5 Licenses and Permits Needed to Open a Restaurant

If you’re thinking about opening your own restaurant, you will need to do some research before anything else. While running a restaurant can be a rewarding venture, there are some steps you need to take before embarking on your dream restaurant journey. Depending on the type of food service operation you want to open, you may have to apply for some additional permits. You will need to decide if you are going to allow liquor sales within your restaurant or have a live entertainment option, as these require additional permits aside from the standard issue licenses and permits you will need to acquire before opening. Here are some common permits and applications you might need to file if you’re interested in opening your very own restaurant.

Employer Identification Number

Since restaurants have many employees, you will need to apply for an employer identification number (EIN). This is the first step in identifying your business to the government in order to file appropriate taxes for your business and on behalf of your employees. While this is a free process, it may take several weeks for your application to be processed and approved. Therefore, you will need to plan your timeline accordingly as the EIN will be necessary in order to file many of the other required permits/licenses prior to opening.

Business License

A business license is a state regulated license required of anyone owning a business, especially a restaurant. While this license is state regulated, you may need to apply for the federal level business license if you plan on transporting animals, planting products, or selling alcohol. Be sure to double check with your individual state authorities as to which license you will need depending on the services your restaurant will offer.

Building Department Permit

Now that you have started the process of establishing your restaurant, you will need to find a location and bring it up to the required safety and operational codes for your region. This will require building inspections from the city or county health department, as it pertains to the safety of the brick and mortar building you plan to run your restaurant in. This can include a visit from the fire marshal to review fire prevention systems, capacity concerns, and egress routes in case of a fire. In addition, outdoor signage and building features may be limited by local authorities, so a visit to the building department to find out the rules for your region is a must.

Food Service Establishment Permit

This is sometimes referred to as a “food handler’s” permit. This permit proves that you, as the owner/operator, understand and will comply with all food storage, safety, preparation, and sanitation training. This permit also allows your local health department to inspect your facilities (especially the kitchen area) to make sure you are following all requirements for safe food handling. Employees who will be primarily working your kitchen staff will also need to be individually certified for safe food handling procedures. Prior to getting approval for this permit, you need to make sure your kitchen (and restaurant) are stocked with the necessary supplies. Restaurant supply stores like VegaDirect.ca have everything from cookware, flatware, and uniforms to get a restaurant up and running. These supplies will be necessary in order to pass the food handling inspection, as they will be part of the review.

Liquor and/or Music Licenses

If you plan to serve alcohol, a liquor license will be required for your location. There are several levels of licensing for liquor and these can vary by state. Many city or county governments also have specific liquor licensing requirements, as well. If you plan to play music in your restaurant (as many do), you will need a music license in order to play any copyrighted music. It doesn’t matter if it’s from a CD, karaoke night, or DJthis license would be required in all circumstances. However, if your restaurant is smaller than 3,750 square feet, a music license will not be required.

Failing to acquire the required permits/licenses could get you into trouble with various government and regulatory agencies, resulting in fines and even potential closure of your restaurant. So you want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before embarking on this journey. Performing due diligence prior to opening your restaurant will help you save time and money in the long run and help you spend your time and energy on running your restaurant.

David Jackson

David is a personal finance expert, a professional male model, and an entertainment writer.