How Much Do Restaurant Owners Make? (With Recent Data)

Updated July 26, 2023

Four people look over large pans of sauce and ingredients in a restaurant kitchen. Three wear chef hats.

Owning a restaurant is an exciting career aspiration for people with a passion for food and hospitality. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, experience in the service industry and the commitment to grow a restaurant in a community, being a restaurant owner can be a satisfying and lucrative career. Understanding how much restaurant owners make can give you an idea of your earning potential and help you start planning your career path. 

In this article, we answer common questions about compensation for restaurant owners and provide information on other aspects of the role.

How much do restaurant owners make?

The amount restaurant owners earn typically depends on the success of their restaurant, but the average salary for the owner of a restaurant is $82,566 per year

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.

Because restaurant owners are entrepreneurs who manage their own companies, they have a large amount of control over their salaries and earnings. Typically, as the restaurant becomes more profitable, restaurant owners can afford to pay themselves a higher salary. When restaurant owners first open their business, they may start with a small salary, then increase their earnings as the business gains a reliable customer base.

High-paying states for restaurant owners

Some of the states with the highest salaries for restaurant owners include:

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the links provided.

  • Florida: $85,479 per year

  • California: $89,291 per year

  • New Jersey: $90,806 per year

  • New York: $90,983 per year

  • Washington: $99,811 per year

Note that figures from Glassdoor help to supplement data from Indeed.

Related: How Much Can a Restaurant Manager Make?

Highest-paying cities for restaurant owners

Here's a list of metropolitan areas with the highest average annual salaries for food service managers, a type of role that includes restaurant owners, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Ocean City, New Jersey: $91,790 per year

  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut: $90,830 per year

  • Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii: $89,760 per year

  • Trenton, New Jersey: $88,660 per year 

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California: $85,840 per year

  • Bellingham, Washington: $84,260 per year

  • Salisbury, Maryland-Delaware: $82,690 per year 

  • Norwich-New London-Westerly, Connecticut-Rhode Island: $80,960 per year

  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania: $80,940 per year

  • Dover, Delaware: $80,710 per year

Note that figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics help to supplement data from Indeed.

How do restaurant owners get paid?

Restaurant owners can get paid by earning a consistent salary each year or by taking a portion of the restaurant's overall profits. They can also have a combination compensation package that combines a regular salary and dividends from business profits. Some restaurant owners hold multiple positions, such as head chef and restaurant manager, resulting in a high salary. When they first start their business, some restaurant owners may choose not to take a salary to invest as much money as possible into sustaining the business and increasing cash flow.

Related: 8 Chef Career Change Job Options in Different Fields

How much does it cost to run a restaurant?

Before you can make money as a restaurant owner, you first can invest funds into starting the restaurant. Running a restaurant can cost thousands or even millions of dollars per year to run depending on the size and popularity of the establishment. Everything from the number of customers you serve and the square footage of the restaurant can impact how much you spend. Some of the standard operational costs for a restaurant include:

  • Labor costs, such as wages for servers, cooks and bartenders

  • Food costs for menu items

  • Kitchen equipment

  • Utilities

  • Rent

  • Licenses and inspections

Related: Commercial Buildings: Definition, Types and Tips

When do restaurant owners start earning money?

It can take multiple years for restaurants to earn a consistent profit depending on the business model you use. Some restaurant owners earn a salary right away and pay themselves through loans or startup funds from investors. Others live off of savings or funds from other jobs while they wait for the business to become profitable to pay themselves a salary or take a portion of the profits. This decision depends on their personal financial situation, the available capital for the business and the amount of cash flow for the restaurant.

Related: 11 Skills To Include On Your Restaurant Manager Resume

What do restaurant owners do?

Restaurant owners can have different responsibilities depending on their level of involvement in the business. Some restaurant owners simply manage the official paperwork for the business and delegate the daily operations to other employees, while others have a direct role in hiring, creating the menu and marketing the business. Here are some of the general responsibilities of a restaurant owner:

  • Create the restaurant concept: Restaurant owners think of the name, theme, types of cuisine, general menu plan and overall concept for their restaurant. They also decide on the type of decor, how to serve customers and the setup of their establishment.

  • Hire and supervise staff: A restaurant owner hires the head chef, general manager and other staff to represent the business, then trains and manages them to ensure quality service.

  • Manage finances: As the owner of the business, restaurant owners oversee the financial aspect of the company. They track expenses, develop a budget and create a strategy for financial growth.

  • Coordinate suppliers: To establish a consistent supply of fresh ingredients and quality supplies, restaurant owners build relationships with suppliers to order food and equipment in bulk.

  • Market the business: Restaurant owners attract customers by planning marketing initiatives and coordinating advertisements, discounts and promotions.

Related: 12 Exciting Careers in Food (With Salary and Job Info)

What are the types of restaurant owner jobs?

Restaurant owners can hold several positions in their business depending on their expertise, the role they want and the type of business they run. Here are some of the different types of restaurant owners:

  • Franchise owner: A restaurant franchise owner pays a franchise fee to a large organization in exchange for the use of its business model, name, recipes and logo. The franchise is an independent restaurant but follows restrictions to produce consistent products and maintain consistent branding with other franchise restaurants.

  • Owner-operator: An owner-operator at a restaurant manages the daily operations of the business. They often spend their day at the restaurant making food, managing inventory, interacting with customers and handling basic logistics.

  • Investor: Restaurant investors provide entrepreneurs with a large amount of money to fund their ideas for a restaurant in exchange for a share of ownership of the business. They typically aren't involved with directly operating the day-to-day activities of the restaurant and instead focus on financial support.

Related: 15 Professional Titles for Business Owners

How do you become a restaurant owner?

Becoming a restaurant owner requires research, preparation and dedication. Each entrepreneur has a different path to opening a restaurant, but here is a general guide:

  1. Brainstorm ideas for the type of restaurant you want and the general concept.

  2. Prepare a basic budget for how much it costs to prepare the food, run the building and pay your staff.

  3. Develop a business plan for how much you want to charge for your products and how you want to achieve your desired profit margin.

  4. Fundraise, save and meet with potential investors to raise money for the restaurant's startup costs.

  5. Plan a menu with a chef and test all of the meals you want to sell at the restaurant.

  6. Find suppliers and negotiate prices and schedules for purchasing ingredients.

  7. Choose a location for your restaurant and talk to a realtor about either purchasing or renting space with an appropriate kitchen and dining room.

  8. Register the restaurant with the government and apply for any necessary permits and licenses.

  9. Host interviews, hire staff and train them to prepare and serve meals.

  10. Write company policies about how you want staff to interact with the public, payment policies and other details.

  11. Launch the restaurant to the public and oversee its operations.

Related: How To Become a Successful Restaurant Owner in 6 Steps

What are the benefits of owning a restaurant?

Owning a restaurant can be an exciting and lucrative career if you have the passion and drive to build your own success. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy:

  • Gain satisfaction from contributing to the community culture

  • Meet interesting people and socialize with customers in your restaurant

  • Be creative with your menu and interior design

  • Set your own hours and choose your responsibilities


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