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Starting a Restaurant in Detroit : Legal & Administrative Restaurant Startup Checklist

Last year, I wrote about the top six legal considerations for opening and running a restaurant in Detroit. Those considerations still remain relevant today. In addition to the legal considerations I previously blogged about, there is a laundry list of administrative items that one must consider and accomplish prior to starting a restaurant in Detroit or elsewhere.  The following tasks should start 8 to 10 months prior to opening day and can serve as a checklist:

  • Besides the legal team, ideally one should build a team of other experts including a CPA, bookkeeper, designer, architect, insurance agent and real estate broker.
  • Licensing, which was addressed as a legal consideration, is a necessary step before one opens doors – this includes obtaining permits from the department of health, city building and occupancy permits, and state liquor licenses.
  • Developing a banking relationship and opening a bank account to develop the concept; manage building/construction cost; and later to open an operating account.
  • Assemble credit application information and references to apply for and set up new accounts.
  • Develop employee policies regarding meals, timekeeping, in addition to the legal considerations addressed in an employee handbook.
  • Determine and obtain necessary health and beverage certifications for servers.
  • Address various tax applications, including state sales tax identification and local tax registration.
  • Determine how payroll will be processed and usage of third party payroll service.
  • Obtain credit card processing services and merchant accounts.
  • Confirm various insurance policies are in place prior to opening.
  • Purchase and install accounting software and develop bookkeeping system for accounts payable.

Gradually, over the course of the ten months, these tasks will facilitate the operator into creating a smooth opening day and allow the staff and patrons to focus on the food.  While there are many moving parts that must come together prior to day one, with the right team in place it can be done.

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