How to Set Up QuickBooks for Restaurants

By Avery Martin

Track your finances and stay on top of special service industry taxes.
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QuickBooks accounting software allows you to manage your business' customers, vendors and employees. Restaurants that must account for employee taxes, tips and food inventory can use the company setup wizard to create the basic accounts needed. QuickBooks provides a way to access your chart of accounts, employee, vendor and customer lists using one central list. Generally, restaurants don't need to track individual customers. However, you may wish to add certain customer groups when serving a large party or catering event.

Initial Setup and Company Lists

Click the "Express Start" button if you have never used QuickBooks before. Otherwise, click the "File" menu and "New Company."

Provide the requested information about your business. Enter your relevant company information in the Company Name, Street Address, City, Country, Phone, Email Address, Website and Tax ID Number fields. Click "Next."

Select "Help Me Choose" for the Industry type field. Select "Restaurant, Caterer, or Bar." Click "Next."

Select your company type from the list of options. Restaurants may be classified as a Partnership, Corporation, S-Corporation or another option that fits your business organization type. Click "Next."

Click the "My Fiscal Year Starts In" drop-down menu and select the month in which your company begins its fiscal year. Click "Next."

Most companies start in January. If you run a seasonal restaurant, such as a ski lodge or mountain resort, select the first month you conduct business.

Click "Create Company File" and "Start Working."

Click the "Lists" menu and "Add/Edit Multiple List Entries."

Select the "List" drop-down menu and choose "Customers," "Vendors" or "Items" list.

You'll need to repeat this process to set up your customers, vendors and items list. Items are products you sell.

Click the first empty row and provide the details for your first entry. This may be the Customer Name in the Customers list, a Vendor's Name in the Vendors list or the Item Name in the Item list. Click "Save Changes."

Create Classes

Click the "Lists" menu and select "Class List."

Click the "Class" button.

Type a name for the class. You could create a class for a specific restaurant location or a specific department, such as catering.

Click "Next" to enter another class, or select "OK" to save and close the Class list.

When entering customer transactions, select the appropriate class on the bill or invoice.


Click the "Lists" menu and "Payroll Item List."

Select "Payroll Item." Click "New."

Select "EZ Setup." Click "Next."

Click "Compensation." Click "Next."

Select "Tips." Click "Next."

Select "Allocated Tips (Not Common)" and click "Finish."

Double-click the item in the Payroll Item List. Change the name of the account to something recognizable, such as Tips.

Select the "Expense Account" option.

Enter a default rate. This rate could be "0," if you want to manually enter tip payments for each employee. Click "Finish."


When running payroll, select the Tips item and manually enter the amount to include on the paycheck to reflect tip earnings, if you choose to manually enter tips.


Information in this article applies to QuickBooks 2013. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.