#1 Decide Whether to Open a Restaurant

There are certain aspects of opening a restaurant you need to know upfront, BEFORE you make any rash decisions.  This section will walk you through a general overview of some of the elements you should research and think about, before spending any money, to determine if you really want to open a restaurant. This will give you an opportunity to become familiar with what's involved in trying to open a restaurant. There is more to owning a restaurant than cooking, you also need to know what it takes to run and manage a successful business. Preparation is key! Spend the time early in the planning process to educate yourself and do the research.


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#2 Location, Location, Location!

Location is extremely important to business success. You will need to make a strategic decision based upon research and planning to find the right location. Your business location determines zoning laws and local ordinances or regulations that will impact the use and design of your location. Depending on the locality, all elements or specific location needs, and permits should be identified early on, potentially with the advice of an attorney, engineer and/or architect. Getting proper licensing to own and operate a food establishment isn’t that difficult, if you know how to prepare and identify location-specific requirements in advance, to meet your specific business needs. Here are some things to think about as you select your location.


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#3 Choose Business Structure

The business structure you choose will influence everything from your day-to-day operations, to taxes, to how much of your personal assets are at risk. Be sure to choose a business structure that gives you the right balance of legal protection and benefits. Find out what the options are and where to register by reviewing this section.


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#4 Prepare Your Location

Once you have selected your location and identified the location specific permits you may need, you can get to work securing those permits in order to prepare the location to meet your business needs. It’s time to execute your project plan to make sure no detail is missed. This section provides guidance on which government entity should be contacted for the issuance of location specific permits and gives guidance on obtaining a Food Service License.


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#5 Final Preparation

Just a few more details to get you over the finish line. The success of any restaurant is to have a well-trained staff. Spend the time to hire qualified employees for the job. If you hire employees, you will need to obtain necessary documentation for your records and forms that must be completed for federal and state compliance.

Additionally, be sure to schedule those final inspections necessary for any permit approvals. Before you can get a Certificate of Occupancy, you need to make sure you have all the necessary permit approvals such as fire, health, and building. Let’s review what you might need for final preparation!


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#6 Plan for Compliance & Success

It’s important to keep on top of all matters in the restaurant business. If you forget to renew a permit or license this could result in consequences such as fines, loss of license or even restaurant closure. The key to continued success is to keep track of important permit or license renewal dates, tax payment schedules, inspections, or any other important ongoing reporting or filing requirements. If you cannot keep track of all the records and compliance obligations, get professional help. Your success may depend on how good you are at keeping up the books! To help you achieve success, here is an outline of some of the areas you need to keep an eye on.


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Each step to the right is designed to give you a general outline of what’s necessary to open a restaurant in Rhode Island. Before committing to a project, it's important to consider the various aspects of the restaurant business and ownership. Many of the steps in the process are influenced by the type of restaurant you are opening and the location. Therefore, it’s important to plan to succeed.

We invite you to follow the steps for guidance to learn more about the process involved in opening a restaurant, and to find answers to some of the questions you may have. To get started, click and read through the steps on the right.