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Are you thinking of opening up a small bar in Adelaide? This article is a step by step guide to help you create that convivial space of relaxing music, good wine and smart conversation.

Step 1: Be Clear About Your Goal

It sounds simple, but this will smooth the process for you. Ask yourself what you want exactly. For example, will you serve food? Do you want tables on the pavement? Are you thinking of a sign? The answers will help you to know what permits you require, what applications you must make and what information you need to know. Serving food requires you to lodge a Food Business Notification Form with Adelaide City Council. You will need to be aware of relevant Food and Drink Safety Standards. You will also require a Discharge Permit from SA Water. While all of this happens a little later in the process, being clear now will save you time.

Step 2: Locate your Business Premises

Of course, you will need to find the perfect space for your perfect bar. However, regardless of whether you plan to lease or buy your premises, do not sign any contracts now. Without being certain of the outcome of your development application to the Adelaide City Council or the Consumer and Business Services for a Liquor Licence, signing a contract is premature. It could ultimately prove costly.

Step 3: Contact Renewal SA

As part of Adelaide’s Vibrant City initiative, Renewal SA offers a streamlined pre-lodgement process for small licensed venues. To participate, you will need to contact the Investment Team either online or via phone number.

Post Contact

After making contact, a case manager will be assigned to you. Together you will be able to work towards making your dream a reality. At your first meeting, you must provide to your Case Manager:

  • A Service Application Form;
  • Description of your plan;
  • Broad site context analysis including photographs; and
  • Preliminary Drawings.

The forms are available on the SA Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure website It is advisable to be as prepared as you can before initiating contact with Renewal SA. While it will take you more time, it will enable the pre-lodgement process to unwind in a more streamlined fashion.

Your Case Manager will explain the process and evaluate whether your proposal is eligible for a small venue licence. Your Case Manager will also organise a meeting between yourself and the Adelaide City Council’s Planning, Building and Liquor Licensing Officers. They can overview your proposal and tour your intended premises.

Submit Applications

At this point, you are ready to lodge all relevant applications. This will include:

  • Small Venue Licence Application (to Consumer and Business Services)
  • Personal Information Declaration (to Consumer and Business Services)
  • Development Application Form (to Adelaide City Council)
  • Food business Notification Form (to Adelaide City Council).

Of course, depending on your particular proposal, this list may not be exhaustive.
The Adelaide City Council will then take approximately six weeks to assess your application. For their part, Consumer and Business Services will initiate a 28 day notification period. Once the period is complete and there are no outstanding items, you are likely to receive your license. If all proceeds well, you are now able to begin making your dream a reality.

A New Horizon

Of course, this is only a beginning. You will need to engage tradesman to complete any alterations to your premises. You will also need to buy the necessary equipment and furnishings for your small bar. As an employer, you will need to know all of your obligations towards your staff including superannuation, awards and penalty rates. You will also be required to provide a safe workplace for your employees – to meet all Occupational Health and Safety requirements and maintain a workplace free of discrimination and harassment.

It is essential that you have recourse to professional assistance. A business lawyer that you trust to review your contracts and offer advice will be invaluable. You might also like to think about contacting a business advisor. Questions? Call us on 1300 544 755.


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