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  • Charlene Stark

How to obtain a restaurant license in Chicago



Opening a restaurant in Chicago can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. One of the first steps in this process is obtaining a restaurant license. In this post, we will walk you through the steps involved in getting a license to operate a restaurant in Chicago.


Step 1: Choose the right type of license for your restaurant

There are several different types of restaurant licenses in Chicago, and it's important to choose the one that is right for your business. The most common types of licenses include:

  • Consumption on premises – a liquor license that allows the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises

  • Package goods – a liquor license that allows the sale of sealed containers of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption

  • Special event – a temporary license that allows the sale of alcohol at a specific event or location for a limited period of time

  • Caterer's liquor license – a license that allows the sale of alcohol at events and locations outside of the licensed establishment

Step 2: Determine the zoning requirements for your location

Before you can obtain a restaurant license, you will need to make sure that your chosen location is zoned for a restaurant. You can check the zoning requirements for your location by visiting the Chicago Department of Planning and Development's website.


Step 3: Obtain the necessary business licenses and permits

In addition to a restaurant license, you will also need to obtain other business licenses and permits. This may include a food service sanitation manager certificate, a public place of amusement license, and a sales tax number. You can find a list of all the necessary licenses and permits on the City of Chicago's business licensing page.


Step 4: Submit your application and pay the fees

Once you have gathered all of the necessary paperwork, you can submit your application for a restaurant license through the City of Chicago's business licensing page. You will also need to pay the fees associated with your license, which vary depending on the type of license you are applying for.


Step 5: Wait for approval

Once you have submitted your application, you will need to wait for it to be reviewed and approved. This process can take several weeks, so it's important to plan ahead and apply for your license as early as possible.

Tips for Choosing the Right Location for Your Restaurant in Chicago

Location is one of the most important factors to consider when opening a restaurant in Chicago. The right location can attract customers, increase foot traffic, and contribute to the overall success of your business. Here are some tips for choosing the best location for your restaurant in Chicago:

  • Consider the demographics of the area

Before choosing a location, it's important to consider the demographics of the surrounding neighborhood. Think about the age, income, and interests of the people who live and work in the area. If your restaurant caters to a specific group (such as families with young children or young professionals), you will want to choose a location that is convenient and appealing to that demographic.

  • Look for a location with high foot traffic

A location with high foot traffic can help bring in customers and increase visibility for your restaurant. Look for a location that is easily accessible and visible from the street. High foot traffic areas can include popular shopping districts, tourist attractions, or busy intersections.

  • Think about parking and transportation

Convenient parking and access to public transportation can make it easier for customers to visit your restaurant. Consider whether there is ample parking available, or whether the location is easily accessible via public transportation.

  • Consider the competition

It's important to consider the competition when choosing a location for your restaurant. Look for a location that is not oversaturated with similar restaurants, but also be aware of any successful restaurants in the area that could potentially draw customers away from your business.

  • Evaluate the cost of the location

The cost of the location is another important factor to consider. Look for a location that is within your budget, but also consider the potential return on investment. A more expensive location may be worth the investment if it has the potential to bring in more customers and generate higher profits.

Choosing the right location for your restaurant in Chicago is crucial for the success of your business. By considering the demographics of the area, the foot traffic, parking and transportation, the competition, and the cost, you can make an informed decision that will set your restaurant up for success.


The Benefits and Considerations of Obtaining a Liquor License for Your Restaurant in Chicago

Obtaining a liquor license can be a major decision for a restaurant owner in Chicago. While a liquor license can bring in additional revenue and attract customers, it also comes with added responsibilities and costs. Here are some benefits and considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether to obtain a liquor license for your restaurant in Chicago.


Benefits of Obtaining a Liquor License

  1. Increased revenue: Alcohol sales can be a significant source of revenue for restaurants. According to the National Restaurant Association, alcohol sales make up an average of 18% of total restaurant sales in the United States.

  2. Attracts customers: Many customers enjoy the option of having a drink with their meal. Obtaining a liquor license can make your restaurant more appealing to these customers.

  3. Enhances the dining experience: A well-curated selection of drinks can enhance the overall dining experience for customers.

Considerations for Obtaining a Liquor License

  1. Cost: Obtaining a liquor license in Chicago can be a costly endeavor. The fees for a liquor license vary depending on the type of license and the location of the restaurant, but they can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

  2. Responsibility: With a liquor license comes added responsibility. Restaurants that serve alcohol are required to follow strict regulations and may be held liable for any incidents that occur as a result of serving alcohol.

  3. Additional staffing: Restaurants that serve alcohol may need to hire additional staff, such as bartenders, to handle the added workload.

Using a Permit Expediter

If you are having difficulty navigating the process of obtaining a restaurant license in Chicago, you may want to consider hiring a permit expediter. Permit expediters are professionals who specialize in helping businesses obtain the necessary licenses and permits. They can help you save time and avoid potential delays by handling the paperwork and communicating with city officials on your behalf.

While hiring a permit expediter can be an additional cost, it may be worth it if it helps you get your restaurant up and running more quickly. You can find a list of permit expediters in Chicago by doing an online search or contacting your local chamber of commerce.

Obtaining a restaurant license in Chicago requires careful planning and attention to detail. By following these steps and considering the use of a permit expediter, you can successfully navigate the process and get your restaurant up and running smoothly.

Obtaining a liquor license can bring many benefits to a restaurant in Chicago, including increased revenue and the ability to attract customers. However, it's important to weigh the costs and responsibilities carefully before making the decision to obtain a liquor license. Hiring a permit expediter can also make the process of obtaining a liquor license easier and more efficient.

Looking for a hassle-free way to obtain the necessary licenses and permits for your business? Try Permit Studio! Our team of experienced permit expediters can help you navigate the complex process of obtaining the necessary permits, saving you time and stress. Contact us today to learn more about our permit expediting services!

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