You’ll need several legal approvals before opening a restaurant — a food business licence, development approval and liquor licence. You must also meet food and fire safety standards. Otherwise, there’s a chance your restaurant won’t pass its first inspection. This article explains the legal obligations to meet before opening a restaurant in Queensland.

Permitted Use

You must first ensure that you can use your premises as a restaurant. The local planning scheme may require you to gain specific approvals for this. Therefore, you’ll need to contact your local council to make sure you have the necessary approvals to use the premises as a restaurant. This should be done before you commit to opening a restaurant at those premises — you don’t want to pay money only to find you’re not allowed to open.

Food Business Licence

To serve food at your restaurant, you’ll usually need a food business licence. Generally, if you are making or selling unpackaged food, you’ll need to apply to the local council for a licence. Each local council has a different application process, but usually involves submitting paperwork followed by an inspection of your premises. For example, the Brisbane City Council application process can be read online. The inspection, which examines your premises’ suitability for serving food, is a key milestone before opening a restaurant. Your local council may also be able to provide further information on health inspections.

You’ll also need to elect a food safety supervisor for your restaurant. This can be an employee and you may have more than one supervisor. The food safety supervisor:

  • must understand, prevent and mitigate food safety hazards;
  • be knowledgeable in food safety matters relevant to your business;
  • can supervise and direct other food handlers about food safety; and
  • be easily contactable while the restaurant is operating.

Liquor Licence

If you’re thinking about serving alcohol at your restaurant, the Liquor Act 1992 (Qld) applies. You will need a subsidiary on-premises liquor licence from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation. To qualify for this licence, the primary activity of your restaurant must be the preparation and serving of meals.

Food Health and Safety Standards

You will need to follow the food industry standards in the Food Act 2006 (Qld), the Food Regulation 2016 and the Food Production (Safety) Act 2000 (Qld). These laws set out a restaurant’s obligations on ensuring that the food is safe and suitable for human consumption, in particular:

  • the food safety requirements and general practices; and
  • isolating potential contaminants in food.

Some typical obligations that you would have on a daily basis would include:

  • regular temperature checks to ensure meat and dairy products under 5 degrees;
  • regular checks to ensure that all food is within the best by or use before date; and
  • a thorough clean up is conducted at close of business each night.

Work Health and Safety

As an employer, you must provide work health and safety training to your staff under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld). This includes training when they begin work and on a regular basis. Whenever you make a change to your restaurant, for example — a new coffee machine or procedure, you should update your training.

You may also need to consider personal protective equipment for your kitchen staff, such as aprons and gloves. To protect your staff, ensure that you train your staff about safe work habits, which might include:

  • lifting heavy items;
  • the use of deep fryers;
  • picking up hot objects with heat resistant gloves or clothes; and
  • immediate cleanup of spills.

Fire and Emergency Safety

After opening your restaurant in Queensland, you will need to comply with the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 (Qld) and the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 (Qld). For example, you’ll need to train your staff about what to do in case of a fire or emergency. This training should include evacuation procedure, assembly point locations and how to use the fire equipment.

Key Takeaways

There’s a maze of legal requirements to navigate before opening a restaurant. From your food business licence to fire safety standards, you must meet every point to pass inspection.

Having an experienced lawyer on your side makes a big difference when opening a restaurant. To make this go smoothly, call LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or complete the form on this page.

Evangelia Douventzidis
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