We explain what you need to know to open a catering business in Minneapolis.


A caterer is a restaurant or food business that prepares or serves food at private events.

What caterers do

Caterers prepare or serve food, or both, at a private event with a predetermined guest list. 

Event examples:

  • Receptions
  • Parties
  • Conferences
  • Weddings
  • Trade shows

Rules for caterers


  • We do not require a catering license for food delivery, such as box lunches or pizza.
Catering bread and pastries on table

Get your license

See the steps to get and maintain a license.

Tips for opening your business

You can find information from the City about how to start a new business.

Meet with a Business Licensing customer service representative

Meet with a business licensing customer service representative to go over the requirements for your food license. Your business cannot open until you have your license.

See how to get help at the City of Minneapolis service center

Review the business license application

You must have a license to operate a food business in Minneapolis.

See the caterer application

Request Sewer Availability Charge (SAC)

You may have to pay a fee for the waste water from your business.

About SAC fee application:

  • Apply for your SAC fee early. This fee can be expensive. 
  • After you apply, the Met Council will send you a SAC determination letter in 10 to 15 days. This letter will tell you your SAC fee.  

Apply online for your SAC fee

Find out if you qualify for the City's SAC deferral program for small businesses. Read about SAC basics

Complete a food plan review

You must submit plans for:

  • A new food or alcohol business, including food carts, kiosks, and trucks
  • Remodeling or expanding an existing food or alcohol business
  • Replacing food equipment that requires gas, mechanical or plumbing permits for installation
  • Adding ventless cooking equipment or ventless hoods

If you need to submit plans, they must be approved before you start any work. 

Find more information about food plan review 

Make a plan to have a Certified Food Protection Manager

Minnesota state law requires restaurants to have a Certified Food Protection Manager at each location. They must be on staff within 60 days of opening.  Certification requires attending an approved food safety class and passing an exam. 

See the Certified Food Protection Manager requirements

Licensed kitchens

Kitchen options include:

  • Institutional kitchen: Churches, or other community institutions like schools, often have large, health-inspected kitchens that are not always in use. They may be willing to rent you space during off times.
  • Restaurant kitchen: Some restaurants are willing to rent out their kitchen space during times when they are not open.
  • Shared commercial kitchen: This can be a good option if you are looking for some additional business support in addition to kitchen space. Often, shared commercial kitchens are connected to business support organizations.
  • Private commercial kitchen: If your operation is larger and you need a dedicated kitchen space you don’t have to share with anyone else, look into leasing out your own private commercial kitchen.

Gather documents you will need for your license application

The application may require documents, such as:

  • A proposed menu
  • A floor plan for your space
  • Your food plan review

Submit all required documents and fees to your Development Coordinator

Upon document submittal, your Development Coordinator will forward your documents to the appropriate City departments for review and approval. They will be your main point of contact throughout the regulatory process.

More information

Review and consider all requirements when starting your business.

See information about your operating your business

Tell your new neighbors about your business 

Contact your council member, neighborhood organization, and business association where your business will be located.

  • Promote and create interest in your business
  • Network with local residents and leaders
  • Learn about resources they may offer small businesses 

Send an email to your:

See a sample letter

Be prepared for health inspections

Your first routine inspection will occur within 60 days of opening. We focus on food safety.  Be sure to follow good food safety practices and regularly complete a self-inspection. 

Read about food safety

After you open

Find out what to do once your business is open and running.

Expand your business

The City offers financing to help you cover costs of expansion, such as equipment.

If you change equipment or add seating to your business, you may need to:

Renew your business license

Your business license must be renewed every April. We will send your renewal information in the mail 30 days before it is due.

View the City's Business Licensing Renewal Process video

Request accessible format

If you need help with this information, please email 311, or call 311 or 612-673-3000.

Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Contact us

Small Business Team

Community Planning & Economic Development




Public Service Building
505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 320
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Business Licenses & Consumer Services

Community Planning & Economic Development






Public Service Building 
505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 220
Minneapolis, MN 55415