Compared to other businesses, opening a new restaurant can be a particularly complex task without the guidance of an attorney. From identifying the proper business structure to obtaining the licenses and permits to operate legally, restaurant owners cannot fail at any time.  

In this article, you will discover whether you need a lawyer to open a restaurant in Florida. 

Do You Need a Lawyer to Open a Restaurant in Florida? – The Verdict 

While it is possible to work one’s way through the entire process required to open a new restaurant in Florida, this option generally results in a time-consuming and costly experience.  

Hence, the best strategy to guarantee full legal compliance and go through the required steps seamlessly is working with an expert attorney. 

Business Structure  

Most Florida restaurants are formed either as limited liability companies (LLCs) or corporations. Both business structures offer liability protection against business-related judgments, liens, or other issues.  

For example, if someone sues the restaurant and wins a judgment in court, the owner’s personal assets are not exposed to business liabilities. Accordingly, the suing party can only collect damages from the business entity, not its owners.  

Business Facilities  

It is not possible to operate a restaurant without an adequate facility. New restaurants can choose to buy the property where the business will operate or sign a commercial lease agreement with a landlord. 

Both options involve contracts, zoning regulations, permits, financial statements, and several other elements that can be overwhelming to handle without the help of a legal advisor.  

Handling Taxes  

A Florida restaurant owner must have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to file federal taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This unique nine-digit number is used to identify businesses for tax purposes. 

At the state level, any businesses providing goods or services to the public are subject to sale tax. To file the required taxes with the Florida Department of Florida (DOR), restaurant owners must obtain a seller’s permit or sales tax certificate.  

Local governments (county/city) may also require local business licenses, which are business tax receipts used to collect taxes at the local level.  

Food and Liquor Licenses  

It is impossible to run a restaurant without serving food and drinks. Florida law has strict regulations to protect consumers against foodborne illnesses and ensure they enjoy high-quality service when eating out.  

All restaurants operating within state jurisdiction must apply for licensing with the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, a branch of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). 

Applicants must submit a proposed plan to the Division, which will decide whether to approve or reject the application based on the plan’s eligibility.  

Depending on the case, restaurant owners must also apply for licensing with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) and the Florida Department of Health (FDOH).  

Food establishments serving alcohol must also apply with the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT), another important branch of the DBPR. Different types of liquor require distinct licenses and permits, which makes the process even more complex for non-lawyers. 

Do You Want to Ensure a Smooth Experience When Opening a Florida Restaurant? – Immediately Seek Expert Legal Guidance 

Waste no time with uncertainty. Contact Attorney Romy B. Jurado today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] to find the best strategy to open a new restaurant in Florida.