Restaurants are big business in Illinois. According to the National Restaurant Association, Illinois restaurants were projected to earn more than $19.9 billion and employ more than 501,000 people in 2011 alone. Thus, Illinois is fertile territory for starting a restaurant business. After you create a business plan and get funding, you must obtain certain additional documents to comply with Illinois and federal law. Once completed, your establishment will be ready to open.

Corporate Structure Document

Like any other business, a restaurant must be registered as a corporate entity to operate in Illinois. To do this, select your preferred business name and then submit the articles of incorporation by mail or online to the secretary of state’s office. If the submission is approved, a letter indicating the status of the business will be issued.


A building permit is necessary to make any changes or additions to the premises. In Chicago, the Department of Construction and Permits issues all building permits. Local authorities must also inspect the premises before operation. If the restaurant passes inspection, a sanitation certificate will be granted.

Federal Employer Identification Number

Every business must obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. To apply, complete Form SS-4 for free at the IRS website.

Illinois Business Tax Number

Illinois requires every business to have an Illinois Business Tax (IBT) number. To do so, register the restaurant with the Illinois Department of Revenue by submitting Form REG-1 by mail or online.

Restaurant License

Such a document is known as a retail food establishment license in Chicago and every restaurant must obtain it before operation. The license is procured from the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) once the restaurant is ready to open. An inspection will be completed by local authorities and if deemed safe, the restaurant is ready for business.

Liquor License

If your restaurant will serve alcoholic beverages, it must have two liquor licenses: one from the local authority and the other from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. In Chicago, the BACP must be contacted for a local alcohol permit. At the state level, submit a completed application for a retailer’s liquor license and include a $500 filing fee. You must also include the local liquor license, your IBT number and your FEIN. No alcohol can be purchased or sold by the restaurant until the liquor application is approved and the license is granted.