Restaurants

restaurantThe permitting process for a restaurant involves the review and approval by several different City and County of Denver departments and agencies.  In general, you will need a zoning permit from Zoning, a sewer use and drainage permit (SUDP) from Wastewater Management, a retail food establishment license from the Department of Excise and Licenses and inspections from Development Services, Denver Fire Department, Wastewater Management and Denver Environmental Health.  


See below for more specific requirements. 

Getting Started

As a prospective restaurant owner, you must decide what type of restaurant you want to open for permitting and licensing purposes.  Your choices might include the following:

  • Restaurant with table service
  • Restaurant with stand up seating only
  • Temporary restaurant for a special event
  • Restaurant with liquor service
  • Drive-in restaurant
  • Mobile food truck


Landmark

If your restaurant is located in a local historic district or individually listed as an historic landmark, and you plan to make exterior changes to the building, you will need a landmark design review.   View Landmark Preservation for more information.

Note:  The process may take up to five weeks.

 

Zoning

1.    Use the DevelopDENVER tool to the right to determine your zone district.  

2.    Find your zone district in the Denver Zoning Code

    • See if your type of restaurant is allowed.  
    • Check the parking requirements to determine if you have enough parking, need to add parking, or meet one of the allowable parking exceptions in the code.

 

Building

Check the Certificate of Occupancy to determine if an existing building or tenant space is currently configured for a restaurant.    

Note:   If a building or space is not currently configured for a restaurant, it will require upgrades in order to meet current building code requirements. 

You will need to obtain a business license for your restaurant.  Licenses are issued by the Department of Excise and Licenses for the following types of restaurants: 


Liquor licenses are also required if you plan to serve alcohol at your restaurant.  Visit Department of Excise and Licenses Liquor Licensing Division to learn more about the liquor licenses required. 

Note:  You will need to obtain a zoning permit before you apply for a business license.  For more information view the Zoning Permits for Commercial Projects page.

 

The next step is to begin the permitting process.  Click on your type of project to learn about the development requirements for your restaurant:


 

Food Trucks

A food truck is a readily movable, motorized wheeled vehicle, or a towed wheeled vehicle, designed and equipped to serve food such as a mobile food truck or a push cart.  

Important facts about food trucks:

  • A business license for "Retail Food Establishments, Restaurant Mobile" is required to operate a food truck.
  • Depending on where you park your food truck, a permit may be required.
  • Denver Environmental Health requires that all food trucks or mobile units operate in conjunction with a commissary kitchen or other licensed kitchen.

 

See the Denver Food Truck Guide for more complete information.

 

DevelopDENVER

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