How profitable is a sushi restaurant?

Data provided here comes from our team of experts who have been working on business plan for a sushi restaurant. Furthermore, an industry specialist has reviewed and approved the final article.

sushi profitabilityIs running a sushi restaurant profitable, and what is the expected income range for sushi bar owners?

Let's check together.

Revenue metrics of a sushi restaurant

How does a sushi restaurant makes money?

A sushi business makes money by selling sushi and other related products.

What are the common products sold in sushi restaurants?

Sushi restaurants offer a variety of popular dishes, with some common products being: sushi rolls, which are made by wrapping vinegared rice and a choice of ingredients like raw fish, vegetables, or seafood in sheets of seaweed; sashimi, which is thinly sliced, fresh, raw seafood or fish served without rice; nigiri sushi, consisting of small hand-pressed mounds of rice topped with slices of seafood, typically held together with a thin strip of seaweed; maki rolls, where rice and ingredients are rolled in seaweed and sliced into bite-sized pieces; tempura, which features lightly battered and fried seafood or vegetables; miso soup, a savory broth made from fermented soybean paste; edamame, boiled and salted young soybeans; and gyoza, which are pan-fried dumplings filled with ingredients like pork or vegetables.

These dishes highlight a mix of flavors and textures, making sushi restaurants popular destinations for those who enjoy fresh, flavorful, and often healthy Japanese cuisine.

What about the prices?

At a typical sushi restaurant, the prices of items on the menu can vary based on factors such as location, restaurant reputation, and the specific ingredients used. Generally, basic sushi rolls like California rolls or avocado rolls might range from $4 to $10 per roll.

More elaborate specialty rolls with premium ingredients can go from $10 to $18 per roll. Nigiri sushi, which consists of a piece of fish atop a small mound of rice, might be priced around $2.50 to $5 per piece, depending on the type of fish or seafood.

Sashimi, which is thinly sliced raw fish without rice, could be priced at around $10 to $25 for a plate.

Sushi combos or platters that offer a variety of items might range from $20 to $40 or more, depending on the selection and quantity.

Sushi Item Price Range ($)
Basic Sushi Rolls $4 - $10 per roll
Specialty Rolls $10 - $18 per roll
Nigiri Sushi $2.50 - $5 per piece
Sashimi $10 - $25 per plate
Sushi Combos/Platters $20 - $40 or more

business plan japanese rice ballsWho are the customers of a sushi restaurant?

Customers of a sushi restaurant can range from first-time sushi eaters to experienced sushi connoisseurs.

Which segments?

We've made many business plans for projects like this. These are the groups of customers we usually see.

Customer Segment Description Preferences How to Find Them
Health Enthusiasts Individuals focused on healthy eating and nutrition. Prefer low-calorie, fresh ingredients, and light sushi options. Collaborate with local gyms, health clubs, and wellness events.
Social Foodies People who enjoy dining out as a social experience. Love sharing platters, creative rolls, and unique presentations. Utilize social media marketing, food bloggers, and event partnerships.
Business Professionals Busy individuals looking for quick and convenient meals. Opt for lunch specials, takeout options, and efficient service. Advertise near business districts, offer online ordering, and delivery services.
Adventurous Eaters Customers seeking new and exotic flavors. Enjoy sushi with unique ingredients, fusion rolls, and chef's specials. Feature a diverse menu with rotating specials, collaborate with food critics.

How much they spend?

In our detailed exploration of the business model, we've found that customers tend to spend between $20 to $40 per meal at a standard sushi restaurant. This expenditure fluctuates based on factors like the selection of dishes, whether they choose premium options, and if they add beverages or desserts to their meal.

Considering customer dining patterns, studies indicate that an average customer might dine at the restaurant from 5 to 15 times a year, taking into account both regular patrons and more casual visitors. The frequency can vary significantly, particularly influenced by the restaurant's location, customer loyalty, and seasonal promotions.

Given these parameters, the estimated lifetime value of an average customer at the sushi restaurant, assuming they remain a customer for one year, would be from $100 (5x20) to $600 (15x40). This range accommodates various customer engagement levels, from those who enjoy occasional visits, to die-hard sushi lovers who dine more frequently.

With this data, we can conjecture that, on average, a customer would contribute around $350 in revenue to a sushi restaurant annually, balancing out occasional patrons and regular sushi aficionados.

(Disclaimer: the figures provided above are generalized averages and may not precisely reflect your specific business circumstances. Factors such as geographic location, target demographic, and restaurant prestige also significantly influence these numbers.)

Which type(s) of customer(s) to target?

It's something to have in mind when you're writing the business plan for your sushi restaurant.

The most profitable customers for a sushi restaurant typically fall into the category of "sushi enthusiasts" who have a genuine passion for Japanese cuisine.

These customers tend to order a variety of sushi rolls, sashimi, and specialty dishes, leading to higher average check sizes. They are profitable because they are willing to spend more for quality and variety.

To target and attract them, the restaurant can employ marketing strategies like social media promotions showcasing unique sushi creations, offering sushi tasting events, and collaborating with food influencers to create buzz around their sushi offerings.

To retain these customers, the restaurant should focus on consistently delivering high-quality, fresh ingredients, personalized service, and loyalty programs such as sushi loyalty cards or exclusive sushi club memberships, offering discounts and special perks to keep them coming back and feeling valued.

What is the average revenue of a sushi restaurant?

The average monthly revenue for a sushi restaurant can range significantly, typically falling between $5,000 and $50,000, depending on various factors such as location, capacity, and service style. We'll explain these differences through specific examples.

You can also estimate potential earnings for your own sushi establishment using different assumptions with a tailored financial plan for a sushi restaurant.

Case 1: a small, family-run sushi spot in a quiet town

Average monthly revenue: $5,000

This type of sushi restaurant is often a cozy, family-operated establishment located in a small town. It likely offers a limited menu of standard sushi rolls, mainly serving the local population.

Such restaurants usually don't have the luxury of a high customer turnover and generally don’t offer additional services like premium seating or online ordering. Their primary income comes from regular dine-in customers.

Assuming an average pricing of $10 per meal and around 500 meals sold monthly, the expected revenue for this sushi spot would be around $5,000 per month.

Case 2: a modern sushi restaurant in a metropolitan area

Average monthly revenue: $25,000

This sushi restaurant would be situated in a busy urban location, attracting both city dwellers and tourists. It likely features a chic, modern ambiance and offers a diverse menu, including specialty rolls, sashimi, and possibly fusion dishes.

Unlike the small, family-run spot, this restaurant may provide additional services like an exclusive sushi bar experience, online reservations, or even catering services for events. It benefits from a higher customer turnover due to its location.

With more premium pricing, let's say an average of $25 per meal, and around 1,000 meals sold monthly, this type of establishment could generate $25,000 in monthly revenue.

Case 3: a high-end, exclusive sushi restaurant with a renowned chef

Average monthly revenue: $50,000

This category represents a gourmet sushi dining experience, often characterized by its highly skilled chefs, sometimes known for their innovative approach to sushi making. Located in an upscale neighborhood, it attracts a high-end clientele.

This restaurant doesn't just sell food; it sells an experience. From offering exotic fish to chef's table seating, it sets the bar high. It might also provide private dining, elaborate tasting menus, and sake pairing, justifying a higher price point.

Given the exclusivity and quality, the average cost per meal might be $50 or more. If the restaurant serves around 1,000 meals per month (considering it might be a destination where people make reservations far in advance), it would bring in $50,000 per month.

As demonstrated, the location, clientele, service quality, and dining experience significantly influence a sushi restaurant's revenue. Accurate financial planning should consider these variables to project realistic earnings.

business plan sushi restaurant

The profitability metrics of a sushi restaurant

What are the expenses of a sushi restaurant?

Operating a sushi restaurant entails expenses such as sushi ingredients, specialized kitchen equipment, rent or lease payments for the restaurant, staff wages, and marketing.

Category Examples of Expenses Average Monthly Cost (Range in $) Tips to Reduce Expenses
Rent and Utilities Monthly rent, electricity, water, gas $2,500 - $8,000 Negotiate lease terms, consider energy-efficient appliances, and minimize utility usage during non-business hours.
Food Supplies Fish, seafood, rice, vegetables $3,000 - $7,000 Source ingredients from reliable suppliers, reduce food waste through portion control, and manage inventory efficiently.
Employee Wages Sushi chefs, servers, kitchen staff $3,500 - $10,000 Optimize staffing levels, provide training, and offer competitive but cost-effective compensation packages.
Equipment and Maintenance Sushi preparation tools, kitchen equipment, repairs $500 - $2,000 Maintain equipment regularly to prevent costly breakdowns, and consider leasing equipment to reduce upfront costs.
Permits and Licenses Health permits, liquor licenses $200 - $600 Ensure timely renewals and compliance to avoid fines and legal issues.
Marketing and Advertising Website, social media ads, promotions $500 - $1,500 Focus on online marketing, engage with customers on social media, and track marketing ROI.
Insurance Liability insurance, property insurance $200 - $800 Review insurance policies regularly and consider bundling coverage to save on premiums.
Miscellaneous Tableware, cleaning supplies, uniforms $200 - $500 Buy durable tableware, purchase cleaning supplies in bulk, and invest in quality uniforms to reduce replacement costs.

When is a a sushi restaurant profitable?

The breakevenpoint

A sushi restaurant becomes profitable when its total revenue exceeds its total fixed and variable costs.

In simpler terms, it starts making a profit when the money it earns from selling sushi, beverages, and possibly other dishes becomes greater than the expenses it incurs for rent, ingredients, salaries, and other operating costs.

This means that the sushi restaurant has reached a point where it covers all its expenses and starts generating income; we call this the breakeven point.

Consider an example of a sushi restaurant where the monthly fixed costs typically amount to approximately $15,000.

To calculate the breakeven point of a sushi restaurant, one method is to analyze the gross margin on a dish-by-dish basis. Suppose the average cost of preparing a sushi dish (including ingredients, garnishes, and a proportional share of kitchen staff salaries) is $10, and the average selling price is $25. This gives a gross profit of $15 per dish.

Given the monthly fixed costs of $15,000, the restaurant needs to sell 1,000 sushi dishes per month to break even (since $15 profit per dish x 1,000 dishes = $15,000).

You have to know that this indicator can vary widely depending on factors such as location, size, menu prices, operational costs, and competition. A high-end sushi restaurant in a prime location would obviously have a higher breakeven point than a small one in a less expensive area, as it would need more revenue to cover higher expenses.

Curious about the profitability of your restaurant? Try out our user-friendly financial plan crafted for sushi restaurants. Simply input your own assumptions, and it will help you calculate the amount you need to earn in order to run a profitable business.

Biggest threats to profitability

The biggest threats to profitability for a sushi restaurant can include fluctuating seafood prices, as the cost of fresh fish can vary and impact profit margins significantly.

Additionally, competition from other restaurants in the area can lead to lower customer traffic and reduced profits if your sushi restaurant doesn't stand out.

Inefficient inventory management can result in food waste and increased costs.

Health and safety issues, like foodborne illnesses, can damage the restaurant's reputation and result in legal expenses.

Rising overhead costs, such as rent, utilities, and labor, can squeeze profits.

Lastly, economic downturns or unexpected events like the COVID-19 pandemic can reduce customer spending, making it crucial for the restaurant to adapt and find new revenue streams to remain profitable.

These threats are often included in the SWOT analysis for a sushi restaurant.

What are the margins of a sushi restaurant?

Gross margins and net margins are financial metrics used to assess the profitability of a sushi restaurant business.

The gross margin is the difference between the revenue earned from selling sushi and other dishes and the direct costs of making those dishes.

In essence, it's the profit remaining after deducting costs directly tied to the preparation and serving of the food, such as ingredients, chef and server wages, and restaurant utilities.

Net margin, conversely, accounts for all expenses the sushi restaurant bears, including indirect costs like administrative expenses, marketing, rent, and taxes.

Net margin offers a comprehensive view of the restaurant's profitability, encompassing both direct and indirect costs.

Gross margins

Sushi restaurants usually have an average gross margin ranging from 60% to 70%.

For instance, if your sushi restaurant generates $20,000 per month, your gross profit would be roughly 65% x $20,000 = $13,000.

Let's illustrate with an example.

Consider a sushi restaurant that serves 500 customers in a month, with each customer spending on average $40. The total revenue would be $20,000.

However, the restaurant faces costs such as fresh fish, rice, vegetables, condiments, wages, and utilities.

Assuming these costs amount to $7,000, the restaurant's gross profit would be $20,000 - $7,000 = $13,000.

Thus, the gross margin for the restaurant would be $13,000 / $20,000 = 65%.

Net margins

Sushi restaurants typically have an average net margin ranging from 3% to 15%.

In simpler terms, if your restaurant earns $20,000 per month, your net profit might be around $2,000, representing 10% of the total revenue.

We'll use the same example for consistency.

Our sushi restaurant, serving 500 customers with a total revenue of $20,000, incurs direct costs of $7,000.

Beyond that, the restaurant faces various indirect costs, including marketing, insurance, administrative expenses, taxes, and rent. Suppose these additional expenses come to $11,000.

After deducting both direct and indirect costs, the restaurant's net profit is $20,000 - $7,000 - $11,000 = $2,000.

Here, the net margin for the restaurant would be $2,000 divided by $20,000, resulting in 10%.

As a restaurant owner, comprehending the net margin (vs. gross margin) is vital as it delivers a more accurate depiction of the actual earnings of your sushi establishment, reflecting the totality of expenses involved.

business plan sushi restaurant

At the end, how much can you make as a sushi restaurant owner?

As you delve into the sushi restaurant business, understanding your net margin becomes crucial. This figure essentially reveals what portion of your earnings remains after covering all operating costs, indicating your restaurant's profitability.

Your earnings depend significantly on your execution quality, strategic planning, and day-to-day management.

Struggling sushi restaurant owner

Makes $800 per month

If you start a small sushi spot, neglect marketing, offer a very limited menu, and pay little attention to customer service, your total revenue might stall at around $4,000 per month. Especially in a niche like sushi dining, customer experience and food quality are paramount, and failing here can limit your business growth.

Moreover, if your expenses are high due to waste, inefficiencies, or higher supply costs, your net margin might not exceed 20%.

Under these conditions, you'd be bringing in just around $800 per month (20% of $4,000) — hardly a success story in the restaurant world.

Average sushi restaurant owner

Makes $6,000 per month

If you run a decent sushi restaurant with a presentable ambiance, good service, and a reasonably varied menu, your total revenue could jump to $25,000 per month. This scenario assumes you are active in promotion, have regular customers, and perhaps even offer additional services like catering or delivery.

With proper cost control and operations management, you could achieve a net margin of around 30%. This approach involves negotiating with suppliers for better prices, reducing waste, and efficiently managing staff and resources.

This way, you'd be looking at net earnings of about $6,000 per month (30% of $20,000), which is a respectable figure for a mid-range establishment.

Exceptional sushi restaurant owner

Makes $50,000 per month

At the high end, suppose you run a top-tier sushi restaurant. You've invested in a prime location, hired experienced chefs, curated an exceptional menu, and established a strong brand. Your customer service is impeccable, and your restaurant consistently receives rave reviews. As a result, you attract a steady stream of customers, including for high-ticket items like omakase (chef's choice) menus, private events, and premium sake wine pairings.

With a thriving restaurant of this caliber, you could be pulling in as much as $200,000 per month. Because of your reputation and customer loyalty, you have strong negotiating power with suppliers and efficiently manage operational costs, potentially achieving a net margin of about 25%.

For the exceptional sushi restaurant owner, this translates to monthly earnings of around $50,000 (25% of $200,000). That's the kind of success one can achieve with dedication, smart investments, and meticulous attention to every aspect of the restaurant experience.

Ready to roll into the sushi business? Remember, your journey towards becoming an exceptional sushi restaurant owner starts with a comprehensive, well-thought-out business plan!

business plan japanese rice balls
Back to blog