Begin Your Journey To Open A Restaurant In Boston With Our Guide

Begin Your Journey To Open A Restaurant In Boston With Our Guide

Boston is a city of traditions and people love to follow them by heart in every aspect of life, be it sports, architecture, universities, fashion or food. People of Boston have a very versatile food culture and this comes from the varied range of people that live here. This is because of its wide community of students which comes from different parts of the world. They all have different food cultures and dining habits. These attributes have contributed to make Boston a great market for restaurants, cafes and other related businesses. 

A very interesting fact about the amazing Boston restaurant community is that everyone believes in uplifting others. They do not aim at building rivalry instead their focus lies on making Boston a better food destination. Thus, if you are planning to open a restaurant in Boston, it is not going to be a tough task. 

But as you know that there are a vast range of people from different walks of life, their taste and food preferences will vary. This might be seen as a minor challenge that one may come across in terms of making a long-lasting impression at the diners. Their taste will keep on evolving and you have to ensure that you fulfill the needs of your customers at all times. 

The right location of a restaurant is another influential factor that would drive the right traffic. In this beautifully built city, it is hard to spot a location which is not gorgeous, so one might have a hard time choosing the same as well. There could be various other challenges that one might face. So to ease out your task of opening a restaurant in Boston, we bring to you a complete discussion about various aspects associated with the opening of a restaurant in Boston. 

We have talked about a lot of things, from the documents and permits that one may need, insurance and inspections, things to keep in mind before getting started, and a few tips to help you build a better brand for your restaurant, and a lot more. So dive deep into our discussion and we hope you will get a lot to learn and upskill. 


Let Us Understand The Entire Process


The idea of opening a restaurant is not going to be a cakewalk. One needs to know and understand all the steps involved from getting ready with a plan in mind, choosing a location, designing the space and menu, hiring the right staff, to getting all the approvals. Then only one can think of actually serving food.

To start the business, proper marketing strategies and planning will play a crucial part to make your restaurant a success. You should also understand that things will not happen with a snap of fingers. They will take time and one needs to be patient and try to bring all their resources to the right utilization. 


Choosing The Correct Location


Selecting the appropriate location is a crucial step. Once you have finalized things, you cannot change it as you might with your marketing strategies, etc. There are different rules associated with different zoning areas that one needs to keep in mind. You need to check the zoning rules and then only decide as there are some specific rules regarding services such as drive-in, take-out, etc. 

They could be allowed at some places while prohibited at others, and some may have them conditionally allowed. So compare your requirements with the rules and regulations of every place that looks good to you. You may need to file a long form online at the Zoning Board of Appeal if you need to change the zone or apply for any rule which is conditional or prohibited. 

If you wish to make any constructions at the restaurant, you need permission for that. If your restaurant is a part of a building, Certificate of Occupancy is a must. Any step, small or big, can have authorized steps and permits to be taken. There is a list of documents that one needs to keep handy and we shall take a complete look at all of them in the next section.


Documents Needed To Open A Restaurant In Boston


Boston is a charming city in the United States of America and is truly a foodie town. It is famous for its baked beans, cream pie, fenway frank, and a lot more mouth-watering dishes and snacks. Many food festivals are also held in Boston. 

It is a coastal city which is also famous for its seafood like lobster rolls and fish. So if you are planning to open a restaurant, it is the best place to start. 

Before starting any business, you should know what documents you need to start it. If you have secured funds and a good business plan then the next thing you have to do is to take the licenses. The following section will help you to know about these documents that are needed to start a restaurant. 

  • Business License
  • Certificate of Occupancy 
  • Food Service License
  • Liquor License Permit
  • Catering Business License
  • Food Seller’s Permit
  • Food Facility Health Permit
  • Employee Health Permit


Business license, also known as business tax certificate, is the first license you have to take if you are planning to start your restaurant. This license is controlled by the city in which you are in. If you are starting a restaurant in different locations of the city, you have to take this license for each restaurant. 

For getting this license, you need a business name, address, full restaurant plan, and business classification. Business classification means that the business will be in partnership or sole. This license is renewed in four years by the city clerk. It is issued by the city clerk’s office. The cost of this license depends upon the county, type and scope of the business. 


Certificate of Occupancy– for this certificate, many inspections are done at locations like plumbing, electrical, building, fire. Fire department issues a Certificate of Compliance. Until the fire department does not tell if the location is fit or not, the inspectional department will not issue the certificate. Fees for this license vary according to location. 

This license shows that the location is fit for your restaurant and is safe or not. This certificate is initiated by the owner and the owner has to apply at Inspectional Services. The owner has to provide the information about the fire safety and protection before the people are allowed to come in. 

When the certificate of Occupancy application number is assigned to you, then you have to email all the documents and request for inspection. The email should contain location, mobile number, and the name of the restaurant. To get the certificate, you should have taken the certificate of application number from the service which provides inspection. 

Once you have submitted all the documents and fees, the inspector is assigned for inspection. If the inspector is satisfied with the property, then the fire department will do its inspection.


Food Service License is also known as food handler’s license. Before serving the food to the public, you first need to inspect it. Food inspection is done two times a year. For this license, you first need to make an appointment and then need many documents like application of food service permit, payment slip, plans of site, list of menu, permit of building. If all the documents are verified by the health advisor and it is approved then the health advisor will stamp it. 

All the plans are reviewed and the several documents are taken to the office. The documents you have to submit are Certificate of Occupancy, inspection certificate from division of building, permit application of food service, and the certification done by the food manager.


Common Victualler’s license is for the restaurant owners. When all the paperwork is completed then the request for inspection is raised and the health inspector will approve it and the owner will get the license.


Food Seller’s Permit is registered online through the portal of permit and the license of SBA. There are no fees to apply for this license but you have to pay security fees to clear the taxes if the restaurant is closed in between. If you take this permit then you can charge sales tax to the customers. 


Liquor License Permit is required if you are providing alcohol to the customers in your restaurant. This license is provided by the state. To apply for a liquor license, you must have a seller’s permit. The cost of the license varies according to the location. This license is renewed in a year. After applying for a liquor license, the public notice of application should be posted for 30 days. The owner should verify that the locality which he has chosen is right for selling the alcohol. This permit process is 30 to 40 days. This license is provided by the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.


Catering Business License is taken by those who do the catering business. There is not any particular catering license, but if one is providing alcohol, then they have to take liquor license and food safety certification. 


Food Facility Health Permit is provided to see safety of storage and preparation methods are done with proper hygiene. The place where the food is stored should be clean and preparation of food is done with hygiene so that it does not create foodborne diseases. This permit is provided under county authority and you have to interact with the local health department to know how to apply. If you already have a restaurant and you want to start a new restaurant, you have to get a new permit. 

The price of this permit varies according to the location. If your restaurant passes in all health and safety codes then you will get this permit.

The Employee Health Permit is the same as the food handler’s license.


Health Inspection Is A Must


When you plan to serve food which is going to be consumed by the masses, health inspections are something one can never forget about. They are a crucial stepping stone for the proper functioning of your restaurant. There is an entire list of documents that you need to complete before your health inspection. 

  • Certificate of Occupancy
  • Food Service Permit Application
  • Food Manager Certification and Allergen Awareness Certification
  • Common Victualler License

All these documents are highly important and have been briefly discussed in the above section. Apart from all this paperwork, a highly professional attitude is expected out of you and your workers. The entire place should be hygienic and well-placed. No matter when you schedule a health inspection meeting, your health inspector will give you a surprise visit. Don’t worry! This is not done to irritate you but to ensure that you maintain the hygiene all time of the year and not just for the health inspection you scheduled. 

Apart from this, they also view your plumbing system, waste disposal and treatment system, and various other physical facilities. 

At times when any complaints are registered by customers too often then legit surprise visits also take place. This is done to check every single detail. The best way to avoid all these situations is by ensuring that you leave no stone unturned to live up to the mark as far as your hygiene and rest of the things are concerned from the point of health inspections.


Tips To Turn Your Restaurant Into A Success In Boston


Now that you have all the much needed information to start your own restaurant with respect to documents and permits needed, official paperwork, insurance, health inspections, and much more. Now as a small bonus, we shall bring to you some quick tips to run your restaurant well and how to promote it among the audiences of Boston. 


– Be A Trendsetter and Not A Trend Follower

It is a very common practice that once a certain type of business is started at a place, it becomes popular, then often people start replicating it. Same can be done in the food industry as well. So to ensure that the dishes of your restaurant are always the talk of the town, make sure that they have a unique feature about them. This could be anything, be it through some special ingredients, a certain cooking methodology, or just the magic touch of your chef. 

You cannot enjoy a long run in the food business industry by following others. You should create something which makes others follow you. This way the people in Boston will start missing the variety in food that they always look for the most. You can certainly mix and match among the things to create something extraordinary. Boston is not a big place where people would like to have the same kind of food at every other restaurant. 


– Explore The Nearby Areas Before Starting Your Food Venture

As you will be picking a location for your restaurant, you can even look at places which are towards the outer countryside areas, or the suburbs such as MedFord. Exploring these outer areas will be of great help. You can actually travel around and explore the amount of audience you can get. You will be a point of attraction to not just the Bostonians but also the people around. This will help you in increasing the footfall at your restaurant. Once you are able to attract a potential customer to the doors of your restaurant, retaining him will be in the hands of the food you serve, and the hospitality you offer to them. 

Renting the place is also usually cheaper in such areas. Restaurants existing in Boston have already crowded the place too much, now that you are starting off things fresh, this can be a golden opportunity to catch. If you wish to extend your restaurant in the future, it will be way easier for you. 


– Do Not Worry About The Parking Lot

Parking in Boston is very expensive and can get really hard on the pockets when initiating any businesses. People in Boston always look for ways to stay fit and healthy. Whenever given an opportunity, they prefer to look for ways in which they can replace their traveling by walking, for better health as well as reduced expenses. Also, there are various ride-sharing apps that have started in Boston through which people can commute. As a food restaurant owner who is about to start the business, you should not really worry about this at all.


– Students Can Be A Great Customer Option

Youngsters love to eat, anywhere and everywhere. They look for good taste that can end their endless cravings. If your food restaurant consists of dishes and recipes which are mostly targeted towards the younger generations or you wish to make younger generations like school and college students your targeted audience, then it is going to be a great move if you look for locations near to schools, universities to situate your restaurant. There won’t be much marketing needed to attract the audience to your restaurant. Things will begin to occur automatically for you. 


– Feel Free To Experiment

Bostonians are open to trying new things, especially in food. They are very open-minded when it comes to food. So feel free to mix unfamiliar ingredients and spices with the familiar ones. You can introduce new dishes as free dishes to try out. Take their feedback and work upon your creations to make them better. This way you will not only end up getting a new and improved dish but also an improved customer relationship as well. Make your customers feel that their feedback is important. They would love to reciprocate the same in various ways possible. 

Another pattern that has been lately observed among most of the diners is that they prefer to opt for quantities such that it is shareable. So try to make your dishes available in smaller quantities as well. You do not want the people of Boston to not order their favorite dish – pasta, just because it is not available in lesser quantities. 


– Promotions And Marketing is Vital

No business can work up to its complete potential until and unless it is promoted well. With the right promotions and marketing strategies, you tend to make your business available to the right audience. Promotional activities are an on-going process. With the right planning, you first make space in the heart of your consumer and then continue to grow that space with consistent efforts.


Let’s Sum Up….

Boston is no less than a heaven for a foodie as there are enormous dishes and food variety exists for all categories of people, be it vegetarians, non-vegetarians, people who are health conscious, or those who can die for tasty fast food. If the amount of people with such varied eating habits exists, then to cater these needs, there should be an equally balancing amount of restaurants existing. Thus, no matter how many restaurants or cafes exist in Boston, there is always space for more. So if you are planning to open a restaurant in Boston, go ahead with your ideas!!

For opening a restaurant, you have to go through many steps including finding location, funding, getting all the permits. There is a list of documents that you need to keep ready. You should have all the business plans in your mind. The location, food quality, food storage, employees, etc. should be good to get all the licenses. There are certain restaurant marketing and promotional strategies that you should have. 

Then another crucial step related to starting a restaurant is health inspection. As you know that your food will be consumed by many, so it is going to be your responsibility to make sure that the food is healthy and all the precautionary measures are being taken care of. In the end, we gave you some tips that may help you in turning your restaurant in Boston into a huge success.