How to Start a Restaurant in Wisconsin

by Pamela Gardapee; Updated September 26, 2017
Setting up a restaurant

Setting up a restaurant in Wisconsin will take some time after the restaurant location is ready. After you have prepared the interior of the restaurant, you will need the proper licenses and inspections before you can open for business. It is important to have all of the proper licenses before opening or your restaurant could be shut down while the licenses are obtained.

Items you will need

  • Employer identification number
  • State seller’s permit
  • Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms permit
  • Sanitation certificate
  • Food manager certification
  • Liquor license
  • Food license
Step 1

Contact the local Health Department in your specific county. The restaurant must be inspected to make sure it meets all of the sanitation regulations set forth by the county. The health inspector will give you a list of necessary corrections that may be needed before he can approve the building and premises for the restaurant business. After the building is approved for the restaurant, you can move forward.

Step 2

Fill out the application to open and run a restaurant in your county. Wisconsin restaurants that will serve food and alcohol will need a food license and an alcohol license. In most counties, your application is reviewed by the Law and Licensing Committee. The process can take a minimum of one to two months before your application is approved and the licenses are granted. The licenses are to be renewed every year before June 30.

Step 3

Apply for Food Manager Certification through the Wisconsin Food Safety and Recreational Licensing Agency. Call 608-266-2835 for a list of approved courses in your area. The course must be taken by at least one person from the restaurant, who will have supervision over food preparation, sanitation and inventory.

Step 4

Obtain an employer identification number (EIN), state seller’s permit and an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) permit. The EIN can be obtained online from the IRS. The state identification number can be obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue website. The ATF permit application can be obtained from atf.gov. Register with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce (unemployment insurance) if you will have employees.

Step 5

Hire employees and advertise the restaurant with the Tavern League of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. These two organizations have a good reputation, and customers appreciate restaurants that are associated with and operate under the guidelines of these organizations.

About the Author

Pamela Gardapee is a writer with more than seven years experience writing Web content. Being functional in finances, home projects and computers has allowed Gardapee to give her readers valuable information. She studied accounting, computers and writing before offering her tax, computer and writing services to others.

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