How You Can Open a Restaurant in Florida
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The Inside Scoop on How You Can Open a Restaurant in Florida
From key lime pie to crab boils to the Cuban sandwich, Florida’s unique culinary delicacies are infamous. And, with over 137 million tourists in 2022 alone, the most visited state in America is an exceptional place for restaurateurs to reach a diverse audience of hungry patrons.
Before your divine offerings can fill bellies in The Sunshine State, however, you need to understand how to open a restaurant in Florida. Despite being considered one of the top ten easiest states to establish a business in—due to taxation and startup laws—there are still a variety of legal prerequisites to satisfy before you can open your eatery’s doors.
From properly registering your business to obtaining all the necessary permits, this guide will cover how to start a restaurant in The Alligator State. So get your business plan ready and read on—snowbirds, beachgoers, and hungry locals alike are awaiting your culinary creations.
1. Securing funding and plan ownership structure
Before you can get gas in your grills, you need cash for permits and bills.
If you have the capital and gumption to get your business going alone, then look no further than your own savings. If you need assistance with startup costs, however, there are a variety of ways for restaurateurs to raise the funds to start a new spot, including:
- Friends, family, and interested industry partners who want to invest in your idea and skills
- Traditional loans from banks and other financial institutions that are willing to bankroll your plan
- Small business loan programs, such as those administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, generally offer friendlier terms than conventional loans and come with business training and guidance
The investment and ownership structure of your restaurant may determine the type of legal entity it is. Once you’ve secured funding, you can move on to legally registering your business.
2. Register your business
Once you have a name, theme, and ownership structure determined for your restaurant, you can file the necessary forms to establish it as a legal entity. There are several distinct entity types to choose from in Florida, including:
Sole proprietorship – If you’re providing your own finding and want to be responsible for all revenue and liabilities, registering as a sole proprietorship is the choice for lone-wolf restaurants.
- Corporations and Limited Liabilities Companies (LLC): Both corporations and LLCs are ways for your restaurant to exist as an independent legal entity. You still maintain control, but your restaurant will be owned under its own name, or that of the entity you register. Corporations and LLCs are often employed by restaurateurs establishing franchise locations.
- Partnership options: If you’re going into business with more than one owner, partnerships can register a restaurant in multiple people’s names. Both limited and general partnerships are options in Florida, depending on the investment and liabilities your partners are comfortable with.
Once you’ve decided on your business’s structure, you can register with the Florida Department of State (DoS) by:
- Filing your registration on the DoS’s online platform
- Printing, completing, and mailing the appropriate form to the DoS’s filing section in Tallahassee
Also, unless you’re operating your restaurant as your full legal name, you’ll also need to file a Fictitious Name Registration as well. Then, once your restaurant is a registered entity, you can move towards making it a physical reality by preparing to hire employees.
3. Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Unless you plan on being the sole employee of your sole proprietorship, you need an EIN for your business. That’s because any business that registers as a partnership or corporation or hires one or more employees, must obtain one.
Luckily, EINs aren’t difficult to obtain once you’ve registered your business. They’re available through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and can be applied for via:
- Internet EIN, their online application platform
- Conventional mail
Once you have your EIN, you can hire the workers necessary to run your kitchen, front of house, and business operations. Keep in mind, however, that anyone who comes into contact with food will need the proper training.
4. Conform to health and training guidelines
There are a few different requirements to keep in mind when preparing your restaurant or examining how to start a food truck for sanitary and hygienic service. Before your prep cook can chop up the opening day’s mise en place, you need to:
- Certify a food service manager: If you plan to have three or more employees working in your restaurant at the same time, one of them needs to pass a food service manager certification test that’s compliant with the Florida Department of Health’s (DOH) regulations. The manager will be responsible for maintaining hygiene standards in your restaurant and training their colleagues, an essential fish to fry before opening day.
- Train employees: If an employee is ever going to touch an ingredient, plate, or utensil, then they need to be trained in food hygiene. A certified manager is legally capable of delivering such training, and it must be done annually by March 31st, or within 30 days of hiring a new employee.
- Obtain a food service license: All food service establishments in Florida must be certified by the DOH. To maintain licensure, owners must pay an application fee, comply with the DOH’s standards regarding hygiene and sanitation, and renew their certification annually.
5. Comply with tax regulations
How you register and run your business will affect its tax status and your legal dues. Partnerships, LLCs, and corporations all have varying laws governing their tax obligations. To learn more about the specific registration process for your business, information can be found through the Florida Department of Revenue.
Regardless of your entity status, however, businesses that sell anything physical must register for a seller’s permit through the Small Business Administration. Seller’s licenses allow you to pay accurate taxes on the goods you sell, and you may have to apply for several different types if you:
- Sell alcohol at your restaurant
- Transport meat or vegetables across state lines for use in your dishes
- Import fish or other seafood products
6. Get insurance
Unlike many other states, robust business insurance isn’t mandatory in Florida. Business owners, however, are responsible for providing worker’s compensation for their employees.
Insurance can be a smart idea in case of vandalism or natural disaster, however. If you want to insure more than just your workers’ livelihoods, a business owner’s policy can meet your legal obligations and cover cases of malice and misfortune.
7. Obtain a liquor license (optional)
If you don’t plan to serve alcohol on your premises, you can safely skip this step. If you’re interested in offering cocktails and brews to combat the Sunshine State’s notorious heat, however, you’ll have to register through the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. They offer three distinct kinds of liquor licenses depending on what you plan to serve., including a:
- Beer Consumption on Premises License
- Beer and Wine Consumption and Premises License
- Beer, Wine and Liquor Consumption on Premises License
8. Find a space and commence operations
Once you’ve gotten all your permits and registered your business, it’s time for the practical work of actually finding a place to operate. Unfortunately for aspiring restaurateurs, lease prices in popular Florida localities are skyrocketing faster than anywhere else in the nation.
Additionally, any space you rent or purchase must comply with Florida’s building code. If you do renovations, you’ll have to apply for a building permit through your county’s building department.
Luckily, there’s a way to speed up this part of the process: by operating a ghost restaurant through a delivery-only space.
Ghost restaurants forego the sky-high prices of trendy districts such as Downtown Orlando and Miami Beach. These areas may have heavy foot traffic and deep-pocketed clientele, but they have exorbitant rents to match. Instead, ghost restaurants:
- Are usually located outside of central hubs where rents are lower
- Omit dining rooms to focus on delivery, reducing startup costs and the time needed to secure such essentials
- Don’t require additional renovations or permits to begin operations
Ghost kitchens offer a quick and affordable entry point to the Alligator State’s culinary scene, especially for restaurateurs looking to expand from other parts of the nation.
9. Expand into Florida using ghost restaurants
If you’re interested in expanding into Florida, ghost kitchens offer a savvy way to test the waters of the gulf and bayou without throwing in a lot of capital. They offer more flexible rental contracts, lower prices, and less upkeep than traditional restaurants.
If your food is already popular in another state, ghost restaurants can help you give Florida and its many visitors a taste for it as well. By establishing a delivery-only spot in the Sunshine State, you can:
- See which of your dishes resonate most with local palates
- Skip many of the arduous steps involved in establishing a restaurant, such as renovating your space or getting a liquor license
- Save on startup costs, wages, and building maintenance
Oranges aren’t the only things that are ripe and juicy in Florida. The restaurant market is booming and is expected to surpass $28 billion in revenue in 2023. Ghost restaurants are your key to joining in on the Sunshine State’s vibrant and profitable culinary scene.
Operate your Florida restaurant in a ghost kitchen from CloudKitchens
Operating in a ghost kitchen from CloudKitchens can get your restaurant off the ground quicker and for less money. As opposed to the half a year and million dollars it can traditionally take to start a restaurant, CloudKitchens can have you serving in the Sunshine State in as little as six weeks for around $30,000.
CloudKitchens expedites the startup process by providing the space, equipment, and support staff required to operate smoothly. You just need to bring the idea, recipes, and know-how to make the culinary experience your own.
Book a tour of one of our locations to learn more about how CloudKitchens fits into your business plan.
Start or grow your restaurant in ghost kitchens from CloudKitchens
Ghost kitchens from CloudKitchens are a savvy solution for Californian restaurateurs seeking to expand and owners from across the nation looking to break into the Golden State’s food scene. They put your restaurant on the fast track to opening day by:
- Providing an operational space approved with all the building-related permits needed to open a restaurant, meaning you don’t need to take the time to get them
- Offering affordable spaces leasable for the hours you need them
- Supplying the equipment you need to get your restaurant going, means less time building capital or seeking investors.
CloudKitchens offers the ghost kitchen space you need to turn out delicious food without the hassle. Whether you’re an established restaurateur seeking expansion or a young chef trying to burst onto the culinary scene, our functional equipment is ready to serve your future food fanatics.
Take a tour of our CloudKitchens to learn why they’re an exceptional next step on your journey as a culinary chef.
Explore ghost kitchen locations across the US:
- Ghost kitchens in San Francisco
- Ghost kitchens in LA
- Ghost kitchens in NYC
- Ghost Kitchens in Toronto
- Ghost Kitchens in Atlanta
- Ghost Kitchens in Dallas
- Ghost Kitchens in Chicago
- Ghost Kitchens in Denver
- Ghost Kitchens in Miami
|DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only and the content does not constitute an endorsement. CloudKitchens does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, images/graphics, links, or other content contained within the blog content. We recommend that you consult with financial, legal, and business professionals for advice specific to your situation.
Visit Florida. Research FAQ. https://www.visitflorida.org/
Business Insider. The Best and Worst States to Start a Business. https://www.businessinsider.com/
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Small and Minority Business Programs. https://floridajobs.org/community-planning-and-development/
Florida Department of State. Types of Business Entities/Structures. https://dos.myflorida.com/
Internal Revenue Service. Do You Need an EIN?. https://www.irs.gov/
Florida Department of Health. CHAPTER 64E-11 FOOD HYGIENE. https://www.floridahealth.gov
Florida Department of Health. The 2022 Florida Statutes (including 2022 Special Session A and 2023 Special Session B). http://www.leg.state.fl.us/
Florida Department of Revenue. General Tax Administration. https://floridarevenue.com/
United States Small Business Administration. Apply for licenses and permits. https://www.sba.gov/
Florida Department of Financial Services. Coverage Requirements. https://www.myfloridacfo.com/
United States Small Business Administration. Get Business Insurance. https://www.sba.gov/
State of Florida. RESTAURANTS AND OTHER EATING PLACES. http://openmyfloridabusiness.gov/
National Association of Realtors. Florida’s Hot Rental Market Leads to Highest Share of Cost-burdened Renters. https://www.nar.realtor/
Statista. Forecast: Industry revenue of “full-service restaurants“ in Florida 2012-2024. https://www.statista.com/
CloudKitchens. Open a ghost kitchen in the Sunshine State. https://cloudkitchens.com/
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