Opening Your Restaurant

You are moments away from taking the first step to opening your very own Restaurant in Columbus! Opening a restaurant is a considerable undertaking and, when done thoroughly and thoughtfully, can be a rewarding and profitable experience. By carefully following the steps outlined here, you will be on your way to opening your doors for customers who desire your culinary services. This guide was developed to help navigate the process of opening a brick and mortar restaurant in Columbus.

Before you begin, we would like to emphasize that before you contact the office of Small Business Concierge, we strongly encourage you to begin identifying locations or start the permitting/licensing process, and determine your ownership or legal structure. Please consider the advantages and disadvantages of the following legal structures: Sole Proprietor (Owner), Partnership (General or Limited), Limited Liability Partnership, Limited Liability Company, Corporations (Different Types), Fiduciary, Association, Business Trust, etc. The Columbus Bar Association’s Find a Lawyer is an excellent–and free–service that connects entrepreneurs just like you to outstanding attorneys licensed to practice law here in the State of Ohio. Additionally, you can call the Columbus Bar Lawyer Referral Service from 8:30am-5:00pm at (614) 221-0754 or toll-free at (877) 560-1014.

Also, we cannot encourage you enough to BE INFORMED and HAVE A PLAN. The City of Columbus along with many of its partners, provides resources to you at little to no cost. One such free resource to assist you in developing a business and marketing plan is the Ohio Small Business Development Center (OSBDC) at Columbus State Community College. 

Through one-on-one instruction with OSBDC’s business and marketing experts, you will be guided through such activities as assessing where need for your service is the highest, developing a business plan that ensures you adequate funding to cover the start-up costs along with your day-to-day expenses for the first few years. You will also be guided through the development of a marketing plan that will enable you to target those customers you want and to do so in a manner that sets you apart from your competition. To get started, simply email Bruce Walters, an OSBDC Specialist, who will arrange for your first meeting with their staff. You may also contact him at (614) 287-5294.

With these preliminary steps out of the way, let us begin assisting you in opening your restaurant!

Step One: Schedule a Preliminary Site Plan Meeting

Step One: Schedule a Preliminary Site Plan Meeting Once you have a selected a potential site for your restaurant, it is strongly recommended that you complete and submit a Preliminary Site Compliance Plan to the Columbus Department of Building and Zoning Services “One Stop Shop”. - learn more

Step Two: Design and Construct Your Restaurant

Step Two: Design and Construct Your Restaurant Aside from the location and offerings of your restaurant, nothing can help identify and appeal to your customers more than the design, feel, layout, and safety of the establishment. You have now reached a step where professional drawings and plans must be generated and ultimately submitted to the City. - learn more

Step Three: Acquiring the Necessary Permits and Licenses for Your Restaurant

Step Three: Acquiring the Necessary Permits and Licenses for Your Restaurant Now that you have submitted all necessary documentation to the City relating to the building and site and have received final inspection approvals on all necessary permits, you may now proceed with obtaining the licenses needed to open your restaurant. If your restaurant will be serving alcoholic beverages, you must also obtain a liquor license from the Ohio Department of Commerce. - learn more

Step Four: Seeking City Incentives and Funding

Step Four: Seeking City Incentives and Funding Congratulations, you are now well on your way to opening your restaurant! The City of Columbus has numerous location-based and/or workforce incentives to offer businesses locating within city limits, and you just may qualify. - learn more

Final Step: Register Your Business with the Columbus Income Tax Division Once all previous steps have been completed, but before opening day, all businesses operating in the City of Columbus must register with the Columbus Income Tax Division. All businesses operating in Columbus must pay municipal taxes. - learn more