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How to Get a Restaurant License

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  • 0:04 Opening a Restaurant
  • 0:31 Types of Restaurant Licenses
  • 2:24 Permits and Other Documents
  • 3:07 Consequences of Non-Compliance
  • 3:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

Opening a restaurant takes more than some cash and the right equipment. In this lesson, we'll learn about the many licenses and permits needed to properly open and operate a food business.

Opening a Restaurant

So, you have decided to open a new restaurant, but where do you begin? Aside from finding a location, getting the necessary equipment and doing a little decorating, there is one important aspect that you must consider long before your first customer can enjoy your meals. That is, obtaining all of the needed licenses and permits to actually operate your new restaurant. In this lesson, we will learn what licenses and permits you need and how you obtain them.

Types of Restaurant Licenses

In this section, we will look at some of the important licenses needed to operate a restaurant.

1. Business license: All businesses need to have a business license. This allows the business to operate and become a legal business. This also means the new restaurant will now be responsible for following all city, county, and state laws and regulations. You can get a business license by going to city hall or contacting your county government.

2. Liquor license: If you intend to serve any liquor, you need to have a liquor license. Depending on your location, there may be different levels of licenses you can obtain. For example, if you are only going to sell beer and not hard liquor, you may not need to get a hard liquor license. Also, how you will sell the alcohol may determine the type of license you need as well. For instance, are you going to just be serving alcohol in the restaurant, or will you serve it when you cater events? There are many different types of liquor licenses, so you will need to do your research on which one fits your business best. You will also want to contact the city or county government offices to check the local requirements you'll need to meet in addition to any state requirements. Once you know the requirements, you can fill out all necessary paperwork through your local liquor control board.

3. Music license: If there will be any music in your restaurant, you need a music license. This includes any music - from your favorite CD, from a DJ, or even from karaoke. The music license gives you permission to play any copyrighted music. There are several companies specializing in music licenses that can help you find and fill out the needed forms.

4. Retail sales license: Depending on what state you live in, you may also need a retail sales license. This gives your restaurant the ability to charge sales tax. Keep in mind that only certain products have sales tax, and the rates may be different in each state. Contacting your state's department of revenue will help ensure that you have the right forms to charge sales tax.

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