Opening a new restaurant is no easy task and the restaurant industry is highly regulated. New eateries face all of the typical new business hurdles, as well as complying with a web of local, state and federal regulations. To ensure that your new restaurant gets off to a good start, find out exactly what licenses and permits it needs to operate.
The city or state where your new restaurant resides issues you a business license. This license is what gives you the authorization to operate within a particular geographic jurisdiction. Getting a business license usually involves filling out some paperwork (i.e. registering your business name) and paying an application fee.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
An EIN number is what tells the federal government that you are an employer. It is essentially a tax identification number, and you obtain it by visiting the IRS website, filling out a form and paying a fee. You can also apply by mail or by phone. Your EIN is the number under which you file your business taxes each year.
…the restaurant industry is highly regulated…
Certificate of Occupancy
A new restaurant must have a certificate of occupancy to show that the building it is safe for employees and customers. The town or city that your restaurant resides issues the certificate and usually requires a building inspection by local authorities. Most restaurants must have a certificate of occupancy before opening their doors to the public.
Food Service License
No restaurant can operate without a food service license. This license usually involves and on site visit by city or county health department officials and ensures that your restaurant meets all food preparation, food storage and food safety regulations and laws. In some cases, employees must complete a food safety training program and have a food handler’s permit.
With the right licenses and permits, you will get off to a flying start and a whole new culinary adventure.
If you plan to sell liquor at your restaurant, then you need a liquor license. Liquor laws vary from state to state and sometimes from city to city. Local authorities do not want just anyone selling liquor, so most liquor laws are fairly strict and regulate everything from when and where to serve liquor to how much it costs. Depending on your restaurant’s location, you might need both a beer and wine license and a liquor license.
No matter what type of liquor license you need, apply for it early because it can take up to a year to receive it. Application fees can range from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars, and you must renew the license each year.
Music in the background of any public eating establishment helps create atmosphere. Copyright law, however, protects music, so if you plan to play it in your restaurant, then make sure you have a music license.
Check out Sirvo’s Business Owner’s Toolkit for more information on operating your own place in the hospitality industry.
Get the license from companies that hold performance rights for copyrighted musical works. Two of the largest such companies are the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI). You can face some pretty stiff fines without a music licence.
You can also opt for a restaurant music streaming service that covers all your bases like, Soundtrack Your Brand.
You need signage to draw attention to your new restaurant. So before you put up that placard, sandwich board or illuminated banner, make sure that you have a sign permit from the city or town where your new restaurant resides. This permit allows you to use signage, but it also regulates the size and location of your signs.
Opening a new restaurant is exciting! With the right licenses and permits, you will get off to a flying start and a whole new culinary adventure. Check out Sirvo’s Business Owner’s Toolkit for more information on operating your own place in the hospitality industry.
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