration that makes tip pooling, tip distribution, and calculation smoother. 

As restaurant tech innovators ourselves, this partnership is the perfect fit for Kickfin. 

Our goal at Kickfin is always to save time for managers, prevent loss for operators, and create more financial freedom for hospitality employees through pioneering technology that digitizes many of the analog processes that the restaurant industry is built on. 

As a member of the Toast Partner Ecosystem, we’ll be able to deliver our product to Toast customers and modernize their tip management systems with ease. Using technology that they’re already familiar with, Toast customers can reap the benefits of Kickfin with minimal ramp-up upon implementation.

“No two restaurants split tips the same way, but invariably, it takes too long and involves too much risk,”  said Justin Roberts, the co-CEO of Kickfin. “This integration allows for the utmost customization with a near-zero learning curve — truly the best of both worlds for restaurants that want to save time, reduce labor costs and make life easier for their team.”

And one of their partners is already enjoying the ROI with Kickfin. Bar Louie takes great pride in making tip distribution equitable for all of their employees, so they rely on a complex tip pooling system to ensure fair pay. Prior to using Kickfin, managers at each of their 60 locations spent 45 minutes at the end of every shift to make calculations and divvy out funds to all of their servers. Now, they’ve streamlined their tip-out process with Kickfin — and managers are doing the same work in less than a minute! That’s an annual average of 15,000 hours saved across their entire chain. 

>> Hear more Kickfin success stories

After implementing Kickfin, managers can spend their time on what matters most: delivering excellent customer service. That means more table touches, more support for your staff, and more time to focus on server training. 

With managers spending more time on the floor (instead of counting cash in the back), you’ll see better customer reviews, better service, and increased sales — all from digitizing your tip-outs with Kickfin.

We’re excited about our new partnership with Toast and the opportunity to make digital tipping a reality for their customers. For restaurants who aren’t using Toast, don’t worry! We look forward to providing similar integrations across the restaurant tech industry.  

Want to see these results for yourself? Find out how to become a Kickfin integration partner or check out a demo of our platform.

No growing pains here! 

We’re thrilled to announce that Inc. listed Kickfin in their list of the top 10 fastest growing companies in the Southwest. (In fact, we earned the #1 spot in the software category and were listed as #9 overall!) We’re honored to be included alongside innovative companies that are making a big difference in our region. 

Inc. measured Kickfin’s growth from 2020 to 2022 — which wasn’t an easy time for the restaurant industry, to say the least. In spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic, restaurant concepts across the country embraced Kickfin’s technology. 

As a group, the 2024 Inc. honorees averaged 136% growth and created 17,606 new jobs over a two-year period. Individually, Kickfin grew by a whopping 1,304% (yes, really!).

We want to recognize and thank both our amazing customers and the Kickfin team for being part of our success story and allowing us to be a part of theirs. 

Our Customers

For years, restaurants manually calculated and paid out cash tips — despite the increasing hassle and liability those old-school methods entail. It’s not because operators are tech-averse; there simply wasn’t a good way to automate the process that didn’t create new friction or require new workarounds. 

That’s precisely why we developed Kickfin. Of course, we’re proud of what we built and the team behind it (more on that below). But we owe a great deal of our success to the customers who trusted us enough to give Kickfin a shot — especially those early adopters who are now some of our longest-standing customers.

There’s a leap of faith involved when you partner with a vendor and layer in new technology, particularly when it impacts something as important and sensitive as how you pay your people.  We don’t take that lightly, and we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve each and every customer who’s been on this journey with us.

>> Hear from our customers about their experiences with Kickfin

Our Team 

Every person on our team wholeheartedly believes in our mission and vision for the future. In short: we’re here to make the tip management process insanely easy for everyone so that paying out your people is (almost!) as great as getting paid. 

As backstory: Our co-founders, Brian and Justin, came up with the idea for Kickfin while dining out together and noticing that an armored car was dropping off cash. They asked why a restaurant would need a cash delivery when most patrons pay by card; the manager explained the cash was needed to pay out tips at the end of the shift. The inefficiency (and expense, and risk…) of that process was a lightbulb moment for Brian and Justin.

They set out to build a team who not only understood the problem, but could think critically and creatively about a solution — and bring it to life. 

From sales and marketing to product and support, every Kickfin employee has had a hand in the growth and success of our company, thanks to their passion for our purpose and their commitment to being best in class.

We’re proud of what we’ve achieved thus far, and we’re excited to continue collaborating with our customers, innovating on their behalf, and taking Kickfin to the next level together. Onward and upward!

See Kickfin in action!