Opening a restaurant or cafe

If you would like to set up your own restaurant or cafe business in Brisbane, use this page to find out if your business needs planning approval.


A restaurant or cafe is referred to in Brisbane City Plan 2014 (City Plan) as a food and drink outlet. City Plan defines a 'food and drink outlet' as the 'use of a premises for preparation and sale of food and drink to the public for consumption on or off site'. The use may include the ancillary sale of liquor for consumption on site. Examples include:

  • bistro
  • cafe
  • coffee shop
  • drive-through facility
  • kiosk
  • milk bar
  • restaurant
  • snack bar
  • takeaway
  • tea room.

The definition does not include bar, club, entertainment facility, hotel, shop, theatre or nightclub.

Preferred locations

Centre zones

Centre zones include:

In the Centre zones, a food and drink outlet is included in the Centre activities group. Centre activities are accepted development where they do not include an increase to the gross floor area (GFA) and they comply with all of the acceptable outcomes (Section A) in the Centre or mixed use code.

You can use the online self-assessable checklist to see if your proposal meets the accepted development criteria in the Centre or mixed use Code.

Commercial character building

On properties identified on the Commercial character building overlay map, a food and drink outlet is accepted development, subject to compliance with identified requirements, where:

Planning approval

To find out if your proposal requires Council approval, you can phone Council on 07 3403 8888 to speak to a Town Planner. 

If the nature of your business changes over time (e.g. you change the way you operate), you may need to reconfirm whether a development approval is required as a result of these changes.

Building approval

Building approval is separate from planning approval. Licensed private building certifiers or building consultants can provide advice regarding:

  • building work for an existing food and drink outlet or a new food and drink outlet
  • if any building approval is required.

Private building certifiers and building consultants can be found using the Queensland Building and Construction Commission's website.

Other considerations

Undercover parking in commercial buildings

City Plan's definition of gross floor area (GFA) does not include areas for building services, plant and equipment, access between levels and the parking, loading or manoeuvring of motor vehicles. Where undercover parking areas are proposed as part of a new commercial building, undercover parking is not included in GFA.

New food and drink outlets in service stations

When a fast food store is added to an existing service station, an approval is necessary as the proposal involves a material change of use (a new use or a material increase in the intensity or scale of the use of the premises).

Other approvals to consider

More information

If your proposed business requires a planning approval, or your premises are located within a neighbourhood plan area or overlay area, contact Council's Business Hotline on 133 BNE (133 263) for advice specific to your situation.

If you wish to find out more, you may wish to read the fact sheets below:

Last updated:

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