Caterer

Find out what you need to know to open a catering company in Minneapolis.

Create a plan

Learn the steps needed to begin your business.

Research the process

Planning, launching, and running a business is a lot of work. Review the necessary steps required to start a business.

View the 10 steps to start your business

Connect with a small business consultant

Building a relationship with a small business consultant can be a crucial step in your journey as an entrepreneur. The Minneapolis Business Technical Assistance Program (B-TAP) is able to connect you to business training, support, and advice for opening your business. 

See if you qualify for the Small Business Technical Assistance Program (B-TAP)

Write a business plan

Starting a business can be expensive. You will need to have enough money to run your business for at least the first several months without relying on a profit. Using calculations from your business plan, determine how much capital you will need to start to ensure your business will start and run successfully.

Learn how to build a better business plan

Secure financing for your business

Connect with a lender from a community bank, credit union, or Community Development Financial Institution.

Determine if you qualify for any of the City’s financing resources

Lenders will want to see that you have some initial capital invested in your business before underwriting a loan.

See if you quality for a 2 percent loan

Choose a location

Explore different kitchen types to determine which location is best for your business needs.

Food and resturants licensing and permits

Know the City's requirements for catering and food service

Read the City's requirements related to food and restaurants including community 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.

Request Sewer Availability Charge (SAC) determination letter

If you add any new equipment to the kitchen you are using, you may be required to pay a fee for the waste water your business will generate. This fee can be high, so get an estimate early to plan for the cost. It can take 10-15 days to receive your SAC determindation letter once you request it. Check if you qualify for the City’s SAC deferral program for small businesses.

Read the SAC basics for business and property owners

Contact the neighborhood business association

Locate the neighborhood business association where your new business will be located to get their support and learn about the resources they offer small businesses. 

Find your neighborhood organization

Sign your lease

Before you sign, ensure the kitchen you will be using meets all license requirements.

Read the City's requirements related to food and restaurants including community kitchens

Register your business

All businesses in Minnesota must be registered with the Secretary of State. Make sure you follow every step so your business is registered properly.

Verify your business name

You can use the Secretary of State Online Business Services page to check name availability. 

Check availability

Choose a business structure

Decide what type of business structure is right for your business. 

See how best to organize your business

Register your business with the MN Secretary of State

LLCs, Corporations, Nonprofits, and Limited Partnerships must register with the State of Minnesota. 

Learn how to register your business

File a Certificate of Assumed Name

if you will be using a name other than your given name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation. 

See the types of Minnesota businesses

Apply for a MN Tax ID and a Federal Employer ID Number

Before you begin withholding state taxes, you must register for a Minnesota tax ID number. If you fail to register prior to withholding Minnesota taxes, you may be subject to a $100 penalty. A Minnesota Tax ID and a Federal Employer ID Number are used to identify your business. If you are a sole proprietor, you may be able to use your Social Security Number instead. 

https://goo.gl/aHRucU (BROKEN LINK)

Research the insurance you will need

Insurance such as workers’ compensation, liability, and disability insurance can be required of new businesses. If you will have employees besides yourself and members of your immediate family, you need to have workers compensation insurance. Your policy number is required to complete your business license application. If you register your business before choosing a final location, you will have to update your registration with the new address.

http://www.dli.mn.gov/WC/Employer.asp (BROKEN LINK)

Get your license

Review the steps to receive and maintain a license.

Meet with your Development Coordinator

Your business cannot open, operate or serve the public prior to receiving your business license. Meet with a Development Coordinator at the Minneapolis Development Review Customer Service Center to go over the requirements for the business license type you will need.

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Review the business license application

Opening a food business in Minneapolis requires a business license.

https://goo.gl/zqrXxQ (BROKEN LINK)

Complete Food Plan Review application

Food plan review applications are required of all new food businesses. 

https://goo.gl/6o7LPf (BROKEN LINK)

Make a plan to have a certified food manager on site

Minnesota state law requires that a certified food manager be present on site at all times when your restaurant is operating. Certification requires a day-long class in food safety.

https://goo.gl/tEk9WZ (BROKEN LINK)

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, and 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.

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Additional information

Review and consider all requirements when starting your business.

Hiring employees

Be sure to follow all wage and employment guidelines. 

State guidelines http://www.dli.mn.gov/LaborLaw.asp (BROKEN LINK).

Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Sick and Safe Time 

Minneapolis Minimum Wage Labor Standards Enforcement Division

Expanding your customer base

Creating a marketing plan is a great first step to identify who your potential customers are and how to connect with them. The Small Business Administration offers a variety of resources to help you think through what you should include in your marketing plan. 

Marketing and sales

Putting up a sign or awning

Make sure your business complies with size and location requirements. If you don’t own your building, make sure you work with your landlord if you’d like to put up a new sign or awning. Sign Permits are only issued to Sign Contractors licensed by the City. 

Sign Permits

Investing in green programs for your business

The City of Minneapolis offers Cost Sharing awards up to $100,000 for businesses willing to invest in cleaner, greener, or more efficient technologies.

Environmental Programs

Making changes to your business

If your business needs to add a piece of equipment or expanding your operations, meet with your Development Coordinator as you may need to update your SAC determination, submit a new Food Plan, and obtain an additional license.

You can always call 311 with any questions, and they will connect you to the right person at the City.

After opening

Review the steps you need to complete once your business is open and running.

Post all required posters and permits

Your business license, occupant load, and required state labor law permits and posters need to be posted in your business. 

http://www.dli.mn.gov/ls/posters.asp (BROKEN LINK)

Mark your calendar

Set reminders to renew your permits and licenses as needed. Failure to renew a license by the license expiration date will result in license expiration, late renewal penalties, and an ineligibility to offer services.

If your kitchen has a hood exhaust system, it will have to be cleaned and inspected twice a year. Touch base with the owner of the kitchen to make sure you know who is responsible for scheduling maintenance.

Renew your business license

Your business license must be renewed annually. 

View the City of Minneapolis Business Licensing Renewal Process video

Pay pollution control annual billing

You are required to pay an annual fee for any equipment that has an impact on the environment. 

https://goo.gl/2FbCao (BROKEN LINK)

Be prepared for health inspections

Be sure you are always following food safety practices by regularly completing a self-inspection. 

https://goo.gl/f2mJZR (BROKEN LINK)

Prepare and pay your local, state, and federal taxes

MISSING INFO

Business Taxes

Expand your business

The City offers financing that can be used to help you cover costs of expansion, such as equipment. If you plan to expand, make sure to connect with your Development Coordinator who can guide you through any regulatory steps.

Contact us

Small Business Team

Community Planning & Economic Development

Phone

612-673-2499

Address

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