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Updated May 16, 2024

The Best Accounting Software for Restaurants in 2024

Accounting tools from popular providers like QuickBooks and Xero can help you manage your restaurant's bills, sales and inventory.

Mike Berner
Written By: Mike BernerSenior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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A business.com editor verified this analysis to ensure it meets our standards for accuracy, expertise and integrity.
Best for Small Restaurants
Intuit QuickBooks Online
Quickbooks logo
  • Plans start at $15 per month
  • Online bookkeeper available
  • Robust app integration
USALinks to Intuit QuickBooks Online
Visit Site
  • Plans start at $15 per month
  • Online bookkeeper available
  • Robust app integration
Best for Growing Restaurants
Xero Accounting Software
  • Plans start at $13 per month
  • 1,000 integrations
  • Automated inventory processes
  • Plans start at $13 per month
  • 1,000 integrations
  • Automated inventory processes
Best for Process Automation
Zoho Books
Zoho Books logo
  • Plans start at $20 per month
  • Custom functions
  • Support for online payments
  • Plans start at $20 per month
  • Custom functions
  • Support for online payments
Best for Report Generation
ZarMoney
  • Plans start at $15 per month
  • 40 built-in reports
  • Connections with 9,600 banks
  • Plans start at $15 per month
  • 40 built-in reports
  • Connections with 9,600 banks
Best for Customization
Sage Business Cloud Accounting
  • Plans start at $10 per month
  • Unlimited users
  • Tailored business solutions
  • Plans start at $10 per month
  • Unlimited users
  • Tailored business solutions

Table of Contents

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business.com has spent years leading business owners to the software and services needed to run their enterprises efficiently. Our recommendations are based on an in-depth review process in which we question vendors, try solutions ourselves and seek user testimonials. Each evaluation is checked by a top editor prior to publication to ensure it is bias-free and error-free.

To determine the best accounting software for restaurants, we looked for solutions that could track transactions, ingredient purchase orders and vendor bills. We also prioritized software that could integrate with POS systems and credit card processors for seamless recordkeeping. We tested each vendor’s tools and preferred solutions with automation capabilities and reporting features for accurate and insightful financial management. Of course, pricing factored into our assessments as well. Learn more about our methodology and editorial process.

Sound financial management depends heavily on your choice of accounting software, which plays a leading role in maintaining your restaurant’s operations. Accounting software should align with your budget, offer user-friendly functionality and integrate seamlessly with existing programs and applications. To assist you in navigating the extensive array of choices, we performed a deep dive into the leading accounting software solutions for restaurants. We examined their features, prices, fees and reputations to come up with the five best options for restaurant owners.

What Is Restaurant Accounting Software?

Accounting software helps you effectively manage your restaurant’s finances. It excels at capturing and evaluating your company’s financial information. Top accounting software also enables you to keep tabs on transactions, produce reports, manage interactions with diners and vendors, generate purchase orders, monitor inventory levels and keep a vigilant watch over account balances. By organizing your financial data systematically, accounting software provides valuable insights into your restaurant’s performance.

Compare Our Best Picks

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Our Top Picks for 2024
Intuit QuickBooks Online
Xero Accounting Software
Zoho Books
ZarMoney
Sage Business Cloud Accounting
Rating (Out of 10)9.49.19.18.19.0
Best use case

Small businesses

Growing restaurants

Process automation

Report generation

Customization

Base price

$15 per month

$13 per month

$20 per month

$15 per month

$10 per month

Invoicing and payments?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Invoicing

Number of clients supported on base plan

Unlimited

Unlimited (monthly limit of 20 invoices)

10

Unlimited

Unlimited

Free trial

30 days

30 days

30 days

14 days

30 days

Mobile app?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Third-party integrations?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Reporting?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Automated accounting tools?

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Review Link
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Reviews

Quickbooks logo
  • QuickBooks Online offers many valuable features, including expense tracking and cash flow management.
  • If you need more technical help, QuickBooks Live Bookkeeper can connect you with an experienced professional.
  • Transitioning from the Self-Employed plan to a higher-tier option is not possible.
Editor's Rating: 9.4/10
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Intuit’s QuickBooks Online is our top recommendation for small restaurants. Its robust cloud-based features, extensive integration capabilities, cost-effectiveness and esteemed reputation make it an excellent choice for any restaurant owner.

We like that QuickBooks’ entry-level plan encompasses numerous features often charged separately by other providers. These include payment acceptance, expense tracking and cash flow management. Higher-tier plans offer additional advantages, such as business analytics, dedicated support, on-demand online training and integration possibilities with BILL, Salesforce and HubSpot.

Another standout feature is QuickBooks’ ability to connect users with accounting professionals through QuickBooks Live Bookkeeper. With a track record spanning over two decades, QuickBooks is a familiar name for every U.S. accountant. Its leading market share and widespread adoption among accountants and consultants make QuickBooks a trusted choice for restaurant owners

  • Xero boasts more than 1,000 third-party app integrations.
  • 24/7 email and live chat support are available.
  • Not all accountants in the United States are familiar with Xero.
Editor's Rating: 9.1/10

Frequently, restaurants start small. These days, many restaurant owners start as mobile vendors before moving to a fixed location. As a restaurant grows, its financial needs also change. Xero serves these growing restaurants with a pricing structure and plan features based on size.

As your restaurant evolves, you might find that additional apps are necessary to run your operations. With a comprehensive range of more than 1,000 integrations, Xero interfaces seamlessly with many popular business software applications. Xero’s software also empowers you to generate more than 50 diverse reports, encompassing essential metrics like profit and loss (P&L) statements, aged receivables and a general ledger. Moreover, the software extends customizable and flexible reporting alternatives. Notably, you can manage your customer and supplier interactions efficiently, neatly categorizing them into various groups.

The user-friendliness of Xero stands out, making it a preferred choice for restaurant owners who aren’t familiar with accounting concepts. Its interactive dashboard presents critical information through graphs and charts, making your financial data easy to understand and digest. Xero also offers insights into pending invoices, upcoming bills and a historical record of your bank account balance.

Whether your restaurant is in its nascent stages or experiencing growth, Xero provides a range of plans and features tailored to meet your evolving needs. The software is easy to use and adapts alongside you, making it our best pick for growing restaurant businesses.

Zoho Books logo
  • Zoho Books is available as a mobile app, allowing you to manage your finances on the move.
  • You can monitor bills, handle vendor credits and affix reporting tags to transactions.
  • The top-tier plan imposes a cap of 100,000 transactions per month.
Editor's Rating: 9.1/10

The restaurant industry is widely regarded as one of the toughest for small business owners. Many restaurants operate on a budget, making price a significant factor when choosing accounting software. In a business that is all about execution, accounting software that automates financial tasks can prove especially useful. In this context, Zoho Books emerged as our best pick for automating accounting processes.

Zoho Books is user-friendly accounting software that delivers tons of features at an affordable price. The software’s mobile apps are available for phones, tablets and smartwatches, enabling you to perform accounting tasks from anywhere.

Most importantly, the software distinguishes itself with its unparalleled ability to automate accounting tasks. Zoho boasts a proprietary programming language called Deluge, which can be used to build custom accounting tools and automation. Deluge is designed for non-programmers, although Zoho offers users access to a technical team that can help you create what you need. The capacity to eliminate mundane, error-prone tasks makes Zoho Books our recommendation for streamlining processes.

Zoho Books caters to restaurants at every stage of growth. Plans range from $15 per month for three users to $240 per month for 15 users. We like that there’s also a free version available for a single user, which you don’t see with more popular competitors, such as Xero and QuickBooks.

  • ZarMoney boasts 40 built-in reports.
  • You can sync your accounting software with 9,600 banks in the U.S. and Canada.
  • ZarMoney doesn’t offer cash-basis reports.
Editor's Rating: 8.1/10

ZarMoney stands out as the best choice for report generation. This accounting software can deliver a treasure trove of essential reports and operational data to restaurant owners, surpassing the insights of more widely recognized software like QuickBooks. ZarMoney provides 40 built-in reports and many customizable options, which we think data-minded restaurant owners will appreciate.

The accounts receivable (AR) tool within ZarMoney empowers users to manage estimates and sales orders. Its array of payment management and tracking services enables restaurants to accept payments in the modern digital age. ZarMoney also integrates seamlessly with more than 9,600 financial institutions across the U.S. and Canada. This allows you to sync bank transactions with your accounting software for user review and adjustment. ZarMoney’s capabilities extend to batch deposits for checks, cash and credit card sales, including sales tax calculations and the seamless transfer of funds between banks.

ZarMoney sticks to a straightforward pricing model based on user count. It offers three distinct plans, ranging from $15 per month for individual users to $350 per month for groups of 30 or more users.

  • Sage doesn’t impose a cap on the number of users.
  • 24/7 support exists for users, including access to accounting professionals.
  • You can accept invoice payments through Stripe.
Editor's Rating: 9/10

Many restaurants require a customized solution for their accounting needs. This is Sage’s competitive edge. Its capacity for tailoring a solution via software development sets it apart from cookie-cutter solutions offered by other mass-market rivals. This positions Sage as our best ultimate choice for customization.

The entry-level Sage Accounting Start plan allows you to generate invoices and automate bank reconciliation. For a more comprehensive toolkit, the full Sage Accounting plan lets you forecast cash flow, handle purchase invoices and much more. We also like that the Sage Accounting plan allows unlimited users, which is not the case with QuickBooks and most other competitors.

We found that Sage’s cloud-based platform is easy to set up, with a simple learning curve. Automation features include posting expenses and payments, streamlined invoice management and tracking and establishing reminders and alerts. The Sage ecosystem integrates with multiple business applications, including AutoEntry, Draycir, Avalara and Credit Hound.

Pricing for Restaurant Accounting Software

The accounting software providers we list here offer a variety of plans to suit restaurant businesses of varying sizes. In general, pricing plans differ based on features and the number of people who can use the software.

A subscription pricing model involves recurring monthly or annual charges for the services provided. This model ensures immediate access to all software updates upon their release. Based on the chosen service package, subscription prices vary from $5 to $60 per month.

Exercise caution regarding potential hidden fees. These charges often manifest in areas, such as online payment acceptance, software integrations and technical support services. Consider your expectations from an accounting system before you begin your search and avoid paying for features you don’t need.

Features of Restaurant Accounting Software

Restaurant accounting software often provides functionalities like AR, accounts payable (AP), banking and reporting. Some services extend their offerings to encompass inventory management, project management, time tracking and payroll. Here are some of the key features of accounting software you should consider before pulling the trigger on software for your restaurant.

Bank Feed

This establishes a connection between your business bank and credit card accounts, allowing for daily updates on transactions. This streamlined approach eliminates the need for manual statement uploads. It also simplifies bank reconciliation, transforming it into a manageable daily task rather than a monthly ordeal.

Dashboard

Upon logging in, the dashboard greets you with an overview of account activities and key metrics such as cash flow, P&L, account balances, expenses, AP, AR and sales. Some software allows you to customize the dashboard based on personal preferences.

Bank Reconciliation

Accounting software takes away the monotony of reconciling a business bank account. Advanced reconciliation tools identify potential matches between bank transactions and entered bills and invoices, expediting the process and eliminating the need for extensive record review.

Did You Know?Did you know
Bank reconciliation is the process of checking your recorded transactions against bank statements.

Integrations

Many restaurants now use a variety of business apps to increase productivity, both at the front and back of the house. Ensuring these apps interface with each other is critical, especially in an era of rising restaurant labor costs. Integrating your accounting software with top payroll software services, payment processors, point-of-sale (POS) systems and customer relationship management software helps you to optimize efficiency.

Online Invoicing for Catered Events

Accounting software provides the ability to send invoices to clients for catered events via email, as well as to accept online payments to expedite the payment process. Some accounting software services integrate with third-party payment processors, while others use their in-house processing services.

Recurring Invoices

This feature empowers you to automate invoices for recurring catering clients. Recurring invoicing tools generally allow you to choose the frequency, including daily, weekly, monthly or annually, with the option to specify an end date for billing.

Automatic Payment Reminders

Automated reminders for upcoming and overdue payments help prevent unpaid invoices. Some software includes prewritten email templates for reminders, which can be customized to your specifications. The timing of reminders can be personalized, with the option to send thank you emails to customers after payments are received. For customers who are repeat offenders, some accounting solutions provide ways to charge interest and late fees on unpaid invoices.

Perishable Inventory Management

Accounting software that includes inventory tracking and purchase order management is essential for restaurants that keep a lot of perishable inventory on hand. This feature may require opting for a higher-tier plan.

Support for Multiple Restaurants

This feature is helpful if you own multiple restaurant locations or other types of businesses. Certain accounting software services allow the addition of multiple businesses to a single account.

Financial Reporting

Every accounting program generates financial reports, though the complexity and inclusiveness may vary. Ensure that your chosen program and plan offer the specific financial reports required for informed decision-making.

Mobile Apps

Not all accounting and invoicing software offers mobile apps. For those that do, the features can vary greatly. Functions can range from expense tracking and receipt capture to invoice creation and transmission, often mirroring the capabilities of web-based software. This can be beneficial if you aim to run your business from a smartphone.

How to Choose Restaurant Accounting Software

Accounting software for restaurant owners ranges from basic freeware to expensive custom solutions. The best choice depends on the size of your restaurant, as well as your financial needs and goals.

1. Conduct preliminary research.

First, put together a preliminary list of the leading accounting software services for restaurants. Our guide identifies five great choices for restaurant owners. You can also check out our full list of the best accounting software for small businesses. Furthermore, you should decide how many users from your restaurant will need access to the software, as many services limit the number of users or charge for additional users.

2. Decide on a budget.

Most accounting software services follow a tiered pricing model, with several preset plans offering an increasing number of features. It helps to decide how much you can spend before you begin your search. Knowing what you can afford can either expand or limit your choices.

3. Identify your restaurant’s accounting and invoicing needs.

Is your restaurant a single location or a small chain with multiple locations? Do you only serve food onsite and get paid at the POS or do you also send invoices to catering clients? These questions will determine which features you need in your accounting and invoicing software. Make sure that you review each plan offered by the provider and ensure that it contains the tools that you need for your restaurant’s individual needs.

4. Consider customer reviews.

Customer testimonials are an important source of unbiased information. Review platforms such as Trustpilot can provide insight into a company’s customer service and how the company resolves issues. This is especially important for a technical product, such as accounting software. Many software companies have outsourced their customer service departments or switched to automated systems. Many restaurant owners don’t have time to wait around for assistance, so this is a factor that you should consider.

5. Search for free trials.

Many accounting software services provide free trials for up to four weeks. Testing the software before committing is an easy decision if the option is available. At the very least, schedule a demo with the company so you can see the software in action.

Benefits of Accounting Software for Restaurants

Managing your restaurant’s finances is a substantial undertaking. However, the appropriate accounting software can help you meet the challenge. Here are several key advantages to adopting accounting software:

It helps organize your restaurant’s finances

The typical restaurant deals with dozens if not hundreds of diners per day. This large number of transactions can become very unwieldy if you don’t keep organized. Accounting software can sync with credit card processors and POS devices to keep daily records of your sales, cash flow and more. Many labor-intensive accounting procedures, such as bank reconciliation, can also be automated using accounting software, reducing the chances of mistakes.

Beats spreadsheet programs

Spreadsheets are digital files employed for structuring data into rows and columns. Popular spreadsheet programs include Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. Spreadsheets offer a cost-effective solution for smaller restaurant operations, such as food trucks and market stalls. However, for a brick-and-mortar restaurant or a restaurant with multiple locations, dedicated accounting software is a wiser choice to address more complex financial needs.

Generates invoices for catering clients

Not all restaurants need invoicing capabilities, but this is a helpful feature if you deal with many catering clients. A professional-looking invoice is essential to getting paid. Many accounting software services double as invoice generators, allowing you to send invoices via email and get paid online. Often, the invoices can be customized with your restaurant’s branding.

Keeps track of perishable inventory and food costs

Restaurants must constantly order and reorder food, cooking supplies and other items used in daily operations. Accounting software helps keep track of what you paid for your inventory, which is necessary for calculating P&L.

TipBottom line
Accounting software can calculate the cost of goods sold (COGS). In a  restaurant, this consists of food and ingredients used to prepare meals.

Allows you to calculate accounts payable

Many restaurants have dedicated suppliers for their perishable goods. Accounting software keeps track of what you owe and automates payment to suppliers, ensuring you don’t fall behind on bills and damage relations with partners.

Helps you comply with tax laws

Navigating business taxation can overwhelm small restaurant owners. Many states charge meal tax, which restaurant owners must collect. The labor-intensive nature of the business means that restaurants must also deal with tax laws regarding employees. Accounting software streamlines tax filing by eliminating uncertainty. Numerous programs facilitate meal tax calculation, prepare a variety of tax forms and handle the filing process. This frees you to focus your attention on your food and business operations.

Did You Know?Did you know
The Section 179 deduction permits businesses to deduct the full purchase price of accounting assets financed during the tax year. Learn more about avenues for small businesses to optimize tax savings.

Improves Internal Controls

Internal controls refer to the protocols and mechanisms instituted by organizations to safeguard the integrity of accounting and bookkeeping practices. Many restaurants are still cash-based businesses, which means that having proper procedures in place is essential. Accounting software enhances the reliability of your internal controls, which helps to prevent employee accounting fraud.

>> Learn More: 5 Restaurant Employee Scams That Will Cost Your Business Big

Accounting Software FAQs

Cash-basis accounting is the most common accounting method used by restaurants. This means that restaurants record income when they receive cash for the food and service that they provide for customers. However, the accrual method may work better if your restaurant generates more than $1 million in annual sales. Be sure to read more about the difference between cash-basis and accrual accounting.

Restaurant owners must deal with many issues that relate directly to accounting, including staff pay, inventory management and expense control. It is best to find a bookkeeper who understands the behind-the-scenes complexity of running a restaurant.

COGS is an accounting term that refers to the total cost of food and ingredients used to prepare a meal. COGS is a component of the P&L statement. Accounting software can help you keep track of COGS and manage your food costs.

Third-party delivery apps, such as Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats, send you money after subtracting fees, sales tax and other costs. You must track sales from these third-party apps separately from your direct sales to ensure accurate accounting.

The first-in, first-out (FIFO) method is widely considered the best way for restaurants to value inventory. Because restaurants often turn over perishable inventory quickly, it makes more sense to use a method that links inventory to its original cost.

Mike Berner
Written By: Mike BernerSenior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Mike Berner brings to business.com over half a decade of experience as a finance expert, having previously served as an economic analyst for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. His expertise lies in conducting quantitative analysis and research, providing invaluable guidance for navigating the modern financial landscape. Berner, who has a bachelor's degree in economics and a bachelor of business administration in finance, enjoys simplifying complicated financial concepts for entrepreneurs and business owners. From deciphering the intricacies of business loans and accounting to identifying the best payroll systems and credit card processors, he offers comprehensive insights tailored to meet diverse business needs. Beyond dedicating himself to exploring and evaluating the latest financial solutions, Berner has also become adept at explaining how businesses can take advantage of artificial intelligence tools. His passion for sharing knowledge extends to various platforms, including Substack, TikTok and YouTube, where he imparts tips and strategies on topics like sales tactics, savvy investing and tax saving.
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