How to keep accounting records for a small restaurant

Written by trish jackson
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How to keep accounting records for a small restaurant
Small restaurants' accounting records must be kept accurately. (Terrasse de restaurant image by albillottet from

It is essential to keep daily accounting records for any restaurant business. Handwritten ledgers are not the best option now that there are several inexpensive accounting software packages available. They will lead you through the set-up and operating procedures and also produce reports that will enable you to calculate your restaurant's profit or loss. These programs can help you create and implement a budget to ensure that you don't have a cash flow problem in the future.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Load a simple accounting package onto your business computer and "create" the company. Most software will lead you through the process, but you should get help from an accounting professional if necessary.

  2. 2

    Enter opening balances, which may include the amounts you have paid to purchase the assets, cash you have used to prepare the business for operation and the cost of your inventory, plus any cash you have put into the bank. If you are using the software to pay employees, you will need to enter their names and tax information.

  3. 3

    At the end of each business day, count how much income you have taken in from all sales. Your point-of-sale system may be able to provide the information. If not, you will have to count all the slips. Keep a separate tally of tips. Enter this information into your computer, and file the paperwork in a folder in a file cabinet. You may file the income records by month, day or week.

  4. 4

    Enter all expenses in the computer, and file the invoices and receipts alphabetically in a file cabinet. Keep payroll records in a separate area, and create a file folder for each employee. You may write the person's start and termination dates on the folder for convenience.

  5. 5

    At any time, you will be able to pull up reports showing your income, profit or loss, cash flow, expenses and other information. This will help you optimise your net profit and will be helpful for your tax accountant and auditors.

Tips and warnings

  • Be certain to accurately track reported tips, as they may be discounted from federal payroll tax payments and workers' compensation premiums.
  • If you are not computer-literate, you may be able to hire a part-time book-keeper to keep the records in order. Check the credentials of any accounting personnel you may hire to make certain they are competent to be entrusted with your business records.

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