Restaurant Starter Kit



Use this kit as a general overview of what it would take to open a restaurant business in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Beyond the general steps required to start your business there are certain considerations that specifically apply to restaurant businesses.


The Montgomery County Department of Health & Human Services issue licenses for restaurants.

Food Trucks

  • Anyone who plans to sell or give away food from a non-fixed location, including food trucks, must first obtain a Mobile Food Service Unit license. The only exception to the law is the sale of fresh produce or live crustaceans. Specific regulations apply to food trucks and are enforced by the Mobile Food Service Unit .
  • Mobile Units must be inspected prior to licensing. 
  • A vendor’s license from the Department of Permitting Services may be required. 

Restaurants must obtain a Trader’s License from the Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Displaying a License
Please be sure to display the license, not the application, in plain view. Failure to do so may result in fines and/or penalties.

Liquor Licenses

​If you are planning to sell alcohol in your restaurant the Department of Liquor Control issues alcoholic beverage license. Review the guidance contained in the publication How to Apply for a New or Transfer Annual Alcohol Beverage License in Montgomery County, MD

  • Alcoholic Beverage License Application
  • Establishments that serve alcohol must maintain at least one licensee or designated employee who has been currently certified in an alcohol awareness training program approved by the Maryland State Comptroller's Office (find approved state certified training courses).
  • Establishments that serve alcohol must have a certified license-holder or a certified person employed in a supervisory capacity designated by the licensee present during the hours in which alcohol may be sold.
  • Certification must be renewed every four years to remain current.
  • Failure to have a certified representative may result in license renewal delays, as well as, fines, suspensions or even revocation of your retail alcohol beverage license.

Bag Tax

The bag tax applies to for certain bags provided by restaurants to their customers. This charge is made at the point of sale, pickup or delivery. The business retains 1 cent of each 5 cents for the bags they sell a customer. Use the Department of Finance  Bag Tax Registration and Payment System to remit the tax. Revenue from this charge are deposited into the County’s Water Quality Protection Charge (WQPC) fund to offset litter cleanup costs  
  • Review the information specific to restaurants under Retailers and the Bag Law on the Department of Environmental Protection web site. 

Additional Resources

Before you sign!

Careful planning before signing a lease can help avoid errors that could result in unexpected costs and delays.