How Do I Legally Set Up a Restaurant in Florida?

If you or anyone you know is planning to open a restaurant in Florida, or if you happen to be the new owner of an already established restaurant, the law mandates you to secure a business license. The license can be obtained from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulations Division of Restaurant and Hotels and has to be secured before commencing operations.

Starting a business usually entails extensive paperwork, unless you intend to go at it alone in the form of sole proprietorship, you will have to secure licenses, permits, and certificates for your operations to comply with the legal requirements. Also, keep in mind that these requirements vary from state to state.

In order to procure that license, you need to complete the following requirements:

When Do You Require a Food Services Plan Review?

You will need a food service plan in the following situations or conditions:

  • You are the owner of a new restaurant
  • You have remodeled or made major modifications to your existing restaurant
  • You have re-opened a restaurant that has been closed for a period of at least one year or more
  • You have converted to a restaurant from another business

In all of the above cases, you are required to submit a food services plan to the Division of Restaurant and Hotels for approval. If you plan to open a new restaurant, you should submit the plan for approval before commencing any construction work in order to avoid expensive modifications later on.

What Application Forms Do I Have to Fill Out?

It is important to keep in mind that you have to complete all the necessary application forms in an appropriate manner on the website of the Department of Hotels and Restaurants. In case you intend to serve alcohol in your new restaurant, you will have to submit an application for a liquor license. On the other hand, if you have purchased an already existing restaurant, you will have to submit an application in order to have the liquor license transferred to your name.

How Much is the Licensing Fee?

You will also have to pay the license fee. This fee structure will depend on the kind of food service you intend to operate and on the number of seats in the restaurant. For minimizing complications and making things easy for you the Department of Hotels and Restaurants has developed a calculator for licensing fee on its site. This will help you in determining the exact amount you need to pay.

Is Sales Tax Registration Mandatory?

Obtaining a sales tax registration number is mandatory. You can obtain this from the Revenue Department. In case you are eligible for an exemption, you will have to get a proof of exemption before opening the restaurant.

What is an Employer Identification Number?

As an owner or entrepreneur, you must know that all businesses are required to register for an Employer Identification Number, which is also known as your tax ID number.

What about Inspections?

All restaurants must pass a sanitation and safety inspection before commencing operations. You will have to get in touch with the Department of Hotels and Restaurants directly to schedule your inspection.

What Local and County Requirements are Applicable on My Restaurant in Florida?

Different municipalities and counties have permits and requirements that may apply to your restaurant. These usually include:

  • Certificate of occupancy
  • Sign permit
  • Health department permit
  • Flammable material permit

Contact Us

As Florida-based business lawyers with experience and expertise in the food industry, we can be a great asset for you as you embark on a journey of restaurant ownership. Call us today for a consultation 305–921–0440 or email us at

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