Cafe, restaurant or takeaway

If you are opening a cafe, restaurant, takeaway or similar food business in a fixed location, you may require a licence.

When you need a licence

As a general guide, any cafe, restaurant, takeaway or similar food business in a fixed location that prepares or handles unpackaged food for retail sale needs a licence.

Examples of food that are unpackaged or handled that require a licence include:

  • cut fruit or vegetables
  • fruit or vegetable juice processed at the place of sale
  • sausage sizzle or barbecue
  • cakes or biscuits with dairy fillings or icings
  • unpackaged takeaway foods such as hamburgers, hot dogs, pizzas, hot chips or curry
  • unpackaged cooked pasta or lasagne
  • unpackaged yoghurt
  • any other unpackaged food, unless included in the exemptions.

For example, a cafe selling coffee and tea will need a food business licence if it also serves toast.

If you are a non-profit organisation, different rules may apply.

When a licence is not needed

As a general guide, you do not need a licence for a cafe, restaurant, takeaway or similar food business in a fixed location if:

  • you only handle packaged food
  • you only sell unpackaged snack food, including:
    • croissants, friands, doughnuts, muffins, churros, biscuits or cakes without dairy fillings or dairy icings
    • carob, chocolates, chocolate bars, confectionery or muesli bars
    • dried vegetable chips, corn chips, potato chips or nuts
    • pretzels, puffed rice, soy chips or toasted corn
    • meat jerky, dried or glazed fruit
  • you only sell whole fruit or vegetables
  • the only preparation carried out involves the grinding of coffee beans
  • you only sell the following, unless it forms a potentially hazardous food:
    • whole, crushed, puffed or toasted nuts, grains and seeds
    • quinoa, spices, dried herbs, tea leaves, coffee beans, cereals or cocoa
    • coconut, couscous, edible oil, flour, legumes, lentils, noodles, oats or pasta
    • preparations for spreading on bread such as honey, peanut butter, hazelnut spread, vegemite, marmalade and jam
    • sugar and syrups such as golden syrup, maple syrup, rice syrup, malt syrup, glucose syrup and coconut syrup
  • you only sell drinks (other than fruit or vegetable juice processed at the place of sale), including:
    • tea or coffee
    • soft drinks
    • alcoholic drinks (you may still require a liquor licence from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation)
  • you only sell ice or flavoured ice, for example:
    • shaved ice or snow cones
    • slurpees.

For example, a cafe selling coffee and tea does not need a food business licence if it only serves pre-packaged cookies.

Fees

As a general guide, for a new cafe, restaurant, takeaway or similar food business in a fixed location, the following fees may apply for the 2020-21 financial year.

Small business fee reduction

If you run a small business, you may be eligible for a small business fee reduction.

Size of premises Design application Small business fee reduction Food licence Small business fee reduction
Less than 250 square metres $390.35 100% $789.55 50% for new applications
10% for renewals
250-1000 square metres $638.50 100% $1078.45 50% for new applications
10% for renewals
More than 1000 square metres $846.90 100% $3370 50% for new applications
10% for renewals

These fees do not attract GST.

If you require a food safety program for your business, an additional fee will apply.

How to apply

Before submitting an application, review helpful hints about preparing an application and common application problems to avoid.

Submit your application using the Application for food business approvals online form.

Council has introduced a free advisory service for new and existing businesses. Contact Council for more information. The advisory service allows you to speak with one of Council’s Environment Health Officers to provide advice on meeting the requirements of the food safety standards and ensure any future application is properly made. To book a meeting with a Council Environmental Health Officer, please contact Council’s Business Hotline on 133 BNE (133 263).

Stage 1: Design assessment

Application for design assessment

It is strongly recommended that businesses submit a design assessment however this is not mandatory. The assessment of the structural fit-out will be undertaken at the food business licence assessment stage.

Food businesses may still choose to apply for a design assessment to ensure your kitchen design complies with the food standards code prior to construction, prevent delays with the processing of your food business licence application and reduce the potential for costly re-work . Please note, incomplete or defective food business fit-outs will not be approved. 

To lodge your application, ensure you:

Stage 2: Food business licence assessment

Application for food business licence assessment

For small business with up to 19 employees with a proposed kitchen area of less than 250m2, suitably made food business licence applications will be decided within 3 business days. For all other food business licence applications, properly made applications will be decided within 10 business days.

Lodge your food business licence using the Application for food business approvals online form.

Before you open for business, Council's Environmental Health Officer will conduct a final site inspection.

Council will issue you with a food business licence when the completed fit-out has been approved.

Food safety program accreditation

You do not need a food safety program accreditation for a cafe, restaurant or takeaway. However, if you are planning to run catering as a part of business, submit the Application for food business approvals online form to apply for the Food Safety Program Accreditation at the same time you lodge your food licence application.

Find out more about food safety programs.

Food safety supervisor notification

All licensable food businesses in Queensland must have a food safety supervisor. You must notify Council of your food safety supervisor within 30 days of the food business licence issue date. The licensee can notify Council:

Find out more about food safety supervisors.

Preparing for Council inspection

Before you start trading, Council's Environmental Health Officer will conduct a final inspection. This is to ensure the construction of the food premises is in accordance with the Food Safety Standards. To arrange your final inspection, contact Council approximately one week before construction is due to finish.

To limit delays, use the New Food Business Final Inspection Checklist or the Taking Over an Existing Business Inspection Checklist to confirm that essential works are complete before the date of your final inspection.

Other approvals

You may need to consider planning approval for restaurants.

The Food business checklist (Word - 110kb) will help you consider approvals you may need to start and operate a food business in a fixed location.

Application assessment

Prior to issuing the food business licence, Council will conduct a full Eat Safe audit of the premises. Find out more information about Eat Safe Brisbane.

Potentially hazardous food

You must store potentially hazardous food below 5 degrees celsius or above 60 degrees celsius to minimise the growth of bacteria in the food.

Examples of potentially hazardous food include:

  • raw and cooked meat or foods containing meat, such as casseroles, curries and lasagne
  • dairy products (e.g. milk, custard, dairy-based desserts)
  • seafood (excluding live seafood)
  • processed fruits and vegetables (e.g. salads)
  • cooked rice and pasta
  • foods containing eggs, beans, nuts or other protein rich foods, such as quiche and soy products
  • foods that contain these foods such as sandwiches and rolls.

More information

The Local Government Toolbox provides helpful tools and resources.

For more information, phone Council's Business Hotline on 133 BNE (133 263), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Last updated:1 July 2020