Starting a Local Cafe? 4 Tips for Meeting Required Regulations

Starting a new café can be a tedious task, but having a solid plan will alleviate most obstacles new business owners face when opening a restaurant.

Business Plan

The most important step to opening a new business is to formulate a proper business plan as a guideline for the startup process. Small Business Development Centers, or SBDCs, are located throughout the United States, and local offices will help you develop a business plan specifically for your local café. It is important to have ideas regarding location, brand identity, types of ownership, and funding sources before meeting with your local SBDC.


Every business has regulations for building requirements, and cafes are some of the most restrictive due to fire and food safety. Keep in mind that proper flooring such as Slip-Resistant Tile, Drop-Plumbing, Fire-Suppression Systems, Exhaust-Hood Ventilation, Fire Resistant Paneling, and Waterproof Lay in Ceiling Tile is mandated. All food-contact surfaces must be fire resistant, water resistant, and easy-to-clean- as outlined by the FDA and must meet your local health, building, and fire code regulations.

Permits & Insurance

Although some permits vary by city and state, every new café will need to obtain the following permits to operate: City and Fire Permit, Building Health Permit, and Employee Health Permit. Having the proper infrastructure in place will be the first step in obtaining the Building, Health, City, and Fire Permits for the business. It is always a good idea to conduct a walk-through with each inspector weeks in advance in order to make any necessary changes. Employee Health Permits require café managers, and in some cases employees, to be nationally certified by passing a Serve Safe test, so be certain to have a proper food-safety training program in place. Lastly, if your establishment serves alcohol, a Liquor License will need to be acquired.


The quality of equipment inside the business can make or break your new café. Restaurant equipment must meet certain standards and follow FDA and local health code regulations, including proper cooling and electrical components. It is imperative to have an experienced individual guide you through purchasing and installing this type of equipment.

Opening a new business can seem very daunting, but remember to have fun doing so. Creating a fun atmosphere from the start will help you maintain a positive culture your new café can build on for years to come! Follow the plan, work hard, train well, and have fun with your new café!

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