If you want to build and develop a restaurant, you’ll first be tasked with obtaining many different permits, the primary of which is a standard food establishment permit. These permits are necessary because they provide you with protection from various issues that might arise. For instance, having one of these permits means that you meet all food and safety regulations that are required in and around Los Angeles.
Keep in mind that a food establishment can be anything from a full-service restaurant to a food truck. The process for obtaining a food establishment permit can be a lengthy one. For one, the exact permit you obtain largely depends on where you live and the type of restaurant you’re developing. For instance, anyone who’s opening a restaurant will be tasked with applying for a restaurant license. A food handler certificate must also be obtained by any staff member who works at the restaurant.
If you’re setting up a deli, catering service, street vendor, or ice cream manufacturer, there are various food establishment permits you could apply for. Having one of these permits allows you to legally perform business as a restaurant or eatery in the state of California. Keep in mind that the restaurant business plan you’ve created might need to be submitted to your local health department in the event that your restaurant is new.
Inspections will also take place to make sure that the establishment adheres to the state health code. When you apply for a restaurant or food establishment permit, the approval process can take weeks or months to be completed depending on the number of issues that arise and need to be addressed. You can reduce this timeline considerably and keep delays at bay by obtaining permit expediting services. Hiring a permit expediter can make it easier for you to obtain approval for your permit in a timely manner. The following is a guide on restaurant permits and how to expedite the process.
Why You Need a Restaurant Permit
There are several reasons why a restaurant permit is necessary, the primary of which is that having this permit keeps you and your staff safe that any potential issues that might arise. Since food and safety regulations must be met before you can obtain one of these permits, you can be confident that your facility is safe to eat and work at.
Obtaining a restaurant or food service license also indicates to customers that you’ve met all local safety, prep, and storage regulations and that you’re currently allowed to sell food. Keep in mind these licenses will be issued by a county or city health department following an inspection of your facilities. Additional inspections may occur even after your restaurant is operational, which are designed to ensure that you still meet local health standards.
What Constitutes as a Food Establishment?
If you’re thinking of creating a food establishment, this type of establishment can be a restaurant, temporary food service, catering company, or food truck. Practically any business that stores, packages, services, or prepares food for customers can be referred to as a food establishment. The majority of states don’t allow people to serve food from their own home.
Any upscale dining, fast food, or fast casual restaurant is considered to be a food establishment. When taking local zoning and land use regulations into account, California allows a certain number of restaurants in practically every type of zone, which includes everything from commercial zones to residential zones. There are, however, guidelines that you must follow if you want to develop a restaurant.
Getting a Food Establishment Permit
Now that you know what a food establishment is and why it’s needed, you should learn about how to obtain one of these permits. First, make sure that you don’t need to obtain any other business licenses before you can begin development. If you’re constructing an entire building or renovating an existing location, you’ll likely need to apply for a building permit.
As mentioned previously, there are also different types of food establishment permits you can obtain depending on the kind of restaurant or food establishment you’re looking to set up. The area you live can also play a role in determining what type of permit you’ll require.
Applying For a Restaurant License
When opening a restaurant, it’s important that you apply for a restaurant license, which is necessary for fast food restaurants as well as sit-down eateries. Your staff members must have food handler certificates, which can be obtained within 30 days after being hired. In order to be granted this certificate, a certification class must be taken, which centers around food handling and food safety.
If you’re thinking of opening a temporary food venue or restaurant, a permit will still be needed. When opening an entirely new business, you’ll be tasked with submitting your restaurant business plan directly to your local health department. This plan must detail the type of business you’re going to run, how food will be handled and served, and what type of food you’re going to be making. Once your restaurant business plan has been formally approved, you can get started on filling out the application for a food establishment permit.
As mentioned earlier, your restaurant will be thoroughly inspected by a local health inspector. This individual will make sure that the area adheres to state health codes, which means that your appliances, floors, and table surfaces must be clean. It’s also important that any refrigerators are set to the correct temperatures and that food products are properly stored.
When an inspection isn’t passed, the inspector who handles this process will provide you with a list of things that should be addressed. Once these issues have been corrected, an additional inspection will take place. After you finally receive approval, your permit application will need to be processed. Before this process takes place, make sure that you pay the application fee, which typically costs a few hundred dollars. These applications can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months to be processed. Having a permit expediter by your side can help to speed up this process.
Creating a New Local Business
If you’re creating an entirely new business, you’ll need to have a local business permit, health permit, and tax identification number. The tax identification number can only be obtained after you register your restaurant with the IRS, which can be done online for free. Registering your business with the city comes with fees that range from $50-$100. Once you’ve paid the necessary fees, you’ll be given a short-term business tax registration certification that can be displayed in your restaurant.
In the event that you need to make changes to a building where your restaurant is set to be opened, plans need to be submitted directly to the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. In many cases, existing buildings will need to be remodeled to make sure that they comply with the latest ADA regulations that are meant to facilitate handicapped customer access.
Some of the other steps that you may be required to take when creating a restaurant or food establishment include registering for a California payroll number, a restaurant health permit, a business name, a license for selling beer and wine, and a California Seller’s Permit. The California Seller’s Permit allows your restaurant to collect any amount of sales taxes. The permit number you obtain can also be used to purchase food for resale without needing to pay sales tax.
Hiring Expediters for Food Establishments
Regardless of the type of restaurant you’re looking to establish, it’s highly recommended that you hire a permit expediter to help you navigate the application process. By making sure that your application is processed and approved in a timely manner, you can effectively avoid delays that waste your time and money.
Because a food establishment permit is needed for practically all types of restaurants, a permit expediter can be hired if you’re constructing a restaurant from the ground up or renovating an existing building to accommodate the new restaurant. The team of permit expediters that work with you will be able to help you navigate any hurdles and identify issues with your permit before it’s been submitted.
Among the most common reasons for the permit approval process to take a lengthy amount of time is because of errors within the application. Having a permit expediter by your side during this process means that these errors will be identified and corrected before you submit your application.
Creating a new restaurant or moving to a new premises can only be done if you first obtain a food establishment license in California. Whether you’re developing a food truck or sit-down restaurant, obtaining one of these permits is necessary to ensure that your restaurant meets local health and safety guidelines. The permit expediter you hire should be able to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for the application to be approved.
Jason Somers, President & Founder of Crest Real Estate
With over 15 years of professional experience in the Los Angeles luxury real estate market, Jason Somers has the background, judgement and track record to provide an unparalleled level of real estate services. His widespread knowledge helps clients identify and acquire income producing properties and value-ad development opportunities.