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How to Start a Restaurant Business in Miami

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To start a successful restaurant business be prepared to put in long hours of planning. The process can take longer than expected based on the hurdles that you might face and the amount of time that you can actually dedicate to it. Miami, a popular tourist destination, is a potential market for any type of niche in South Florida.

Determine the legal structure of your business. You can operate your restaurant as a sole proprietor, corporation, limited liability or partnership. For further guidance, contact the Florida Department of State.

Come up with a catchy business name and file it under a fictitious business name with the Florida Department of State. Ensure that the name is unique and no one else has the rights to it. Also be sure it doesn't come close to infringing on the name of an already-established business. For instance, starting a restaurant named "Planet Meatball" could cause you to encounter trouble from the legal team at "Planet Hollywood."

Apply for the fictitious business name online or call 850-488-9000. This cost $50 for a period of five years as of July 2010.

Obtain the federal employer identification number or the EIN through the Internal Revenue Service. You can use form SS-4 to apply. You can download the application online, or call 1-800-829-3676 to order forms or obtain them through a fax request. A restaurant business application must also be filed with the Florida Secretary of State.

Choose an appropriate location for your restaurant, and obtain a zoning and use permit. Contact the Miami Department of Planning and Zoning by calling 305-4116-1499.

Obtain an occupational license. Get the relevant local city as well as county licenses before starting the business operations. Start the process for obtaining a Miami-Dade County occupational license by visiting 140 West Flagler St. RM. 1407 or calling 305-270-4949. The cost for a county license within the city of Miami is $45 as of July 2010. Begin the process of obtaining a Miami occupational license by visiting the city's finance department at 444 S.W. 2nd Ave. or by calling 305-416-1937.

Get acquainted with the regulations of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer services, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and Florida Department of Health. You'll need to comply with them since you will be serving food to the public. Contact each agency to schedule an inspection.

Write your business plan. Include your objectives, target market, operating expenses, projected revenue, funding sources and marketing plan. Identify your competitors and assess their core competencies.

Hire a wait staff. Check their background and train them to work efficiently and to provide customers with friendly, courteous service.

Draft a menu, which includes the kitchen setup, labor, food costs and table turns. This is crucial--since you are just starting the restaurant, your customers will expect something different and unique.

Market your restaurant business through fliers, online promotions, TV and radio station promotions. The key is to find the medium that serves your niche market.