Legal Aspects of Starting a Cafe in San Francisco Number

LegalAspects of Starting a Cafe in San Francisco


LegalAspects of Starting a Cafe in San Francisco

Startinga business requires making numerous decisions with reference to thetype of business to start, the target group. The Performance of themarket, competition, type of business as well as the availablecapital al influences the running of a business and in turn they mustbe considered when starting a business. Moreover, different otheraspects play a key role when starting a business. One of theessential factors to consider when starting a new business is the‘LegalAspects’which influences the business. Legal aspects in a simple definitionrefer to the aspects pertaining to different laws governing theoperations of business.

Whensetting up a business, a business plan is an important document whichhighlights the requirements as well as other important details areanalyzed. Starting a café requires research, planning, capital andknowledge on how to operate it. It also requires one to meet somelegal requirements which are put in place for regulatory purposes.These requirements are put in place to protect the consumers as wellas the population in general(&quotPart 14, Subpart 14-1 Food Service Establishments&quot).The various legal requirements include labor laws, food safety lawsas well as smoking laws. Those who operate cafes should stay abreastwith this law, understand them and comply with them if they are to besuccessful. This paper examines the legal regulations that impact, onthe starting and running of a café, in San Francisco.

Thereare different laws governing the business world in the state of SanFrancisco. In a nutshell, this entails laws such as health and safetylaws, insurance cover, trading licenses and consumer law, employmentlaw among other essential legal demands. The rule of law defines therules that govern the people and businesses which must be followed toavoid penalties. Despite the ever changing business environmentglobally, opening a restaurant or a café business in San Franciscohasn’t been just a walk in the park. Café and restaurant businesshas been one of the key entities in San Francisco.

Oneof the initial aspects of starting a business is defining the statusof the business. This entails the idea whether the business ispartnership, sole proprietorship or a corporation. The key reason forthis is to understand the different legal aspects for of the type ofbusiness. Running a sole proprietorship is different to running of apartnership or a corporation type of business. The first step tostarting a café in San Francisco is to identify its location. Inidentifying the location, one should check on the city’s zoningrequirements, which are regulated by ‘San Francisco Planning Code’,and in turn inform the governing body for relevant provision of theideal location set for café and restaurant business. There arespecific places where cafeterias should be located whereas someplaces present a health hazard and therefore are prohibited to have afood business(&quotRestaurant/Food Service Use&quot, 2014).Local zoning laws and regulations are of paramount importance whenpicking the business area. Zoning laws affect a few basic businesschoices, for example, buying property or making changes to yourcurrent property, so it is essential to comprehend the laws beforeyou focus on any other step (Churchillet al., 2006).

TheDepartment of Planning in San Francisco determines the ideal placesfor different types of business. With reference to café business,one should visit the Department of Planning to find out the locationsin San Francisco that are zoned for cafeteria businesses. Newcafeteria business locations are managed by the San FranciscoPlanning Code. To keep up the character and motivation behindunmistakable territories in San Francisco, the City`s geology hasbeen isolated into particular zoning utilization areas for everymovement or utilization of area in any given zoning region, the Codestates if that action or utilization is either: PermittedConditional or Not Permitted. Therefore knowing the zoning locale ofthe cafe will help one to distinguish what particular cutoff pointsmay apply to the venture and which application materials need to besubmitted (Churchillet al., 2006).A zone permit should then be obtained before progressing to building.Some sites require conditional use permits which can take around 3months to be processed. This ‘conditional use permit’ helps theowner of the café in case he/she wants to operate differently thanhow it is supposed to.

Theremay also be a need to go through a neighborhood notification processto let the neighbors know about the business depending on the scopeof the location of the café. The neighbors can respond to thenotification within 30 days. A pre-application notice should beprovided to the neighbors. Sometimes one may be required to conduct ameeting(Beesley, 2012).The second legal requirement includes the obtaining of licenses andpermits. The café need to have various permits and licenses for itto start operating. The first permit that should be obtained abuilding permit where one submits the construction plans which shouldadhere to the plan submittal guidelines (Beesley,2012).The permit fees are then paid and the permit given after a review ofthe plans by the department of building inspection. The firedepartment should also review the building plans, especially the makeof the kitchen so as to eliminate any fire hazards as well asdetermine the fire safety regulations in place.

Theother permit to be obtained is the Food Service Establishment Permitwhich is required before starting any business that deals with food.The purpose of this permit to ensure the health safety of the public(SanFrancisco Food Alliance, 2005).It is only accorded to owners of food businesses that do not presenta risk or a health hazard such as poor sanitation. If there will besale of alcohol, an alcohol sale permit should also be obtained inaddition to the food permit. This alcohol permit is applied for inthe department of alcoholic beverage control (SanFrancisco Food Alliance, 2005).It is challenging to obtain an alcohol permit for a café in SanFrancisco though if due procedures are followed it can be acquiredin 3 months. It is however easier to purchase a café with anexisting alcohol permit, license since the ownership of the licensecan be transferred to the new owner. The main purpose of the FoodService Establishment Permit is to provide regulatory compliance aswell as inspection requirements for running a food related businessestablishment it as well covers the health aspect of running a foodrelated business.

Afood safety permit also needs to be obtained. This permit is given toall food service establishments in San Francisco. It requires ownersto handle food safely through storage, preparation and serving. TheSan Francisco environmental health department carries a thoroughassessment on the café. They also assess the employees’ health andtheir ability to maintain good hygiene. They then give it acertificate to operate if it is considered safe after meeting all thestate, local and federal guidelines. The food safety permit isnormally given after 1 month after application in San Francisco. Therestaurants continue to be monitored once in every 2 years afteropening and a new license is accorded after every inspectionconducted (SanFrancisco Food Alliance, 2005).

Thelegal structure of the café should also be decided. This can be alimited liability company or an unlimited liability company. Alimited liability company protects the assets of the owner from theliabilities of the café (Beesley,2012).The café can also be structured as a corporation and thereforerequire a board of directors. The tax requirements should also besought in advance before starting the café business. The otherrequirement that should be sought is the insurance of risks (Beesley,2012).There are various types of risks that need to be insured beforestarting a café. This is because of the many risks that come with arestaurant business, including but not limited to lawsuits, injuriesto employees, fire, medical expenses and theft. The café shouldtherefore be insured under the general liability insurance, propertyinsurance of liquor liability insurance to avoid the business payingfor any claims that result from wrongdoing of people who consumedalcohol from the café. San Francisco requires any business sellingliquor to hold liquor liability insurance (Beesley,2012).A worker compensation insurance scheme should also be paid by theowner.


Newbusiness startup requires numerous considerations to be put in place,in order to ensure smooth running of any business. San Francisco isone of the regions in the United States, which has well-defined legalrequirements for businesses to fulfill. Moreover, the stategovernment has been on the forefront in implementing both nationaland state government laws pertaining to the business operations. Withreference to business café in the region (San Francisco), starting acafé in San Francisco has numerous legal requirements. Theserequirements need time for them to be fulfilled as some, such aspermits requires some time for them to be processed. It is thereforeimportant to plan well in advance before starting a new cafébusiness. This ensures that there is smooth running of the operationsof the café. It also saves the business a lot of money which couldbe used in paying lawyers and advocates as well as fines in court. Italso prevents closure of the business of a court order which canhappen if the regulations are not adhered to. As a result offollowing these legal requirements, the business grows and runssmoothly. From the information provided, it’s clear that, startinga new business in San Francisco isn’t an easy objective as ownerhas to adhere to different laws governing the state’s businessworld.


Beesley,C. (2012, April 30). Retrieved May 1, 2015, from

Churchill,E. F., Nelson, L., &amp Hsieh, G. (2006). Café Life in the DigitalAge: Augmenting Information Flow in a café-work-entertainment Space.In CHI ’06 extended abstracts on Human factors in computingsystems (pp. 123–128).

Part14, Subpart 14-1 Food Service Establishments. (n.d.). Retrieved May1, 2015, from

Restaurant/FoodService Use. (2014, May 30). Retrieved May 1, 2015, from

SanFrancisco Food Alliance. (2005). San Francisco Collaborative FoodSystem Assessment. Environmental Health.