How to Open a Restaurant in Arizona: Business Plan, Setup Cost, Profit, Requirements, and License/Permit

Arizona is one of the fastest-growing states in the U.S., and restaurants are strong contributors to this trend. It is a business that prepares and serves food to customers. Meals are served and eaten on the premises, but many restaurants offer take-out and delivery services. 

How to Open a Restaurant in Arizona

How to open a restaurant in Arizona

How do you choose a restaurant location in Arizona?

Selecting the right location for your restaurant is critical. Firstly, you’ll need to research the demographics, market, and competition in your location, the actual restaurant space, and its size, visibility, and history. If you choose to have a physical location for your restaurant, you can either buy or lease restaurant space, or you can build your restaurant from the ground up. Here are some additional tips to focus on evaluating a restaurant location:

  • Target market and ideal customer profile
  • Real estate market conditions
  • Community
  • Size of the site
  • Previous tenants

Naturally, your restaurant’s location and the space’s layout should bring your idea to life. It’s important to remember that your location and available square footage will also play a huge role in your kitchen design and restaurant floor plan. Suppose you envision creating a high-volume fast-casual Italian concept with an exposed kitchen, for example. In that case, you will need a larger footprint and the ability to knock down walls and install proper ventilation. Some landlords may not let you have this leniency. 

Understanding the restaurant business in Arizona

To open a restaurant business in Arizona, you will first need to understand the required licenses and permits. Food service is the most common license required to operate a restaurant. This license allows you to serve food and beverages to customers in your establishment. Also, you will need to apply for a health department inspection, which is mandatory for all restaurants.

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Restaurant Management

A general business license is required if you plan on operating more than one restaurant from the same location. This license allows you to make changes to your property, such as adding or removing rooms, making alterations to the exterior, and installing new equipment. You will also need to apply for city permits if your establishment plans on having live entertainment or selling alcohol.

Tips to keep your restaurant business running smoothly

  • Create a business plan outlining your restaurant goals and how you plan on achieving them. Next, you’ll need to find a suitable property or location for your business. 
  • Decide what type of restaurant you want to open. Many casual dining options are available, from family-owned restaurants to fast-food chains. If you have ambitions of opening a more upscale establishment, however, you will need to invest more time and money into advertising and marketing your business.
  • Once you have decided on the restaurant type you want to open, the next step is researching the local market. This information can be found by talking to past customers, reading local reviews online, or attending business conventions. After you have collected all of this information, it is time to start planning your menu. 
  • Create a solid business plan and marketing strategy. Finally, hire qualified staff and manage them effectively so your restaurant runs smoothly from beginning to end.
  • A smartly designed food menu can do wonders for your restaurant. A well-designed menu draws customers’ attention to the high-profit items and boosts sales. Therefore, a smart menu is one of the most crucial characteristics of a good restaurant. 
  • If you look at what a successful restaurant does that a relatively less busy restaurant doesn’t, it is often the food menu design. Even if the items served at the two outlets are the same, chances are the famous restaurant has efficiently tapped the menu to draw profits.

Key rules to open a restaurant business in Arizona

  • It’s essential to do research and find the right location. 
  • Make sure you have the financial backing to start your business and hire the right employees. Be prepared to work hard and stay focused on your goals.
  • You will need first to have a valid business license from the state and pass a food safety inspection. Additionally, make sure to create a solid marketing plan and menu design so your restaurant can thrive in the competitive landscape of the state. 
  • Keep track of taxes and other costs associated with running a restaurant, such as employees’ wages and utilities.

Step to create restaurant business plan in Arizona

1. Write a business plan – Note down the target market, the location you intend to set up your restaurant business, and the unique aspects you plan to include in your business. Write financial plans, proposed staffing, projected sales, and marketing and operational strategy.

2. Consider your target market – The type of cuisine you serve is important, but so is the location. Make sure that the area you’re considering has a population that loves your food.

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Restaurant Cleaning

3. Find sources of financing – Personal savings is the main source of finance for business people. If your savings are insufficient, look for a bank or private loan from investors. Remember to contact the Small Business Administration of Arizona to help connect you with an appropriate lender.

4. Get a restaurant business license and permit – Contact your attorney to help you with the licensing and permit requirements relevant to your business. Choose a business structure for your restaurant, name it and register it as a legal entity. Apply for a health permit from your local county office. Visit the Arizona Department of Commerce for a comprehensive list of city offices responsible for issuing restaurant business licenses and permits.

5. Purchase equipment – One of the most capital-intensive investment areas in the food business is your kitchen equipment and supplies. You will need commercial kitchen equipment to ensure that you can cater to larger orders and that your food is prepared professionally.

Purchasing your kitchen equipment can be expensive in the initial phase. You can reduce the financial pressure on your business by going for equipment rentals or leasing facilities. Stock up on serving dishes, commercial stoves, coolers, utensils, and any other item necessary for your start-up. 

6. Build relationships with local businesses and franchisers – It’s important to build relationships with other businesses in the area to get the word out about your new restaurant, as well as get discounts on menu items and equipment rentals.

7. Create a menu – You must decide beforehand what ingredients you will need to source and what kind of culinary expertise you would want your chefs to have. If you intend to have a vast menu, shortlist a few items you will launch at the start rather than opening with a full menu.

Starting small makes management much easier while your restaurant is teething and allows you some time to get the hang of the industry. Next, identify target customers and the type of food most appropriate to serve them. Look for menu content and design trends. Then, create your menu using straightforward language.

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Restaurant Open Board

8. Hire employees – Engage employees who are courteous and can greet and serve customers well. Get kitchen staff who can cook well and those with prior restaurant business experience. Hire cooks who specialize in the type of food you intend to serve. The most important aspect of opening a restaurant business in Arizona is staffing your establishment with qualified employees.

Choosing employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to run your restaurant effectively is important. In addition, providing your employees with adequate training and mentorship is essential to improve their skills as they work in your restaurant. 

9. Market and promote your restaurant – It is crucial to maintain effective accounting and management systems to keep track of your restaurant’s financial status and ensure that you make prudent financial decisions. In addition, it is important to implement marketing strategies that will attract new customers to your restaurant establishment. For example, advertise your restaurant business through newspapers, radio commercials, TV commercials, or any other platform that fits your budget.

Licenses and permits need to open a restaurant business in Arizona

Every state has a set of regulations in place for acquiring relevant licenses and permits before you start your business. You would not want to end up in a legal mess if you started an unregistered or unlicensed business. Moreover, registering your brand name is extremely important to ensure no one else steals or uses your business identity, and you have a claim on the business name if it is used by someone else in the future.

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Restaurant Management

You will need several licenses and permits to open up a restaurant in Arizona, including a food handler’s permit, an operating permit, an insurance certificate, and more. The food handler’s permit is the most important because it requires proper training and knowledge to handle food safely. You will also need an operating permit to open your restaurant during business hours and an insurance certificate if your restaurant serves alcohol. The licenses you’ll need to open a restaurant in Arizona include the following:

  • Business License
  • Certificate of Occupancy
  • Food Handler’s License, also known as Food Service License
  • Seller’s Permit
  • Liquor License Permit
  • Food Facility Health Permit
  • Building Health Permit

In Arizona, business licenses are controlled by the city or county you live in. If you operate a restaurant with multiple locations across cities and counties, getting a business license for each business in different jurisdictions is important. To get a business license in Arizona, you’ll need the following:

  • An EIN
  • To choose what classification of business you’ll be
  • A business name
  • An address and phone number
  • A thorough restaurant business plan
  • A COI for your business insurance policy

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Restaurant Food Serving

Arizona business license costs vary depending on the county, type, and scope of the business. In addition to the necessary licenses and permits, some guidelines must be followed when opening a restaurant in Arizona. For example, you must adhere to health code regulations, which mandate adequate ventilation for your kitchen facilities, regular cleaning, and preventing pests from entering your kitchen. Finally, research local ordinances before opening your restaurant to know what requirements may apply.

Cost to open a restaurant business in Arizona

Starting a restaurant business in Arizona costs between $95,000 and $2 million. Opening a restaurant includes property acquisition costs, licensing fees, permits and taxes, and initial equipment purchases. Other ongoing expenses include food costs, employee wages, marketing, and advertising expenditures, and depreciation on purchased assets.

Loans available for opening a restaurant business in Arizona

Some options available to restaurateurs looking to enter business in Arizona include brick-and-mortar bank loans, alternative loans, SBA loans, merchant cash advances, lines of credit, crowdfunding, and turning to friends or family for financial support. They vary widely in application requirements, how much you can take out, what kind of collateral you’ll need, the type of repayment and the repayment schedule, and how quickly you can receive funding.

Do you need any permits to sell food in Arizona?

You need an Arizona Department of Agriculture to permit you to sell food in Arizona. A few requirements must be met before applying for the permit, including having a business plan and meeting certain health and safety standards. 

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Restaurant Kitchen Design

Marketing your restaurant business in Arizona

When marketing your restaurant, there are several key strategies you can use. One option is advertising; this can be done through print ads, online listings, or even social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It would help if you also cultivated a good reputation in your area; this means providing excellent service and making sure your food is of high quality.

Finally, keep in mind that opening a restaurant isn’t cheap, so be prepared to invest money into advertising, kitchen equipment, and other costs associated with running a business. Once your restaurant runs, you must focus on marketing your business properly to ensure success.


The restaurant business is profitable in the commercial food service industry, with a focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, and growth. The restaurant business in Arizona is considered a major driving force in the state’s economy because of its tremendous contribution to tax revenue. In addition, the restaurant industry contributes to the nation’s productivity, food and healthy living, jobs and careers, sustainability, and social responsibility. 


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