Seven Departments Key To Opening A Restaurant or Cafe In Southern California

Opening A Restaurant

Are you thinking of opening a restaurant or cafe in Southern California?  If so, below are seven (7) departments that are keys to obtain the required administrative approvals and necessary building permits prior to construction.


For more information on this topic, check out our Complete Guide to LA Restaurant Building Permits.



7 Departments Key to Opening a Restaurant or Cafe in Southern California

1. Planning & Zoning -This city or county department should be the first stop for any new cafe or restaurant owner.  The department checks your current zoning and confirms all of the allowed uses of your site. They review the exterior design of your building including awnings and proposed signage. They also identify the number of parking spaces required and any conditional use permits that may be required.

2. Health – This department reviews your proposed kitchen equipment, standard operating procedures and even your menu. In addition, the Health Department may ask for you to obtain additional clearances from other local agencies.  For example, in Los Angeles, if you have any type of oil or grease in your restaurant than you will be required to submit plans to the Industrial Waste Division of Public Works. This division will review your sewer grease protection and insure that the proper grease trap or grease interceptors are in place.

3. Building & Safety -This department reviews your construction documents for handicap accessibility (ADA) and checks all proposed mechanical, electrical and plumbing improvements to insure that they meet current building code. They also review your project to see if it meets the new “green code”.

4. Fire -The Fire Department’s main function is to insure life safety.  They review access points into the site and also insure safe escape paths are available in case of a fire or earthquake.  The department is also responsible for approving all fire sprinkler and/or alarm system installations or improvements.

5. State Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control – The State is only involved if you plan on serving and/or selling any type of alcoholic beverage.  Administrative approvals may also be required on the City or County level, most commonly known as a “CUP”. The State reviews your proposed hours of operation,  the local crime rate and even the concentration of already issued alcohol permits in the neighborhood.  They also perform background checks on all principals and ask to review business financials.

6. Department of Transportation – Parking

7. Air Quality Management District.

Please reach out to us for a feasibility analysis report prior to securing a lease. Our research will allow you to negotiate better on your lease since the submittal requirements, processing time and associated costs will all be outlined for you.  Permit Place works with all of the above mentioned departments on a daily basis and can assist with expediting the overall review time and get your restaurant or café open faster.

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