If you want to start a restaurant business in Florida, you must comply with all local and state regulations for Florida businesses in general, and Florida restaurants in particular. In addition, you must familiarize yourself with and follow the state's labor laws, and you must obtain liquor licenses and follow state and local ordinances regarding selling and serving alcoholic beverages. Before you start, do your homework thoroughly to avoid costly and time-consuming delays down the line.
Contact the state of Florida and fill out a state business license application. If your business will have a corporate structure, do the necessary paperwork to register it as a corporate entity. Also, contact the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and fill out an application for a DBPR license. If you will be serving alcoholic beverages at your restaurant, apply for a separate DBPR license covering this aspect of your operation. Register with the Florida unemployment insurance and industrial insurance divisions to cover your restaurant employees.
Research city and county codes for restaurant construction in your Florida municipality. Make sure your plans comply with zoning regulations for restaurants, especially if you will serve alcoholic beverages. Apply for all relevant permits for your ventilation and fire-suppression systems, as well as for your plumbing and electrical work. Apply for city and county business licenses.
Contact your local health department and inquire about regulations and permitting requirements for starting and operating a restaurant. Apply for all necessary health permits and licenses, and schedule a manager for food safety training with the state's Division of Hotels and Restaurants, so he can, in turn, train employees in state food safety protocols. Construct your restaurant according to local and county health department standards, and schedule a health official to inspect your facility before you begin operations.
Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.