So, you want to open a restaurant?
You have your menu, you have your business plan, you've talked to investors or the bank and you are ready to find the real estate that meets your needs. First, find yourself a REALTOR® that specializes in commercial real estate and scour the market for your new space. Hopefully there will be many options for you to explore. If you are lucky enough to find a place suitable for your dream, congratulations; but this is just the beginning, you have a lot of work ahead of you.
Before signing a lease or a purchase agreement, utilize your due diligence time wisely. You’ll want to determine whether you can use the property at you intend to and find out what additional costs might be involved. Make sure to reach out to the local municipalities to walk through your new space. There are a lot of rules that need to be followed; but we have great city staff's that are there to assist you in the process and to help you start off successful. If you meet with them during your due diligence time period, you'll save yourself a lot of headache in the long run. Your broker should be able to assist you in this and schedule tours of the property with the appropriate staff members.
You’ll also want to have inspections on your mechanicals, do they meet current code? How old and what condition is the HVAC in? If you are leasing, who is going to maintain the mechanicals and who responsible for replacing them? You'll want to make sure that your new space meets local plumbing codes, including if you may need an updated/upgraded grease trap, that your lighting is sufficient and there are ample foot candles in the different areas of the restaurant. You'll want to make sure that the equipment that exists or the equipment that you plan to purchase meets the commercial grade requirements and are stamped appropriately. Your best resource for all of this and more is to contact the Environmental Health Program Supervisor at McLean County Health Department. An initial walk through before finalizing your offer will give you a punch list of items to fix or address before having a final walk through for occupancy.
Additionally, you'll need to fill out a Food Permit Application, have a Food Service Sanitation Manager Certificate, and if applicable a Liquor License Application. You'll need a minimum of two certified managers and all employees must have ServSafe Food Handler certificates. Everything you need with regards to fees, equipment, staffing, permitting, etc. can be found at http://health.mcleancountyil.gov/79/Forms-Fees-Ordinances.