After planning and preparation, now it’s time to begin the final steps to opening your restaurant. Hiring the right employees is one of the biggest factors in your success, and hiring and sustaining employees correctly – and legally – will be an ongoing responsibility. Make sure you’re ready when opening day arrives.
|Hire and Train Employees|
|Final Inspections and Approvals|
You must complete federal and state employment applications and report regularly on wages and taxes. By the time you’re ready to hire employees, you should already have established accounts with the state Department of Revenue, the state Department of Labor and Industries, Employment Security Department, and the Office of the Secretary of State (unless you’re a sole proprietor).
- New Business – Read Section 10 of the Start chapter of the Washington Small Business Guide.
- Existing Business – Read Section 2 of the Grow chapter of the Washington Small Business Guide.
- Federal Requirements – The Internal Revenue Service requires you to collect employee information for your records and for required reporting. The Dept. of Homeland Security requires Form I-9, which must be completed within 3 days of hire. You also need to deposit and report federal employment taxes.
- State Requirements – Within 20 days of hire, newly hired and re-hired employee information must be reported to the state Department of Social and Health Services New Hire Reporting Program using the My Secure DSHS system. Employers are required to follow state workplace wage and hour requirements and to submit quarterly reports and payments to Labor and Industries and Employment Security.
- Teen Workers – Labor and Industries has numerous requirements related to employing workers under 18 years old, including obtaining a Minor Work Permit and completing an authorization form for each minor worker. Labor and Industries’ Hiring Teens page provides complete information on hiring minors.
- Washington State Food Worker Cards – All employees of a food establishment, including cooks, bartenders, servers, hosts, bus persons, etc., are required to obtain a Food Worker Card. The class and test are available online or in-person at Public Health-Seattle & King County or any other county in Washington State.
- Mandatory Alcohol Server Training – Mandatory alcohol server training is required for managers, bartenders, and other employees who serve alcohol or supervise its sale for on-premises consumption. This applies to liquor-licensed establishments like restaurants, nightclubs, taverns, and others.
- Safety and Health Training – Employers are required to provide training to employees on their accident prevention program.
- Seattle Minimum Wage – Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance will increase in the minimum wage in the City of Seattle to $15 an hour, phased in over time. The ordinance allows for different wage-increase schedules for large and small employers over the next several years.
- Paid Sick and Safe Time – Employees in the City of Seattle accrue paid sick and paid safe time for use when an employee or family member needs to take time off from work due to illness or a critical safety issue.
- Job Assistance – The City of Seattle sets limits on how employers can use conviction and arrest records for jobs within City limits.
- Wage Theft – The City of Seattle provides Seattle workers with additional protections from wage theft. OLS can investigate workers’ complaints of nonpayment of wages and tips, creating an administrative process for addressing wage theft complaints.
- Employee Workplace Notices – Employee workplace notices are required or recommended by several state and federal agencies, and must be posted where employees can read them. Posters are available free from state and local regulatory agencies.
- Safe Workplace – Employers must have a written accident prevention program and must provide employees with a safe workplace. Labor and Industries has a Restaurant Industry Safety & Health webpage with customized information and resources to help develop a program.
- Fire Safety and Emergency Plans – Seattle Fire Department requires Fire Safety and Emergency Plans for restaurants, bars, and banquet halls with occupancy of 100 or more.
Before having your final inspection and getting a Certificate of Occupancy, you must meet the following requirements:
- All land use conditions must be complete if you have a Master Use Permit.
- All alarms, pressurization, sprinkler systems, and other safety systems must be approved by the Seattle Fire Marshal’s office. The Seattle Fire Department must approve a final inspection prior to the building inspector’s final inspection.
- Assembly Permit must be obtained from the Fire Department for restaurants with 100+ occupants.
- All mechanical systems must be approved by Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection inspectors.
- All work authorized by trade permits – such as electrical, plumbing, elevator, mechanical, boiler, and street use – must be inspected and finalized. This includes Seattle Public Utilities conditions like water supply provisions and backflow prevention.
- All required signage must be installed (exit, maximum occupancy, maximum storage load, address, etc.).
- All required post-permit submittals must be on file with the Department of Construction and Inspection and all fees paid.
Get a Certificate of Occupancy after all final building, trade, and fire permit approvals are complete and in hand. Call the Department of Construction and Inspections’ Inspection Request Line (206-684-8900) for a final inspection by the building inspector. If everything is in order and in compliance with approved plans, you’ll receive your Certificate of Occupancy.
- Obtain annual Food Service Business Permit after your Food Service Plan is approved and any construction is complete.
- After you’ve paid for this permit, you should set up your pre-operational inspection with the county Health Department (see the following inspections).
- Once you’ve obtained a Food Service Business Permit (above) and the Plumbing Permit sign-off, call the Health Department for your required pre-operational inspection.
- Check your plan approval letter, which may have conditions that you’re required to meet before you open. These conditions will be checked during this inspection. If your restaurant doesn’t meet Health Department standards, you’ll need to make the required changes, and pay $402 for another pre-opening inspection – so be sure you meet all the requirements before setting up your inspection. See the Health Department Food Service Permitting webpage.
- The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board will conduct a new liquor license technical support visit within 6 weeks of opening – but some liquor licenses may require inspection before you open your doors.
- Your local enforcement officer can help you understand liquor laws and regulation. The officer will check your required signs, answer any questions, and review operations with you.
- Officers will conduct ongoing enforcement, such as compliance checks and premises visits, to ensure you’re serving safely.
- You are required to post signs and licenses at your business based on your license type. These signs are available at no charge once you obtain your liquor license. Liquor and Cannabis Board enforcement officers and local law enforcement will look for these signs and licenses when visiting your business.