How To Open A Restaurant In Miami?

How To Open A Restaurant In Miami

Miami is a jewel of Florida when it comes to serving tasty delicacies. There is a massive hospitality industry waiting to be settled in Miami. So if you are thinking about starting a restaurant in Miami, always remember that you are not alone. It is crucial that you have a business plan in your head, know your locations, possible customers, legal formalities, etc. and a lot more. 

There are a lot of other things that one needs to keep in mind and to ease out the complete process for you, we bring to you a list of things that you might find helpful in order to start your very own restaurant in Miami. 


Selecting The Right Location Is Vital


The right location of your restaurant has various benefits and the most important being the reachability to your possible customers. If you wish to have your restaurant towards the beach side, you should be prepared to spend a good amount for the same, as it is slightly on the high end. If you go towards the mainland, you will start finding spots which are much cheaper yet attractive.


Understanding Zoning Rules


Not just a restaurant but for starting any business in Miami, it is important to know your property and zone well. Depending upon the zone you choose and your usage, you would need a warrant or an exception permit. Also, warrants and exception permits are time based. This means they have a deadline and needs to be renewed properly. 

Having certain pieces of information related to your property would be handy in understanding your zones and listing the permits needed to settle your restaurant.


Documents Needed To Start Your Restaurant In Miami 

There are two main documents that you need to get you restaurant started in Miami:

  1. Certificate of Use (CU)
  2. Business Tax Receipt (BTR)

NOTE: If you are planning to become a food truck vendor, you do not need the above documents and to know more, read about Miami’s food truck ordinance in brief.


I. Certificate of Use (CU)

To work in Miami, you need to ensure that you are working legally, and this is when Certificate of Use comes into the picture. The certificate of use also includes your fire safety permit as well. Here is a list of small prerequisites that you should check:

  1. Registration With SunBiz – One needs to register their business name with the State of Florida Division of Corporation (SunBiz). If one is using their exact and legal name as the business name, this process can be avoided.
  2. Complete Property Address – To know all the zone related rules, one should know the complete address of their property. 
  3. Floor Plan Of Your Restaurant – You should have the most recent floor plan and you should have a copy of this. You can get this from the Microfilm Department. You can generate requests through offline or online mode.
  4. Certificate Of Occupancy/ Completion: If you are picking an entirely new space, you need to have a Certificate of Occupancy in such a scenario.

If you have all the above things, you can easily request for the Certificate of Use. You can easily apply through online mode. You need to register your business with the City. They will contact you to know more about your business and its processes. Your application then needs to be approved by the City. Once it is approved, the next thing you need to do is schedule an inspection for the restaurant and pay for it. 

The inspections for a restaurant will need to be done by the Division of Environmental Resource Management (DERM), Fire and Code Enforcement Departments, Health Department, Department of Business and Professional Regulations – Food Service Establishments. Remember that all your inspections need to be completed within 90 working days (starting from the online application) or else you have to pay again to start over again. 

A final review takes place for the Zonal approvals and you will receive an email post successful completion of all the requirements. Your CU lasts till the end of the current fiscal year, post which you can renew your certificate of use.


II. Business Tax Receipt (BTR)

Once you have got your CU, the process to apply for business tax receipt is quite easy. Here are a couple of things you need to have for your business tax receipt: 

  1. A copy of your completed certificate of use- Food truck vendors and peddlers are an exception to this.
  2. The Federal Employee Identification Number (EIN) of your business- If your legal name and business name are the same, your social security number works equally fine. 
  3. Being a restaurant, the State of Florida licensing is needed additionally.

Once you have all the documents, you can go ahead and apply for your business tax receipt. There is an online application form that one needs to fill. The City will go through everything and verify it. If there are further clarifications that they need, they will contact you for the same. Once your application gets approved, you will receive an invoice. Make the payments and meanwhile you will receive a BTR via email. 


What To Know About Health Inspection Of Restaurants In Miami?


Health Inspections are very important for restaurants as the City needs to ensure that appropriate measures are being taken care with respect to workers, customers, and property as well. Generally, health inspections take place twice every month but if there are some issues or unusual practices are observed, it can take place more often as well. Though these inspections are “scheduled” but they occur unannounced, so you have to follow all the regulations at all times.

There are four major areas which are checked during an inspection and they revolve around environmental conditions, safety from contamination, etc.

  1. Proper care should be taken during the preparation, processing, and storing of food. It should not cause any foodborne diseases.
  2. Appropriate temperature should be maintained so that the contamination of food by bacteria is prevented at all times.
  3. In the restaurants, all the rooms and other areas should be properly ventilated. 
  4. The primary source of water also needs to be checked as water gets consumed by the customers directly while serving or be it indirectly during cooking.


Kitchen Hygiene 

Maintaining a hygienic kitchen is very important. With a clean and tidy kitchen, things will become easier for the cooks to work around and will help in avoiding food contamination in every manner possible. The shelves, floor and everything gets inspected. So maintaining it well is essential. Wastage of food while cooking should be least and its management should also be appropriate.


Storage of Food

There are certain practices that should be followed to avoid any bacterial attack. Different food items need to be stored at different temperatures. For instance, raw meats should always be stored at the bottom of the refrigerators. Thus, the storage of food should be done with utter care. How you store food in your kitchen tells a lot about your overall hygiene and is crucially examined during inspections.


Personal Hygiene

Apart from maintaining clean surroundings, it is important that the workers of your restaurant, be it cooking and serving staff, cleaning staff, or anyone else, also maintain proper personal hygiene. Imagine your surroundings are all clean and tidy, but the waiters are not well groomed. Do you believe it will set a good impression? Certainly not! Thus, personal hygiene is another essential aspect that one should not ignore for health inspections.


Importance Of Restaurant Insurances In Miami

Now that your dream of opening your restaurant is being fulfilled, you would not like to risk it at any cost. At a place like Miami which is quite prone to storms, hurricanes, and floods, insuring your property is important. One might not want to think about anything negative but we have to be realistic and consider all the various possible aspects as well. With the right insurance policy for your restaurant, you can cover your property, supplies, employees, customers and more. 


  • General Liability – This is a mandatory insurance that one needs to take to get protection against lawsuits related to property damages, or injuries, if any. Food poisoning claims also come under this. 
  • Workers’ Insurance – Any illness or accident that a worker goes through during his/her work hours, the employer needs to provide compensation for it and all this comes under this insurance. This is also mandatory coverage not just in Miami, but in the entire Florida. 
  • Property Insurance – Your restaurant, its machinery and other properties have risk from fire, theft, etc and all the related details fall under this category. At times, equipment insurance also gets included in this, thereby increasing the total cost.
  • Liquor Insurance – This is an optional insurance which needs to be provided if you plan to serve alcoholic beverages at your restaurant and want protection from any incident taking place due to excessive drinking by the customer.
  • Insurance for specific natural disasters – Miami often sees floods, storms, and hurricanes which can have adverse effects at restaurants, cafes, and other external properties. Thus, having such insurance can be of great help. 
  • Vehicle Insurance – In case you also run delivery services for your restaurant, it is a good idea to get those vehicles insured as well. 


There are lots of factors contributing to the final costing of your restaurant insurance such as delivery services, number of employees, drive-thrus, and other hospitality services. To give you a brief idea of the costing system, it can start from nearly $10,000/year for a small restaurant to around $100,000/year for a larger restaurant. The more facilities and insurance add-ons you take, the higher the costing gets. So, plan your budget wisely as securing your dream of opening a restaurant is important. 


Quick Tips When You Are About To Open Your Restaurant

Now that you are all set to open your restaurant in Miami, go through the following tips and tricks which would really help you in enhancing your business game in the marketplace. 


  1. Choose The Correct Equipment And Machinery

When you are planning to start a restaurant in Miami, there will be a couple of heavy machineries needed depending upon the menu that you plan to serve. Then apart from the machines and equipment you may need in the kitchen, there are a few other things as well that you might like to consider. It depends on the location of your restaurant, but there are going to be times when the sun will be scorching over your head.

So if you have outdoor seating, you should consider getting big umbrellas. If you have a beach view, then adding some beach benches will be a great idea. Your customers can enjoy the beautiful sunset, and you can serve them your special sunset drinks.

Be it an indoor seating or an outdoor one, tables and chairs are going to exist. An ideal way would be to make a list of all the furniture you wish to have and then cut them short depending upon what you actually need, if you are on a budget. You can invest less on the furniture and then increase it gradually. Also remember to rightly utilize the space available.


2. Brand Building: Decide The Vibe Of Restaurant

To build a vibe of your restaurant, it is important to have clarity of mind about what your vision is for your restaurant. You might have lots of ideas but all of them might not go together. It is better to jot down your ideas and then pick and choose the most relevant ones. You should do a comprehensive market search so as to understand the customers around the area of your restaurant, what are their eating habits or what do they enjoy eating more often. 

It is a good practice to study your market and possible competitors well in advance. All these actions will help you in deciding the core concept of your restaurant and work effectively with your strengths.

With the main idea as the foundation of your restaurant, you can start building the rest of the space. Furnishing the place, hiring the right people, deciding the menu, and color coordinating all these things, etc with your core idea is crucial. When all the things are done and put together, it should all come up as a single unit and add stars to your entire idea.


3. Menu Plays A Vital Role In Building A First Impression 

Every restaurant wants to create a long lasting impression on its customers that keeps them attracted enough to revisit the place and builds customer loyalty. For the very same reason, defining the restaurant menu becomes a very important role for the success of your restaurant. 

A well-defined menu helps the restaurant customers to eliminate the confusion about what to order in case of a vast amount of offerings in the menu. Your menu should be such that it simply self guides the customers about the ordering process. 

Generally, a menu should begin with the drinks section followed by the Starters, Main courses and end with the dessert section. People love to end their meal with a good dessert or two. Decision on the selecting dishes and items for the menu should be based on the local culture in Miami so that people feel connected to the place and the type of people you intend to serve. After finalizing the menu, you further get the idea of the type of skilled staff you’ll be required to hire.

The menu should also have a clear reflection of your restaurant brand and the design structure and color coding should be done keeping the same in mind. The fonts and spacing in the menu should be carefully done. If your menu will require changes or some add-ons as per changing seasons or events then try to leave spaces for that beforehand only. Also several studies suggest that diners spent more when there aren’t any Dollar signs ($) placed in the menu. So go ahead and use this quick tip.


4. Design Your Space Well

This is a very crucial step that will be the first thing from the outside that will attract potential customers to your restaurants. The location of your restaurant is going to be another factor contributing to the sales of your restaurant. 

Whether you have a small space or a large one, it is important to manage your space well. It should neither look too crowded nor too empty. For a small space, to incorporate your furniture, sitting areas, kitchen, bars, etc in a well-suited manner is important. In the same manner, a large space should be filled with appropriate furniture and decorations. 

Nowadays people often visit a place either because of their taste or else for its decor and interior. To attract new potential customers to your restaurant, comforting interiors, aesthetical decor is very important. People often visit a place to click pictures and post about it on social media, which in turn brings in new crowds to the restaurant. You can even have a separate area dedicated for taking pictures.

You can hire professionals to help you in settling your space in the best manner possible. There are numerous interior designers and architects in Miami who are proficient at their work and will make your job of designing your space easier. This way you can look upon other aspects of your restaurant such as the business logistics, marketing strategies, and more.


5. Hiring The Right Staff And Training

The dining experience is not just a service but an act of hospitality as well. For providing the best hospitality, you will be required to hire the best people for running it. The complete staff development is broadly a two stage process that comprises firstly the hiring of best personnel for jobs and then developing the work culture to retain them.

Depending upon the size and central idea of your restaurant, you need to define the kind of people you require for the various jobs. The various jobs are commonly classified into two types:-

  • Front of house restaurant staff
  • Back of house restaurant staff

Front of the house restaurant staff are the ones who have great communication skills and have complete knowledge of the menu to handle the various types of customers visiting the restaurant. These consist of Restaurant Manager, Server, Food runner, Host/Hostess, and Bartender. All staff for such roles need to have effective communication skills.

Back of the house restaurant staff is responsible for running the core of the restaurant i.e. the kitchen along with some non-kitchen positions as well. They are composed of the jobs like Head chef, Sous chef, Line Cooks, Dishwasher, Accountant and a Marketing team. All these people need to have a clear understanding about their role and responsibilities for the proper functioning of the restaurant.

The whole staff should have some common characteristics like they must be punctual, hospitable, communicative, and professional. You must have a proper incentive and promotion mechanism to have a good employee retention rate.


6. Promotional and Marketing Strategies

Without proper marketing and promotional activities, one cannot sustain in any business. As discussed earlier as well, restaurants in Miami is not a new idea, and during the time you are rethinking your decision to start, there would be ample of restaurants that would have come up in the meantime itself. So standing out from your competitors is necessary. A good marketing strategy can really help you gain pace even before you start. 

It is important to promote your restaurant both in online as well as offline modes. You can give offers and deals in your restaurants. Digital marketing for restaurants and remaining socially active can be a great game changer. Post pictures, videos of your dishes, restaurant, parties or events on your socials. Engage with your followers well and go for barter collaborations.

Following these tips and the above guide will assist you a lot in opening a restaurant in Miami. And there will be higher chances of your business idea not failing.