The Patton Law Firm, LLC The Patton Law Firm, LLC
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Bar ownership is more than just cheers

There's just something about a hometown bar. If you frequent bars and taverns, you recognize the feeling. You are always welcome, and there is always a festive atmosphere. No matter how bad you feel going in, you always feel better coming out.

Maybe that's why you want to open your own bar, to provide that experience to others. You probably look forward to having regulars, those people who could go anywhere else in town but choose to come to your establishment for food, drinks and a few hours of relaxation. While it may seem simple, you will likely find yourself facing mounds of legal documents before your dream comes true.

Many cooks in your kitchen

Owning a restaurant isn't just a matter of obtaining a license; it typically entails applying for a series of permits and licenses at the state, local and even federal level. The first step is usually to contact the IRS for an Employer Identification Number, which you will need to have before obtaining many of the other documents. You will also use this number on all your tax forms.

The other agencies you deal with will depend on the type of establishment you intend to open. For example, you may need licenses from the following:

  • The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
  • The Ohio Alcoholic Beverage Control Agency
  • Your county or city liquor agency
  • The state, county or local health department
  • The local food safety agency if you plan to serve food
  • The Ohio Department of Commerce
  • Agencies in charge of entertainment licenses

Additionally, if you plan to make renovations to the building you buy or lease for your business, you will need permits for that project.

Your local jurisdiction may require the fire department to inspect your facility and issue a permit. They will likely require you to have certain fire extinguishers on hand, easy-to-access exits and smoke detectors as well as other safety precautions in place.

Help to achieve your dream

Because the purchase and sale of alcohol is heavily regulated at the local, state and federal levels, you would do well to keep scrupulous records of alcohol you receive, including dates, quantities and suppliers. Failing to have those logs available when an inspector arrives may cost your business to the tune of $10,000 and may even result in a prison sentence for you.

This may seem like a lot of work and some very high risk to undertake just to open a bar, but those bars you have visited may run smoothly because of the owner's adherence to the regulations in place. To ensure the similar success of your establishment, you may find the assistance of an attorney helpful, especially if that advocate has experience in the licensing laws of Ohio.

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