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Opening a restaurant.

Expert: Kathryn Abdalla

Keith asked:

What licences and permits are required in the Ottawa region for a restaurant? Where do I obtain these?

Kathryn Abdalla answered:

As with any business start-up, there are a number of rules and regulations you need to comply with. You should contact the municipality you will be located in to ensure that your proposed site is zoned correctly. You must also comply with the province's "Food Premises Regulations" act. In this regard, you must first submit an application and a site plan to the Regional Health Department at 724-4253. They will then send a copy to the building department for approval. When both departments have approved the plans, you may start preparations for opening. You will be required to schedule a health inspection with the health department before opening.

In Ontario, if you are going to operate a business using a name other than your exact proper name, then you must register with the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. You can do this easily at one of several "Ontario Business Connects" computer workstations found in the Ottawa region. This process will result in a Master Business License, costs $60, and must be renewed every five years.

To apply for a liquor license, contact the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario at 1-800-522-2876. Keep in mind that this process could take over three months.

You will also need to obtain a Vendor's Permit from the Retail Sales Tax Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Finance in order to charge PST. You may do this when you register your name (on the workstation), or by telephone at 746-9200.

When your sales reach $30,000 (in four consecutive quarters), you will need to register for, and collect, GST. You may want to register voluntarily before your sales reach this level in order to take advantage of Input Tax Credits which allow you to get back the GST you pay on your expenses. Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) (formerly Revenue Canada) can provide you with further information. Also ask about their free Small Business Seminars.

If, or when, you hire employees, you will need to contact: Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Employer Health Tax, and CCRA regarding employee source deductions (CPP, EI, Income Tax).

Finally, don't forget to insure your restaurant; shopping around is your best bet. You may also want to contact the Ontario Restaurant Association and see what services and/or support they offer. Good Luck!

About the author

Kathryn Abdalla is a Business Information Advisor with the Entrepreneurship Centre in Ottawa. The centre provides the information and tools that entrepreneurs need to establish and grow their businesses. Initiated and operated by the Ottawa Economic Development Corporation (OED) with public and private-sector partners, the Entrepreneurship Centre provides a complete range of business information, training, consulting, mentoring and financial advisory services for both start-up and growing businesses. For more information visit their website at or contact them at (613)560-6081.

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