A café is a type of a restaurant, only informal and smaller. This means that the legal requirements needed to open a café are similar to those of any restaurant. Opening a café is a bit challenging due to the many regulations that are found in this industry. Obtaining all the necessary licenses and permits require a lot of paperwork which takes time before it is approved. Therefore, a lot of patience is needed to see this process through and get your dream café successfully. It is also important to note that different states have different legal requirements. You should visit your local state department to get a detailed report of all the licenses you should acquire. Discussed below is a list of the legal requirements for opening a café.
- Business License
Like any other business, running a café requires you to have a business license. Business licenses are regulated by the state which allows a café owner to operate within a particular area. However, not all café owners have to obtain a business license. If the café is located in an area that is not governed by the local municipal council, it does not necessarily need a business license. An annual renewal fee is charged for the business license once the café is in operation. With this in mind, if your café will be located in the city, you will need to gather licensing information from the clerk’s office.
- Resale License
Sales tax is imposed on customers by the retailers in some states. When opening a café in a certain state, you need to be aware of the sales tax conditions. Where sales tax is mandatory, you have to obtain a resale permit. This permit is issued freely buy required annual renewal. The permit is kept active by submitting sales taxes from the customer and tax returns to the state. Failure to file tax returns within the given time frame could result in revocation of the resale license.
- Health permit
Health permits are usually issued by the department of health in the respective state. It is meant to protect individuals from cafes and restaurants that mishandle food and store it inappropriately. Similar to the business license, an annual renewal licensing fee is incurred by the café owner. Frequent inspections are carried out by health inspectors to examine the condition of the café. Should the café pose a health and safety risk to the general public, the health department has the right to revoke the permit. The employees working at a café are required to have a food holder’s card. This means that they need to undergo a food handler’s course that is approved by the state. The card is an indication that the cardholder understands the proper ways to handle food safely.
- Liquor license
If you are planning on selling liquor in the café, you need a liquor license. The liquor state authority issues this license. Amongst all license, it is the costliest, most challenging to obtain and easiest to lose. There are a number of reasons you could lose this license such as selling liquor at the wrong time, untrained bartenders, selling to minors and many others. There are also different types of liquor licenses for specific purposes. For example, there is a license that allows you only to sell wine and beer only. While a class D license enables you to have a full bar. You should also note that the cost of liquor license varies from state to state.
- Building health permit
The building that will be housing your café has to be inspected. This document shows that the café is safe for both workers and customers. The café will be subject to regular inspections to determine that it is sanitary. In other cases, a certificate of occupancy is issued before the café is open to the general public.
To be on the safer side, it is essential to insure your café.
- Music License
Music playing in the background of a café creates a relaxing mood. If you are planning on playing music at your café, you need to obtain a music license. This will help you avoid any lawsuits from artists which could destroy your café business. Copyright laws protect music and artists.