Create Your Business

  • Create a plan for the type of restaurant you will open. The Small Business Centre can help you write your plan.  link to a representative for more help

  • Determine your legal structure. Starting a new business means choosing a legal structure that will suit your business needs. The Small Business Centre can help you determine what structure is right for you.  link to a representative for more help

  • Register your business name. Once you have determined the right business structure for you, visit Service Ontario's ONe-Source for Business to register your business name and obtain your Master Business Licence.

  • Apply for a Business Number. The Canada Revenue Agency's Business Registration Online is a one-stop, online, self-serve application that allows you to register for a Business Number, as well as four program accounts: Corporation income tax, GST/HST, and payroll.

  • Research the insurance you will need, such as employment insurance, worker's compensation, etc. Some are required for permits and licenses.

  • Become familiar with provincial and municipal laws governing food safety and tobacco. Visit the Middlesex London Health Unit to access all the information you will need.  link to a representative for more help

  • Apply for your Liquor Licence early in order to avoid delays. Visit the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to download your application or call 1-800-522-2876.

  • important information

    The types of food and beverages you sell, such as frozen desserts and alcohol, will affect which permits and licenses you need.

  • important information

    An accountant can help you prepare financially for HST payments and installments, payroll, etc.

Plan Your Space

  • Find a location zoned for your business. The City of London's Zoning Division can help you with this. 519-661-4555

  • Thinking of locating Downtown? Downtown London can help.  link to a representative for more help

  • You may wish to have a licensed professional review your plan before any construction.

  • Sign your lease. Before signing your lease, speak with City of London Zoning Officer.  link to a representative for more help

  • To learn what Building, Fire and Health inspectors often look for check out our Consolidated Inspector's Checklist.

  • The City of London offers financial incentives for building improvements in the Downtown, Old East Village and SOHO areas. Speak with the Planning Division to learn more. 519-661-4980

  • Do you plan to have a patio? Contact the Middlesex-London Health Unit to learn about tobacco regulations for patios at smokefreeinfo@mlhu.on.ca 519-661-5317 ext. 2673  link to a representative for more help

  • important information

    Taking over a space that previously was a restaurant can save time and construction costs, but only if the restaurant had passed inspections and was in compliance with existing regulations.

  • important information

    There are different processes for heritage properties. Consult the Planning Division to learn more. 519-661-4980

  • important information

    Cosmetic changes can add time and paperwork, so consider the impact of each change on your timeline.

  • critical information

    Health violations are sometimes identified after you open your business. Pay attention now to avoid costly changes after you are open. Contact the Middlesex London Health Unit early to have them review your building plans.  link to a representative for more help

  • critical information

    Check your kitchen's grease interceptor, or plan to install one. All commercial kitchens must capture grease from sinks, woks, floor drains, and other fixtures to prevent clogged pipes and sewer backups.

Apply For Your Building Permit

  • The type of restaurant you plan to open, as well as the type of food you will serve can affect your construction requirements, such as the number of hand wash sinks, food preparation surfaces, etc. The Middlesex-London Health Unit can help you determine your construction needs.  link to a representative for more help

  • Cooking on stoves or with gas ovens requires a range hood and fire suppression system. Consult a Fire Inspector if you are unsure.  link to a representative for more help

  • Submit your building permit application in person (7th Floor, City Hall). The type of restaurant you plan to open will determine the length of the review period.  link to a representative for more help

  • Monitor the status of your application on the City's Building Permit Inspection System.  link to a representative for more help

  • critical information

    Know the utility requirements for your property (gas, electric, water, sewer) and consider the potential costs.

Begin Construction

  • After your plans have been approved your Building Permit will be issued. All permits must be displayed at the worksite.

  • Begin construction.

  • Mandatory inspections will be made throughout construction. Your Building Permit will include a list of the required inspections for your project.

  • If you want to install a canopy or signs on the outside of the building, ensure you comply with the City of London Sign & Canopy By-law.

  • important information

    Be aware of construction overruns. They can add time and cost to your project.

Apply For Your Business Licence

  • Make sure that all permits related to your property are closed. Access the City's Property Inquiry System online or contact the Building Division. 519-661-4555  link to a representative for more help

  • When completing your Business Licence application, don't forget to bring:

    • Copy of lease or property ownership confirmation
    • Master Business Licence or Articles of Incorporation
    • Site Plan (if you are planning to request a liquor licence for an outside patio) link to a representative for more help

  • The Licensing Division will arrange your final inspections once your application is submitted.

  • important information

    A Business Licence Application is valid for 90 days. Make sure that you plan to open within 90 days of your application date.  link to a representative for more help

Prepare To Open

  • Obtain your Business Licence. The Licensing Office will mail this to you once all inspections are complete.  link to a representative for more help

  • Make sure you or one of your employees has a Food Handler Certificate – a certificate holder must be on premises supervising food preparation at all times. Certification can be obtained through the Middlesex-London Health Unit.  link to a representative for more help

  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training will be required for any employees handling controlled products (chemicals) used in dishwashing equipment, cleaning and disinfectants, etc.

  • Ensure that anyone serving alcohol in your establishment has obtained their Smart Serve Training Program certificate.

  • Thinking about opening a sidewalk café? Consult Realty Services. 519-661-5442

  • important information

    Hire a private hauler for recycling and waste removal services. Resources such as the Yellow Pages can provide a list of service providers.

  • important information

    If 75 people or more will gather in your restaurant at any time you will need an Assembly Occupancy permit.

  • critical information

    Ensure you have a health and safety program in place. As of July 1, 2014, every Ontario worker must undergo health and safety awareness training. Contact Workplace Safety and Prevention Services to get started. 1-877-494-9777

Open Your Doors

You've opened your doors and are operating your restaurant. Congratulations! Plan ahead to keep things running smoothly.

Staying Open

  • Post all required permits and signs, such as your Liquour Licence, Middlesex-London Health Unit Premises Inspection Summary, No Smoking signs, etc.

  • Mark your calendar. Schedule equipment maintenance and set reminders to renew your permits, licences and certifications.

  • Be ready for inspections. Random inspections can take place any time throughout the year.

  • Work with your accountant to prepare your income tax return. Visit the Canada Revenue Agency to learn more.

  • If you own your space - be prepared to pay property taxes. Installment due dates are noted on your tax bill. Contact the City of London Tax Division to learn more.

  • Avoid sewer backups by properly maintaining your grease interceptor.

  • Thinking of making changes to your space? A new building permit will be required when making further changes. Contact the Building Division to learn more. 519-661-4555 link to a representative for more help

Nicole Musicco

Not sure where to start?
Our Business Connector is here to help!
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Nicole Musicco

Business Connector - Service London

City of London

Phone: 519-661-2500 Ext. 7650

Email: nmusicco@london.ca

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Nicole can help you navigate the process of starting or expanding your business from start to finish. Contact her today to book an appointment.

Ask Us - We Can Help!

Restaurant champions
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Catherine DeForest

Manager, Business Services, Development & Compliance: City of London

Phone: (519) 661-2500 ext. 1541

Email: cdefores@london.ca

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David Pavletic, MPH, CPHI(C)

Manager, Environmental Health: Middlesex-London Health Unit

Phone: (519) 663-5317 ext. 2303

Email: david.pavletic@mlhu.on.ca

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Lou Pompilii

Manager, Zoning and Public Property Compliance, Development and Compliance: City of London

Phone: (519) 661-2500 ext. 4998

Email: lpompili@london.ca

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Phil Singeris

Business Information Advisor: Small Business Centre

Phone: (519) 659-2882 ext. 227

Email: psingeris@sbcentre.ca

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John Anagnostou

Business Advisor: Small Business Centre

Phone: (519) 659-2882 ext. 230

Email: janagnostou@sbcentre.ca

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Dianne Lebold

Assistant Chief Fire Prevention Officer: London Fire Services

Phone: (519) 661-2500 ext. 4996

Email: dlebold@london.ca

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Kathy McLaughlin

Program Coordinator: Downtown London

Phone: (519) 432-9816

Email: kathy@downtownlondon.ca

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Linda Stobo

Manager, Tobacco Control: Middlesex-London Health Unit

Phone: (519) 663-5317 ext. 2388

Email: linda.stobo@mlhu.on.ca

Become a Champion

To find out how, call us at:

(519) 661-2500 ext. 4893

Or email: rwilcox@london.ca