• Instagram Icon
  • Vimeo Icon
  • YouTube Icon
  • Nextdoor Icon
  • Search Icon
main content

Opening a Restaurant

Thank you for choosing the City of Lakeland to open your restaurant! Opening a restaurant is a significant undertaking that takes vision, cooperation and patience. To help in this process, we created this page to serve as a roadmap as well as a checklist. The information in this guide is intended to show you what you’ll need to open a restaurant in Lakeland.

Please take special note:
Prior to choosing your location, contact the Planning and Zoning Department.  They will help determine the exact zoning specifications for your prospective site and will provide information on what will need to be done, if anything, to the site in order to meet regulations for your specific business needs.

Planning and Zoning Office Hours
Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
228 S Massachusetts Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33801

5 Steps to Success

  • 1. Get Zoning & Location Approval

    There are many factors to consider such as proximity to customers, similar business clusters, parking needs, proper zoning, and tenant build out to name a few.

    Before signing a lease or purchasing a property, we strongly urge you to contact a City of Lakeland Planner at 863.834.6011 to discuss your potential location and business type.

    All Businesses are unique and each potential location may have different needs based on zoning, previous use, scope of work and the improvements you are proposing.

  • 2. Obtain Your License(s) & Hire a Consultant

    Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is responsible for licensing and inspecting all retail food businesses in Lakeland.

    These 4 Licenses have to be completed before you can apply for a Business Tax License:

    1. Fictitious Name Registration - If you do not use your full name (first & last) in your business name, the State of Florida requires you to register your Fictitious Name. To register, contact the Department of State Division of Corporations at 850.245.6058 or register online . We also have registration packets available at the Business Tax Office.
    2. State Sales Tax Number - Contact the Florida Department of Revenue | Lakeland Office: 115 S Missouri Av #202 (2nd floor), Lakeland, FL 33801 | 863.499.2260
    3. Social Security Number or Federal Employer ID - Contact the IRS | Lakeland Office: 2133 Harden Blvd, Lakeland, FL 33803 | 863.904.3399
    4. State Licensure- Learn about different license types and apply here.

    Acquiring Your Business Tax License:  After you have completed the 4 steps listed above, you are required to obtain a Vendor’s License through the Business Tax Office located on the first floor of City Hall.

    Obtaining a Liquor License (If applicable): If your restaurant will be serving alcoholic beverages, you must obtain a liquor license from the Florida DBPR.

    Hiring a Consultant: Your consultant will likely have significant experience with the Building Code and permissible designs, required safety, elements, and experience on submitting compliant plans, and the other required permit documentation to the Building Inspection Division and other departments.


  • 3. Develop a Business Plan

    How to incorporate, securing start-up financing, marketing plans, pricing strategies, budgets and money management are just a few of the areas you’ll want to have figure out before committing to a successful plan for a restaurant. Follow this link for a more comprehensive guide on creating a Business Plan.

  • 4. Determine whether your project will trigger a Change of Use

    The Change of Use guide will help you understand what a Change of use is. A representative from the City staff will determine what needs to be completed to help you achieve success as efficiently as possible.

  • 5. Obtain Building Permits (If Necessary)

    If you are not hiring a consultant, it would be in your best interest to contact the Building Inspection Division with your proposed idea for the staff to determine if you will need a permit.