• Calla Norman

How to Find Investors for Your Restaurant

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

Interior of Kiin Lao and Thai Eatery in Pittsburgh, featuring the bar area and red chairs

How much does it cost to open a restaurant? How can I pay for it? Find the answers to those questions in this blog post!

So, you have an amazing idea for a restaurant. You’ve cut your teeth in the restaurant industry for years, and you have the burn marks from hot plates and knife scars to prove it (ouch). Now, you’re ready to do something for yourself. Or perhaps you’re already an established restaurateur, and you’re looking for room to grow—maybe a second location?

Either way, you’re going to need some investors, unless you have a spare $375,000 laying around, which is the average cost to start a restaurant. So, where do you find them? And when you find investors, what do you tell them to get them to take a chance on you?

Below, we’re going to walk through the basics of what you need to talk to start funding your restaurant:

  1. What you need to have ready before approaching investors,

  2. How to find investors,

  3. What to look for in a good investor, and finally

  4. How crowd-investing can fund your restaurant

Learn more about growing your restaurant concept with Honeycomb Credit's The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Restaurant in 2021!

A. What do I need to have ready to talk to investors?

1. Business Plan

Your business plan is essentially the who/what/where/when/how of your business. It’s where you show you’ve done the market analysis, have a plan of how the restaurant will be organized, and how you’ll promote the business.

Many investors will ask for your business plan before you meet with them to pitch, so this is often their first impression of you, so make it count! You also should bring a business plan to any pitch meetings if investors don’t ask for them right off the bat.

2. Pitch deck

This is your opportunity to introduce your idea to investors and get them excited about it! Usually, a pitch deck takes the form of a PowerPoint presentation, and typically it’s where you get to have a bit more fun than with your business plan. You can add sample menus, mood boards, and different design elements to really show what makes this restaurant unique.

Essentially, the pitch deck is where you not only drive home the fact that you’re confident and able to make this business successful but also make the investor fall in love with your future restaurant.

The other important thing to consider for a pitch deck is to be cognizant of your investor’s time, and also make sure you hit all the things you need to talk about. Your business plan is a great resource to structure your pitch. All you need to do is refine it into a concise but powerful message.

3. Plan out your use of funds

Another element that investors look for is that you have a clear purpose for the funds. You must take the time to map out a cost analysis of what restaurant basics you’ll need - small wares, ovens, equipment, hiring, and oh, rent.

Your business plan and pitch need to include these numbers, as well as other current investors, and how much you’re asking for.

Investors often want to see that you’ve got some skin in the game as well, so map out your contribution, whether that’s in funds or in your time and energy.

Other things that investors will often look for are your plans for the future. What are your future revenue projections?? When do you plan to launch? How do you plan to grow?

4. A great team

Having a great team to back you up is another way you can inspire confidence in your investors. As part of your business plan and pitch deck, talk about the key players in your restaurant. Where else has your general manager worked? Is your head waiter also a master sommelier? If these are relevant to your restaurant’s functions, they’ll be relevant to your investors.

B. Where do I find investors?

1. Family and Friends

A solid place to start looking for your first round of investors is actually pretty close to home. Plenty of start-ups, restaurants included, look to their friends and family to help at least start the funding process.

Some good rules of thumb when talking to family and friends about investing in your restaurant is to have a really clear set of terms and guidelines about the investment agreement. That way, there will less likely be bad blood due to miscommunication. Also, don’t go just cold-calling childhood friends or distant cousins asking for money - look to see if this is in their interests as well and if they stand to benefit from the relationship as well.

Also, make sure that the friends who are investing in you are in a good position to take some risk on an investment. Even if you’re the world’s greatest restaurateur, as the past year has shown us, restaurants are risky!

2. Facebook Groups and other Social Media Forums

Social media can be great for more than just complaining and sharing pictures of cats!

Are you part of any industry groups? You can either outright see if anyone is looking to invest in a new business, or maybe just seek advice from others who might have once been in your shoes. Even if they might not be wanting to invest at the moment, they can maybe point you toward investors who have invested in them and might also be interested in you.

3. Industry connections

On a similar note, your industry connections are also another viable option to look for future investors. Whether it’s a former boss, an instructor at culinary school, or someone you worked the line with who has become successful, these people know where you’ve been and should have an idea whether you’ve got what it takes to build a successful restaurant.

4. Banks and small business loans

You could also go the route that many small businesses do, and seek financing through a bank or Small Business Administration. Banks will be looking for similar things to other investors such as a strong business plan, relevant experience, and a clear purpose for the funds.