Accounting software is used by businesses to track income and expenses. It’s used by restaurants to do many of the same things, but it can also help track inventory, create invoices, calculate sales tax, price recipes and menus, and integrate with point of sales (POS) systems.
Over 52% of restaurant owners reported that high operating and food costs are some of the biggest challenges they face in running restaurants. Using accounting software can help owners and managers be aware of where their money is going and identify potential savings. Software can also keep track, inventory and profits and properly calculate sales tax to avoid fines.
We reviewed a dozen leading small business accounting software programs and chose the best for restaurants based on features, price, ease of use, and integration options. Here are our top picks.
The 8 Best Accounting Software for Restaurants in 2020
Best Overall: Restaurant365
Released in 2012, Restaurant365 is a cloud-based software solution designed specifically for restaurant owners. It offers a comprehensive platform to meet the needs of restaurants of all sizes, as well as owners ranging from beginners to experienced bookkeepers. We chose Restaurant365 as our best overall accounting software for restaurants because of its robust features, ease of use, and full integration with other systems. It’s made specifically for the restaurant industry and has specific features beneficial to restaurant owners.
Restaurant365 is an accounting software program that combines bookkeeping with restaurant management tools like invoicing, ordering, and staff scheduling. It doesn’t offer payroll services but can be integrated with the payroll company ADP. It is also easily integrated with vendors, POS systems, and financial institutions for automated banking reconciliation.
Some features of Restaurant365 include:
- Accounts receivable and automated accounts payable
- Budgeting and sales forecasting
- Invoice capture
- Franchisee billing and payment collection
- Streamline ordering and fulfilment
- Recipe and catering management
- Inventory management
- Employee scheduling
- Manager log book with sales data and document storage
- POS, bank, vendor, and payroll integration
Pricing for Restaurant365 is broken down into tiers and starts at $249 per location per month and goes up to $459 per location per month. Both the Core Operations Plan and the Core Accounting Plan are $249 per month and are primarily focused on operating or accounting aspects of the business. The Essential Plan costs $369 per location per month and includes accounting, scheduling, and inventory tracking features. The Professional Plan is the top-tier option and costs $459 per location per month. It includes scheduling, inventory and accounting features, as well as labor, analytics, and custom financial reports. If you want to see which plan best suits your needs, you can contact Restaurant365 directly via live chat, email, or phone.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: QuickBooks Online
In 2001, Intuit launched QuickBooks Online as a packaged software. The program is constantly being updated and improved and is ideal for restaurant owners with little to no accounting or bookkeeping experience who want to manage their own books. It is known to be easy to use and can be integrated with your financial institution and is also compatible with most major POS systems. However, since it’s not specific to the restaurant industry, it may take a little longer to set it up and customize it to your specific restaurant’s needs.
We chose QuickBooks Online as our runner-up because, while it isn’t designed specifically for restaurants, it offers an impressive lineup of features, including add-on payroll services. It’s also extremely easy to use for owners with no accounting or bookkeeping experience.
QuickBooks Online offers the following features:
- Miles, income, and expense tracking
- Invoice creation and accepting payments
- Maximum tax deductions
- Enhanced reports
- Receipt organization
- Sales tax tracking
- Manage bills and employees
- Inventory tracking
- Online training
- Automated workflow
- Payroll as an add-on feature
Pricing for QuickBooks Online starts at $7.50 per month and goes up to $75 per month. It offers plans for all types of operations, including sole proprietors, LLCs, partnerships, corporations, and nonprofits. A Self-Employed plan includes tracking for miles, income, and expenses, as well as capturing and organizing receipts, estimating quarterly taxes, invoicing clients, accepting payments, and running basic reports. However, QuickBooks has a variety of plans that offer different features depending on your business structure. You can contact them via phone or through their site to discuss your business needs and budget.
Best for Beginners: Restaurant Solutions
Founded in 2000, Restaurant Solutions, Inc. (RSI) is specifically tailored to the hospitality industry. Its flagship product is the Lester Hospitality Specific Accounting Program, which can be used by different types of restaurants and works for all owners, regardless of their level of accounting knowledge. RSI’s program is a cloud-based system that’s built for both independent restaurant owners and franchisees. Its goal is to provide a cost-effective management system backed by a team of experts that teaches owners the tools they need to run a hospitality business. It also offers payroll services and can easily be integrated with financial institutions and POS systems.
We chose RSI as our best restaurant accounting software for beginners because it’s easy to set up and simple to use. It has industry-leading accountants and tax specialists that offer training programs on the platform, and the software includes payroll and sales tax payments that keep you in compliance.
Some specific features offered by RSI’s platform include:
- Accounts payable and receivable
- Payroll services
- Taxes and bank reconciliations
- Access to training and education programs
- Employee management
- Cash management solutions
- Corporate accountability and multiple user logins
- Pricing and menu engineering
- Sales and inventory analysis reports and more
RSI’s pricing varies by restaurant type, number of employees, and features included. To get a quote, you can contact RSI directly via phone or online.
Best for Food Trucks: TouchBistro
TouchBistro is an iPad-based POS system built by restaurant owners for restaurant owners. The company’s primary goals are to make managing your restaurant easier, make more money, and deliver a positive experience to your customers. It was founded in 2010 and is used in over 100 countries. It can be used by new and experienced restaurant owners, whether they’re beginners or experts at accounting and bookkeeping. It can also be integrated with payroll companies or QuickBooks, for those who need more thorough accounting services.
We chose TouchBistro as the best option for food truck owners because it’s an iPad system that’s portable and can be operated easily on a truck’s wifi. It’s also easy to set up, can be integrated with different systems, and offers robust features specific to food truck owners. However, if you need in-depth accounting services, you will need to integrate with QuickBooks or choose another accounting software for restaurants.
Specifically, TouchBistro offers the following features:
- Restaurant inventory management
- Calculate ingredient-level food costs
- Determine profit margins of menu items
- Payment processing options
- Tableside ordering
- Floor plan and table management
- Staff management and scheduling
- Menu and promotion management
- Manage customer accounts
- Basic accounting data
TouchBistro offers multiple monthly plans, with pricing that starts at $50 per month and goes up to $229 per month. There aren’t any long-term contracts, and you can contact TouchBistro directly to find out which plan is right for you.
Best Features: Xero
Xero is a cloud-based small business accounting program that’s often considered as an alternative to QuickBooks Online. It was founded in 2006 in New Zealand and is used around the world. It has tools for managing invoices, bank reconciliation, purchases, expenses, inventory, and more. It can be used for different types of small businesses and isn’t specific to restaurants, so you may need to take your time setting up the software and creating restaurant-specific processes. It can be used by new or experienced restaurant owners and those who have no accounting knowledge or who are bookkeeping pros. It includes payroll processing, so it makes it easy to pay employees, and it can be integrated with banking and POS systems.
We chose Xero as our restaurant software with the best features because of the sheer number of useful tools that it offers. All of the program's features are easy to use, including payroll services, a mobile app, and real-time reporting. It also can be used on the go and easily integrates with over 800 apps.
Once you get set up, Xero offers:
- Payroll processing
- Vendor bill payment
- Inventory management
- Income and expense tracking
- Intuitive online accounting
- Autopilot tasks
- Bank reconciliation and invoicing
- A mobile app
- Up-to-date financial reports
- Real-time cash management
- Expense claim management
Pricing for Xero ranges from $9 to $60 per month, and you can try each one with unlimited users free for 30 days. The $9/month plan is called Early and includes five invoices, reconciles 20 bank transactions, and captures bills and receipts. The next step up is the Growing plan for $30 per month, which includes unlimited bank transaction reconciliations, invoices, bills, and receipts. The top-tier plan is the Established plan, which costs $60 per month and also includes multi-currency reports, expenses, and project management. For more information on specific plans and pricing contact Xero online.
Best Price: ZipBooks
Founded in 2015, ZipBooks is simple accounting software that can be used for any industry. It’s not restaurant-specific, so you will need to set up any customizations that you require. It’s best for restaurant owners who are looking for a budget-friendly software. The software helps balance your books so you can spend time doing other things for your restaurant. It offers a free option with limited features, as well as paid plans that include more robust features. It can be used by owners with beginner level accounting knowledge, as well as those with a more advanced understanding of accounting. It can be integrated with your POS and bank and offers payroll services.
We chose ZIpBooks as our accounting software for restaurants with the best price because it offers a free option, which is great if you want to try it out or only need limited features. It also offers other monthly plans that are affordable, and some of them come with free trials.
Some of ZipBooks' features include:
- Complete accounting solutions that are simple to use
- Automated expense tracking
- One-time and recurring billing
- Full suite of insights and financial reports
- Customer and vendor management
- Accept digital payments
- Communicate with customers on the platform
- Share documents and store them in a secure place
- Organize and customize books with a tagging system
ZipBooks offers a tiered pricing system; the first tier is Starter and is free, while the next tiers are $15 per month, $35 per month, and custom-priced (for the top-tier offering). Each tier includes specific features and a certain number of users, so it’s best to contact ZipBooks directly to see if one of their existing tiers is right for your business or if you want to customize your own plan.
Best for Paying Sales Tax: DAVO
DAVO was created in 2001 as a way to remedy pain points between the payee and the payor and it’s expanded into full-service accounting software. It automates every step of the sales tax process and can be easily integrated with your POS. DAVO is right for owners with limited and advanced accounting knowledge and it guarantees that your taxes will be paid on time and in full, so you don’t need to worry about any fines involved with missing deadlines.
It takes data from your POS and can automate your sales tax in as little as five minutes. It doesn’t include payroll services or some of the features available in other accounting software, so you may want to use it in addition to one of the other software options. It can be downloaded on your POS or used from the site.
DAVO offers the following:
- Enter sales on your POS and it collects and sets aside sales tax
- Sales tax is transferred to its secured holding account
- Automatically files state sales tax so they’re on time
- Automatically pays the sales tax due from the amount that was set aside
- It uses storage encryption on all data
- Daily reporting and account access
- Cloud backups and rapid data recovery
Your first month with DAVO is free and then it’s $39.99 per month per location. There aren’t any extra fees or long-term contracts. Live setup assistance and ongoing tech support are included. If you live in one of the states that offer on-time sales tax discounts, DAVO will pass that on to you.
We chose DAVO as our best accounting software for paying sales tax for restaurants. It’s a niche product that is designed to seamlessly calculate and pay your sales tax on time and in full while taking advantage of any applicable discounts. If you need more accounting, bookkeeping, or management services, you may consider using DAVO in addition to other accounting software for restaurants.
Best for Automation: Plate IQ
Founded in 2014 as an automated system for invoice processing and accounts payable, Plate IQ is for both beginner and advanced bookkeepers and accountants, as well as small and large establishments. Plate IQ is used by multiple industries, including restaurants, restaurant accounting firms, groceries, and hotels. It’s not solely made for the restaurant industry but has helped over 10,000 restaurant owners. It can also be integrated with more than 100 other programs, including accounting systems, vendors and inventory companies, as well as payroll companies. It can even be used to generate custom integrations, if necessary.
Plate IQ was our choice for the best automated restaurant accounting software because it automates processes for the restaurant owner so they can focus on other tasks. Using Plate IQ, restaurant owners and managers can automate invoices and accounts payable systems all on one platform. It can be used on its own, integrated with other products, or used in combination with other accounting software for restaurants.
Plate IQ includes features such as:
- Automatically capture invoice data including handwritten invoices
- Coding by line item
- Sync with current accounting and inventory software
- Problem alerts
- Reconcile vendor statements
- Automated accounts payable and receivable
- Email vendors from the platform
- Timely insights on spending
Pricing for Plate IQ isn’t provided on its website. Instead, you’ll need to contact the company for custom pricing based on your specific needs.
What Is Accounting Software for Restaurants?
Accounting software helps businesses manage and track their financial transactions. It is used to record and process accounting procedures such as accounts payable and receivable, payroll, invoices, and inventory. Running a successful restaurant has a seemingly endless array of moving parts, and finding the right software helps with automating some of them, keeping up with tax laws and deadlines, and avoiding fines.
These systems are organized, efficient ways to keep track of your business finances and can be used instead of or in addition to a bookkeeper or accountant.
Why Do Restaurants Need Accounting Software?
Restaurant owners typically handle accounting in one of three ways: they do it themselves manually, they use a bookkeeper or accountant, or they use accounting software. Unless you have a strong accounting background, keeping a restaurant’s books manually isn’t usually a good idea. A small restaurant with one location and an owner-operator with very few employees may be able to get away with keeping track of their own records and meeting with an accountant quarterly. However, restaurants, food trucks, and catering businesses are generally better-served by using accounting software. This software saves owners a lot of time and money. It helps them meet certain tax deadlines, calculate and pay sales tax, and meet payroll compliance guidelines. Accounting software for restaurants also automates bank reconciliation, processes payroll, automates sales tax payments, creates invoices, and keeps track of inventory.
How Much Does Restaurants Accounting Software Cost?
Just as restaurants range from small spaces with one or two employees to large venues that employ hundreds, accounting software for restaurants varies, too. Costs typically range from $7.50 per month for basic accounting features up to $459 per month for more comprehensive, automated systems. Some software includes payroll services, while others offer it as an add-on with monthly and per-employee costs. These typically start around $20 per month plus $4 per employee.
How Is Software Different for Restaurants?
Accounting software for restaurants offers the same features that are available from typical small business accounting software, including payroll, tax preparation, accounts receivable and accounts payable management, and receipt and document storage and organization. However, restaurant software also offers features that help with managing and tracking inventory, tracking and paying sales tax, staff scheduling, floor plan and table management, and recipe and menu pricing.
How We Chose the Best Accounting Software for Restaurants
We looked at a dozen business accounting software systems and reviewed each for pricing, features, ease of use, integration options, and automation. We focused on those features that we considered the most important for restaurant owners (like inventory tracking, invoice management, and POS integration) to identify the best accounting software options for restaurants.
Toast. "Restaurant Success Report." Accessed July 1, 2020.