If you’re planning to open a new restaurant, you already know there are countless rules and regulations to abide by before your business can open. One major requirement is parking, as a lack of spots may deter customers from patronizing your restaurant. Many cities require restaurants to have a certain number of parking spaces to try to keep competition for street spots to a minimum.

Check Parking and Zoning Board Rules

It’s important to know the parking requirements of your city prior to purchasing space for your new restaurant or signing a lease. The number of spaces required is typically determined by the square footage of the business. Rules and regulations vary according to each city. For example, restaurants in Phoenix are required to have one parking space per 50 square feet of space, but in Tucson eateries are only obliged to have one parking space per 100 square feet. You’ll also need to find out the required percentage of handicapped parking spots.

Calculating Parking Space Requirements

After you’ve determined the amount of parking spots required for restaurants in your city, you’ll need to determine the number you’ll be required to provide. Request the floor plan from the property owner to determine the total square footage of the building. Divide the total square feet by the required parking ratio. For example, if the building is 2,000 square feet and one parking space is required for every 100 square feet, you would divide 2,000 by 100 to determine that you need to provide at least 20 spots.

Valet Parking Requirements

Some cities will allow a restaurant to provide valet parking instead of a dedicated self-parking lot. This helps businesses located in cities where there isn’t much extra space for a parking lot. If your city offers this method, you’ll likely be required to obtain a conditional use permit. You’ll need to create a proposal to city officials explaining details like the location of the lot in proximity to your restaurant, size of spaces, layout, valet hours of operation, planned drop off and pick-up areas and any other details required by your city.

Parking Exemptions

Occasionally a town will create an exemption to its standard parking rule. Often, this is to encourage new businesses to open in an area experiencing an economic drought. City officials know that it can sometimes be more attractive for restaurants to open in suburban areas with abundant parking opportunities, so this helps promote new business development in urban areas. However, whether specific regulations apply or not, your customers still will need to be confident they'll be able to find a nearby parking spot before they decide to drive to your restaurant.