Legal considerations when opening a bar or restaurant

To start and run a successful restaurant you must understand many different legal considerations which make operating a restaurant in Houston, particularly unique. Whether you are a new or existing restaurant owner, talking with a lawyer will help you gain a deeper understanding of all of the basic requirements to get your business up and running.

Lawyers who practice in the restaurant industry provide comprehensive counsel to restaurant companies and their owners, operators, managers, landlords, tenants, franchisors and lenders.

Forming a Corporation or Limited Liability Company (pros/cons of each)

Partnership Considerations (The legalities of dealing with your business partners and investors)

Finding your restaurant space (Buying an existing restaurant vs. straight lease)

Negotiating your Restaurant’s lease

Applying for a Liquor License

General discussion on permits needed (food service/cabaret/sidewalk café, etc.)


Most restaurants have employees and, in many cases, there can be relatively frequent turnover, particularly among waitstaff, bussers, and similar positions. There is also a high risk of injury to cook staff using doing routine kitchen procedures. You should inform yourself about basic employment law issues such as illegal discrimination, workers compensation, and how to handle the hiring process. With regard to hiring in particular, learn how to:

  • create a useful job application that does not include illegal questions
  • legal considerations of  hiring an undocumented worker
  • check references or make other pre-employment inquiries — again without violating privacy laws or otherwise seeking illegal information, and
  • ask interview questions that are both useful and legally permissible.

Keep in mind that there are some employment laws that are specifically relevant to restaurants, such as minimum wages for tipped employees.

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