See all the licenses and permits you need to run a successful concession stand legally
Concession stands are a popular and convenient way to provide food and beverages at events of all kinds, from small community gatherings to large-scale festivals and concerts. Whether you’re selling popcorn and cotton candy at a local fair or serving up burgers and hot dogs at sporting events, operating a concession stand can be a good business opportunity.
However, before you can open your concession stand and start selling food and drinks, there are a few rules and regulations you need to follow meaning you need specific licenses and permits to operate legally.
The most common types of concession stand permits include a Food Handler permit so you are trained to serve food to the public safety, a Business license so that you are paying the right taxes and a Food Service permit that shows your stand is compliant with health and hygiene standards.
There are also a few more things you may need as permits vary depending on the state and county you are in.
In this article, I will outline all the permits and licenses that states require. It is worth keeping in mind, that not all of these permits will apply to you so it’s worth going onto the state authorities website you want to operate in.
Concession stand rules and regulations
- Health Department Permit
- Business License
- Food Service Permit
- Fire Permit
- Sales Tax Permit
- Zoning Permit
- Alcohol Permit
- How to get a concession stand permit
1. Food Handlers Permit
A Food Handlers Permit, also known as a Food Handler’s Card, is a certification or permit issued to individuals who have completed a food safety training program. It is required in many states and counties for people who work in the food service industry, such as servers, cooks, and food preparation workers, to ensure that they understand and follow proper food handling practices.
The training covers topics such as foodborne illnesses, cross-contamination, temperature control, and personal hygiene. Obtaining a Food Handlers Permit usually involves taking a course and passing an exam, and the permit must be renewed periodically to ensure that food service workers remain up-to-date on the latest food safety regulations and practices.
2. Business License (Business Operating License)
A Business License is a legal document that grants permission to operate a business within a specific area or jurisdiction. The criteria for obtaining a business license may vary depending on various factors such as the type of business, location, and regulations of the local government. Typically, businesses are required to provide fundamental details such as their business name, address, type of ownership, and tax identification number.
Moreover, certain businesses may require additional licenses or permits to operate. For instance, businesses that sell food or alcohol might need to acquire health department permits or liquor licenses. Similarly, specialized permits may be necessary for activities like construction or transportation.
3. Food Service Permit
A Food Service Permit is necessary for a business or individual to sell or serve food to the public while ensuring that the food being served is safe for consumption and that all health and safety regulations are being followed.
The specific requirements for obtaining a permit can differ depending on the location but generally involve completing a food safety training course, having the premises inspected, and paying a fee. If a required Food Service Permit is not obtained, it could result in fines, business closure, or other legal consequences.
4. Fire Safety Permit
In some jurisdictions, a fire safety permit is necessary for concession stands to ensure that they meet specific fire safety requirements. This permit guarantees that the concession stand has the necessary fire prevention equipment, such as fire extinguishers, and that all electrical wiring and equipment meet the proper safety standards.
Generally, the local fire department or another regulatory agency issues the permit with the goal of ensuring the safety of both the workers and customers while preventing potential accidents, like fires, from happening.
5. Sales Tax Permit
A Sales Tax Permit is like a license that businesses need to get if they operate in an area that has a sales tax. It’s issued by the state’s tax authority and gives the business permission to collect and send sales tax on their goods or services.
Basically, the business has to keep track of all its sales within the state and regularly send the collected tax to the state’s tax authority. To get the permit, the business needs to apply with the state’s tax authority and provide information about their business. Once they have the permit, they’re allowed to collect sales tax from their customers on all sales made within the state.
- What Licenses Do You Need For A Food Truck In Texas?
- What License Do You Need For A Food Truck In Florida?
- What Permits Are Needed For A Food Truck In New York?
6. Zoning Permit
To run your concession stand in the right spot and make sure you’re meeting the zoning laws, you need to get a zoning permit.
This involves applying for permission from your local government and giving them details of your business such as where you want to operate and the size of your concession stand.
For instance, if you’re in Chicago, you gotta get a zoning permit if your biz is in particular zones, such as residential ones. The permit will check if you’ve got enough parking and signs, and that your building meets the codes.
7. Alcohol Permit
If you’re going to sell alcohol at your concession stand then you’ll need to get an alcohol permit. This is issued by your state’s alcohol board which is there to ensure that you’re selling and serving booze responsibly.
In order to get an alcohol license you may need to show you have taken an online course and know about the laws and regulations around serving alcohol, like what hours you can sell alcohol.
So, for example, if you’re in New York and you want to sell alcohol from a concession stand then you’ll need to apply for an alcohol license from the New York State Liquor Authority of the state.
How to get a concession stand permit
There are a few different government agencies you need to contact in order to get the correct licenses and permits for your concession stand.
Whilst all might not be relevant to you here is a list of some of the common agencies you may need to deal with:
- City or county clerk’s office: This is often the first place to start when obtaining a business license or tax ID number. You can usually apply online or in person.
- State health department: If you are selling food, you will need to obtain a food service permit from your state health department. This will involve an inspection of your concession stand and verifying that you are complying with food safety regulations.
- Alcohol beverage control board: If you plan on selling alcohol, you will need to obtain a permit from the alcohol beverage control board in your state.
- Fire department: Depending on your location and the size of your concession stand, you may need to obtain a fire department permit. This will involve an inspection of your concession stand to ensure it meets fire safety regulations.
- Entertainment commission: If you plan on having live entertainment at your concession stand, you may need to obtain an entertainment permit from your local entertainment commission or other relevant government agency.
- Zoning department: If your concession stand is located in a commercial or industrial zone, you may need to obtain a zoning permit from your local zoning department.
- The state department of revenue: Depending on your location, you may need to obtain a sales tax permit or a use tax permit from your state department of revenue.
Here are some additional resources that can also point you in the right direction and help with your particle business needs.
- Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA offers resources and information on starting and running a small business, including information on licenses and permits.
- National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL): The NCSL offers information on state and local government policies and regulations, including information on permits and licenses.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): – The USDA offers information on food safety regulations and resources for food service establishments.
- Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB): The TTB is responsible for enforcing federal laws related to alcohol and tobacco, including issuing permits for the production and sale of alcohol.