7 Permits You Must Have Before Opening Your Restaurant

Hey, all! We’re jumping around a bit in our Opening a Restaurant series but, in this case, it’s a good idea. This is a great list put together by Eric Norberg over at Sirvo detailing many of the licenses and permits you’ll need before you open.

Read Eric’s full article here.

These are high priorities.

Quite frankly, I’m glad I came across Eric’s article. Obtaining these are extremely important and I should have addressed this much earlier.

One reason is because they all will have fees associated with them and you’ll want to factor those fees into the cost section of your business plan.

Also, some of them will have a waiting period that cannot be avoided. From personal experience, the liquor license is one that can take longer than anticipated. Trust me, you don’t want to open up without a beer & wine or a liquor license.

That’s a reputation killer.

First impressions are important in this business.

The Licenses and Permits

Eric put together a pretty comprehensive list for us. Click on each list item. You’ll find I’ve linked to the appropriate pages to get you started or to give you more information on how to obtain your licenses.

Business License – Use the US Small Business Administration site as your main source for all of your business information.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) – This link will take you to the IRS site.

Certificate of Occupancy – This differs around the country. This page gives a general rundown of what this is, the process, and what you’ll need to get the certificate.

Food Service License – I’ve found Learn2Serve to be a great resource.

Liquor License – This varies around the world. This particular link will explain how to get your license in Texas where you’ll find some of the most stringent liquor laws in the U.S. However, the basic principals and procedures will be similar where you are.

Music License – Make sure you’re allowed to play the music you’re playing according to local copyright laws. Follow the link to read more.

Some cities have ordinances governing how loud music can be and at what times of day loud music can be played. Here’s a link to the Houston Noise Ordinance as an example.

Sign Permit – This is another link to the Houston city codes. About halfway down the page, you’ll see the About section detailing the need for this permit and what the application process is. It should be similar in your city.

A few more you may need.

Depending on where you live, you and your managers may be required to have certain licenses before you’re allowed to serve food or drinks to your customers.

Here in Houston, it’s a law that at least one manager in the building at all times needs to have a food handler safety permit. Of course one manager can’t work every day, all the time, so it’s best to have the whole management team obtain this license.

Another that we’re all required to have is called a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) License. Before a Front of House employee serves a patron an alcoholic beverage protect your business by requiring all of them to take this safety course.

Check with your local health department to find out what your city or state requires in order to ensure your employees can safely serve food and alcohol.

Make sure you get all the information you can.

The best thing you can do is consult with your local chamber of commerce or health department. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction to make sure you’ve got everything you need to open on day one.

Of course, I’m always here for you, too. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to share them with me and our fellow readers. If you know anyone who could use this info, please share this article with them.

See you soon!


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