How to Get a Permit to Sell Barbecue in Texas

Texas is famous for its barbecue. Other states produce some mighty tasty smoked meats, but nothing compares to slow-smoked Texas brisket or beef ribs. Quality meat slow-smoked Texas style is often just cooked with a spice rub applied to the outside, and typically served with a tangy barbecue sauce that diners can apply to taste. There are literally thousands of barbecue restaurants in Texas, ranging from trailers and one-room shacks found in towns and at highway intersections all across the Lone Star State to huge barbecue emporiums like the County Line in Austin that can seat over 500 people. You can join this industry, but you'll need to apply for a permit.

Make a list of the various state and local permits and licenses you are going to need to sell barbecue to the public. These will include at a minimum registration of your business with the Texas Comptroller of Pubic Accounts in order to pay sales taxes, acquiring a Texas state retail food operation permit as well as a local business operation license in most areas.

File a doing business as (DBA) registration with the county clerk in the county where you plan to operate your barbecue business, unless you are incorporated or form a partnership. A DBA is just a method by which a sole proprietorship registers the name of its business with the state.

Go to the website of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to register your business so you can pay sales taxes (see Resources). All businesses must register with the comptroller's office.

Go to the website of the Texas Department of State Health Services so you can fill out an application for a retail food operation permit (see References). All businesses that prepare food for direct retail public consumption, including barbecue restaurants, must have this permit.

Check to see if the local government you live in requires additional licenses, permits or inspections for a retail food business. Many smaller city and county local governments simply accept the state health permit, but require a local business operation permit. Some larger municipalities in Texas require an additional local health permit/inspection as well as a retail business operation permit.


  • You also will have to get an employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service and register with the state to pay unemployment insurance and workers' compensation if you are planning to hire any employees.