Rules and regulations
Owning a restaurant means there are a mountain of regulations you must abide by. Your kitchens must adhere to strict rules concerning hygiene. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is the body appointed by government responsible for all food safety standards.
The organisation can provide you with advice on all food hygiene matters and has a publication called ‘Safer Food, Better Business’ which will help you comply with the law and make your premises safe for the public. The publication covers key areas on serving food including contamination, cleaning, chilling, cooking, management and keeping a food diary. To order this book contact the FSA on 0845 606 0667 or email email@example.com
Currently, there is no law that states you must undertake formal training to open a restaurant. However, you must ensure that you and anyone else working with food at your business has the appropriate level of training and/or supervision to do their job properly. The legal responsibility lies with the business owner, so make sure you have all the information you need.
You are also required to register your premises with the environmental health service at your local authority at least 28 days before the first meals are served, and if you’re planning to sell or supply alcohol you will need to apply for a licence.
Food hygiene law is rigorous and anyone setting up in business in catering will have to think very carefully about where they set up and what equipment they buy. Remember that environmental health officers make regular inspections of food businesses and have the power of closure if they think you are not up to scratch.
Mechanical and electrical ventilation systems are compulsory. Refrigeration systems need to be digitally controlled. Steve Cox explains: “You can’t just buy a couple of old domestic fridges. It’s really what you can’t see in the restaurant that actually costs the most.”
In addition, the amount of electrical and gas powered equipment required by most restaurants means it’s easy to fall foul of health and safety at laws unless you impose strict controls. The building and wiring must be safe and your kitchen must be a reasonable size to cope with the restaurant.
You also need to make sure your premises has the right commercial classification. Restaurants need an A3 classification, which is often the hardest classification to obtain. You will find this also has a bearing on the rental or purchase value of your chosen premises. Simply put, premises with the A3 classification cost more.
Up until 2005 the A3 classification covered all food and drink establishments including restaurants, bars, pubs and take-aways. However, in April 2005 the classification was split and is now as follows:
A3 – Restaurants, snack bars and cafés
A4 – pubs and bars
A5 – take-aways
This means if you ever decided to change your A3 classified premises from a restaurant to a pub or take-away you would need planning consent. However, changes from pub or take-away to restaurant do not need prior consent as long as the permitted development rights have not been excluded in relation to your specific property.
For a more detailed guide to starting a restaurant check out the Startups.co.uk book Starting Your Own Restaurant, available from Crimson Publishing and Amazon