Bar and restaurant accounting is a different animal.
This is why:
It depends on many unique metrics and reports, and they all have to be considered simultaneously.
That’s why restaurant accounting software is necessary.
If you want to run a successful bar or restaurant, there’s no way around it. You need to know how to manage restaurant accounts and automate and centralize your financial reporting. Or else you’ll spend way too much time and effort doing it yourself.
We designed our bar inventory software to plug directly into bar and restaurant accounting software. We know a thing or two about bar and restaurant accounting.
So we rounded up the options we think are the best so you can compare them.
Let’s get to it.
Best Accounting Software for Restaurants: QuickBooks Online
For our money, QuickBooks Online is the best restaurant accounting system (90). Here’s why.
First, it’s a very popular platform with many resources for learning it. If you’re doing your own restaurant accounting, choosing a platform with a large, active community is a big help. And if you pay someone to do your accounting, they’ll likely be familiar with QuickBooks because most accounts are.
Second, it seamlessly integrates with a whole host of bar-and-restaurant-specific software platforms and bar POS systems. That allows bar and restaurant operators to build their tech stack exactly how they want. By easily plugging in other platforms to QuickBooks. It’s everything that’s great about an all-in-one solution coupled with everything great about a custom-built solution. A great example of this is BinWise Pro. It’s compatible with QuickBooks and funnels reams of valuable restaurant and bar inventory data into your accounting dashboard.
Third, it has an intuitive interface with a centralized dashboard that auto-schedules reporting. Some of those reports even track time and payroll so scheduling inefficiencies can be brought to heel.
Best Accounting Software for Cafe: FreshBooks
We chose FreshBooks for the best accounting software for a cafe. The reason this platform shines as small restaurant accounting software is because of its feature set and price point. It’s designed with the lean operation in mind.
FreshBooks is quite similar to QuickBooks, believe it or not. While it’s not as feature-rich as QuickBooks, it’s jam-packed with useful features for the price.
First, FreshBooks automates accounting tasks like expense organization, time tracking, and report running. It's also great for conducting an internal audit of restaurant.
It also offers:
- Late payment reminders with custom messaging
- Tracks all expenses automatically by tying to a business bank account
- Photo receipt upload option for expense tracking
- Ability for seamless bar inventory app integration
- Sleek, branded, exportable reports that reflect your operation’s professionalism
- Cash flow monitoring
- A built-in restaurant break even point calculator
Altogether, FreshBooks is a system designed with small businesses in mind. And to make it easy to get paid and track expenses and performance. It’s basically the perfect cafe accounting software (50).
And it starts at, as of this writing, $4.50 per month. Can’t beat that with a stick.
Best Accounting Software for Pubs: ZipBooks
We give ZipBooks the nod for bar bookkeeping software because it’s budget-friendly software that’s designed specifically to free up time for its users. No more spending all day clicking away at accounting software.
It frees good bar managers up to work on other bar-related stuff. Like building relationships and devising psychological pricing strategies in underground laboratories.
It’s also got a free option, which is great for test drives. And the monthly plan happens to be downright reasonable, too.
Here’s what ZipBooks will get a busy bar manager:
- Automated expense tracking
- Full spectrum financial analysis and reporting
- Secure document sharing
- Customized taxonomy system for financial books
- One-time and recurring billing
- Streamlined, easy-to-use interface
- Integration with POS systems and their inventory management capabilities
- Simplified restaurant profit and loss statement
Take BinWise Pro, for example. It’s a bar inventory management system that integrates into virtually every POS system. If you’re using ZipBooks, it automatically benefits from inventory software like BinWise Pro. By using the POS. It’s literally that easy to build a custom software stack for your bar or restaurants.
Best Accounting Software for Food Trucks: Xero
Here’s why we recommend Xero if you’re looking for the best accounting software for good trucks: it integrates with TouchBistro.
And we think TouchBistro is the leanest, meanest POS a food truck can get.
That said, what does Xero get you besides TouchBistro integration?
A bunch of admin taken off your plate and streamlined finances.
- Create customized recurring online invoices
- Syncs easily with third-party apps of all sorts, including both TouchBistro and BinWise Pro
- Instantly generates an up-to-date view of cash flow through an online dashboard
- Advanced purchase order management
And it starts at, as of this writing, 11 bucks a month.
How to Choose Food and Beverage Accounting Software
There are a few guidelines we think benefit bar and restaurant owners when it comes to choosing food and beverage accounting software. It should be easy to use and integrate with payroll and inventory management software.
Find a Simple Accounting Software for Restaurant
Simple is relative, of course. You won’t know if accounting software for a restaurant is simple until you try it. That said, there are a few hallmarks of simple accounting software for restaurants.
Simple accounting software for a restaurant will:
- Be cloud-based. You should be able to access your platform and data at any time, from anywhere. From a phone or a tablet, from a desktop computer in a far-flung vacation destination. Anywhere you get the hankering for some sweet restaurant numbers, you can indulge.
- Have both accounts payable and accounts receivable reporting features. Seems obvious, but there are a lot of questionable options out there. Options that don’t offer tracking and management for both sides of your cash flow. You'll also want an easy to use restaurant chart of accounts.
- Offer connectivity with bank accounts. If your bank accounts and accounting software don’t share information, that information has to be input manually. By you. It’s time consuming to say the least.
Restaurant Accounting and Payroll Software Integration
Managing payroll is a unique challenge in hospitality. There are large staffs with a lot of turnover and different pay. Hours per week and per shift are inconsistent. Oh, tips, too. Strangely, there exist restaurant and bar accounting software that doesn’t hook up to your payroll software.
The concepts of accounting and payroll are intimately linked from an operational standpoint. And if your restaurant accounting software doesn’t consider payroll in its calculations, or generate payroll reports, insights, and analyses, it’s not pulling its weight.
Bar Inventory Management Software
And, finally, bar inventory management. A restaurant or bar’s inventory is typically its largest asset. It’s also the asset with the most volatility. Get your inventory control methods wrong and you’re looking at excess inventory, high inventory variance, and money swirling down the drain.
With an inventory management system that syncs to accounting software, a large part of bookkeeping is streamlined. Purchase orders and invoices are sent directly to accounting. And restaurant KPI like pour cost, inventory usage, and par level inventory can be folded in for extra robust reporting.
And the more information you have at your disposal, the more profitable your decisions. That’s how to do liquor inventory right. It’s how to do wine inventory or draft beer inventory right, too. A successful bar means successful inventory management.\