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How to Maintain Restaurant Accounts | 2021 Guide

Table of Contents
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You didn’t get into this business because you like accounting, after all.

And learning how to manage restaurant accounts is no easy task, even if you read a lot of restaurant management books.

That’s why we put this guide together.

Read through it, follow its links, and you’ll get a much better understanding of how to maintain restaurant accounts.

And bar and hotel accounts, for that matter.

Because accounting for hotel and restaurant management is similar to all other types of hospitality businesses.

Good luck out there, hospitality accountrepreneurs.

Restaurant Accounting

Click the above link for our full writeup on restaurant accounting methods.

It’s a helpful introduction to the main thrusts of the field. But there are some important takeaways we can summarize right here.

First, there are two types of accounting methods typically used in bars and restaurants:

  • The cash method. This method records transactions when payments are made. There are no accounts receivable. Most restaurants use this method of accounting.
  • The accrual method. This method records transactions right when they happen, regardless of if there’s payment or not. This is a more accurate method, typically, because it includes accounts payable and receivable. This is usually used by massive restaurants with multi-million dollar annual revenue.

Beyond the methods used, there are a few considerations restaurant managers must consider that managers in other industries usually don’t.

  • Inventory management
  • Food and pour costs
  • Prepaid accounts
  • Short pays and vendor credit
  • Tips

The article linked to above provides a much more thorough look at the topic. We encourage you to click through and read it.

Once you have a general idea of the methods of how to maintain restaurant accounts, move on to how to measure them.

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Restaurant KPIs

Click the link above for an in-depth writeup on restaurant metrics.

Restaurant KPIs, or key performance indicators, are metrics used to measure financial success.

No successful bar or restaurant has ever gotten there without measuring financial performance repeatedly. Then reacting to the numbers.

Here’s what most bars and restaurants pay attention to:

  • Gross profit. Total earnings after subtracting the cost of goods sold (COGS).
  • Break-even point. The revenue needed to make back variable and fixed costs. AKA the amount of sales needed to become profitable.
  • Net profit margin. The amount of profit expressed as a percentage of total sales. In other words, the percentage of revenue above the company’s break-even point.
  • Revenue per seat hour. This is called RevPASH, and it’s the sales earned per available seat per hour.
  • Revenue per square foot. Total revenue divided by total area, either in feet or meters.
  • Revenue per cover. Similar to the below per head average, but for the restaurant as a whole. This is how much each guest in your restaurant spends, on average.
  • Historical sales. Sales data from past days, weeks, and months. Used for demand or traffic forecasting and easy to generate with bar inventory software like BinWise Pro.
  • COGS ratio. The percentage of total revenue made up of raw material and labor.
  • Labor cost ratio. The percentage of total revenue made up of all wages, benefits, and taxes paid to employees.
  • Prime cost ratio. The percentage of total revenue made up of COGS and labor cost.
  • Inventory turnover ratio. How many times a bar or restaurant sold and replaced their inventory over a set time period.
  • Per head average. A server KPI that measures a server’s total sales against their total number of covers.
  • Guests per server per hour. Another server KPI that measures velocity, not sales. Measures number of covers against hours worked.
  • EBITDA. Total sales minus all non-cash items.

In an ideal situation, all these KPIs are piped into a central dashboard that can be viewed and interacted with.

That’s why it’s so important to choose the right bar inventory app. Some, like BinWise Pro, integrate smoothly with accounting and bar POS systems. That makes collecting and visualizing data in a central place easy and, dare we say, fun.

Next up, let’s look at the two most important documents in the world. The world of how to maintain restaurant accounts. The P&L statement and the chart of accounts.

Restaurant Profit and Loss Statement

This is a financial document that records a company’s total sales and expenses over a set period of time.

It’s a great way to spin up a snapshot of your most basic KPI: how much profit you’re making and where it’s coming from. 

You can read much more about by clicking the header of this section, which is a link.

Bars and restaurants should generate their P&Ls at least every four weeks. And here’s what they should include, at minimum:

  • COGS
  • Labor cost
  • Sales
  • Net profit/loss

Calculating your profit and loss statement is a matter of the above metrics.

A P&L is not a restaurant balance sheet, which provides a fuller picture of a bar or restaurant’s financial health.

Now let’s look into the second important document, the chart of accounts.

Restaurant Chart of Accounts

Click the link in the header directly above to read our in-depth article about restaurant and bar charts of accounts. 

A chart of accounts is a financial tool for bar and restaurant managers. It provides a clear picture of where all the company’s money is going.

It basically takes all the important financial information in your business and organizes it into around 7 categories.

Here are the common ones:

  • Assets. Here is listed all current or fixed assets, including checking and savings accounts, cash, inventory, accounts receivable, and more.
  • Liabilities. This is what a business owes, like your accounts payable, credit cards, taxes, etc.
  • Equity. What’s left after liabilities are subtracted from assets.
  • Revenue. Income generated from daily operations.
  • Expenses. Overhead expenses like utilities, rent, and insurance. Also includes labor cost.

So what do restaurants use these brilliant little charts for? 

To track incoming money, understand their debt, get a clear picture of spending patterns, and file taxes.

Pretty useful, then. 

Now let’s look at how bars and restaurants can use all this information to consistently draw conclusions about the health of their business.

Restaurant Financial Audit Checklist

Click the link in the header above to read our in-depth article about financial audits for restaurants. You can also get a free downloadable audit checklist there.

The only way to figure out how to manage restaurant accounts effectively is to do it often. With financial audits. Repeatedly.  Once a month is standard.

Fun, we know. But necessary. Oh so necessary.

Consistently auditing your restaurant’s finances is the only way you’ll improve your company’s finances. Because you cannot improve what is not measured.


Here’s what’s typically covered in the audit of a restaurant’s finances:

  • Profit and loss statement. A comprehensive snapshot of your profit and where it’s coming from.
  • Daily sales reporting. Reports pulled from your POS or beverage inventory (like a wine cellar app).
  • Labor cost
  • Voids. Signed off by the MOD.
  • Waste. Signed off by the kitchen manager or chef.
  • Invoices. Again, easy to upload into your accounting software if you’re using a beverage inventory management system like BinWise Pro.
  • Bank statements
  • Cash and safes
  • Tax remittance

It’s clear that there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to how to maintain restaurant accounts. That’s why software is darn near required for the job.

Restaurant Accounting Software

Here’s our roundup of the best software for bar and restaurant accounting. They should make your life easier.

For the full article, click the link in the header above this section.

  • Best overall: QuickBooks Online
  • Best for a cafe: Freshbooks
  • Best for pubs: ZipBooks
  • Best for food trucks: Xero

You can read more about each platform by clicking the link above. Suffice it to say, there are some commonalities to look for. 

They are:

  • Simplicity. Look for a cloud-based platform that has both accounts payable and receivable features. It should also have connectivity with bank accounts.
  • Payroll integration. Your accounting software should be able to seamlessly integrate with your payroll software.
  • Bar inventory management. The right accounting software will integrate with your bar inventory platform, too. Of course, that requires you have a bar inventory platform that integrates with accounting software. BinWise Pro does, so look no further.

Using an inventory management system that hooks up to your other restaurant management software is your best bet. 

You’ll be able to pipe in real-time inventory, sales, and invoice data right where you need. That’ll make reporting easy and auditing a cinch. 

BinWise Pro is industry-leading software that does just that. It manages inventory in real-time and collects all the historical data your business needs for profitable analysis and decision making.

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