Open a restaurant, cafe or food business

Find out which Council permissions you might need to open a restaurant, cafe or other food business.

1. Setting up your space

Renovating or building a food space is different to working on a house – as well as getting any necessary resource or building consents, you must also meet specific requirements to make sure the food you sell is safe to eat.

Under the Food Act, the design of your space needs to do things like:

  • exclude dirt, dust, smoke, pests and other contaminants as much as possible
  • have enough room for customers, and for people preparing or serving food to move around easily
  • allow access for cleaning and maintenance
  • minimise any food safety risks from the previous use of the building or from activities nearby that could cause food contamination
  • use materials that are easy to clean and won't contaminate the food (for example, by leaching chemicals).

Resource consent

You'll need a resource consent if your project does not comply with the rules of the District Plan.

To find out if you need a resource consent, you can:

Note: If you need a resource consent, you should get it before you apply for any other consents or permissions.

Resource consents

Building consent

You'll need a building consent for all work that affects the structure of a building, and all plumbing or drainage work other than simple repairs.

Building work that does not require a building consent – Building Performance

Building consents

2. Applying for licences and other permissions

You'll need a food registration certificate and an alcohol licence (if you want to sell alcohol) before you can begin trading.

Alcohol licence

You will need an alcohol licence if you will be selling or supplying alcohol.

A certificated manager must also be on the premises at all times when alcohol is being sold and supplied to the public.

Find the right alcohol licence and apply

Meet with an alcohol licensing inspector

Food registration certificate

You will need to apply for a food registration certificate to sell food in Wellington City. To get a food registration certificate:

  • your premises needs to be located, designed and constructed to prepare and/or sell food safely
  • you will need to operate under a food control plan or national programme, and have your business verified.

Applying for a food registration certificate

Trade waste

If your food business will produce more liquid waste than a large household would, or you will need to dispose of oil down the drain, you need to speak to a Council Trade Waste Officer.

You may need a trade waste consent or may be required to install a grease trap.

Trade waste

Pavement permission

You need to apply for pavement permission from the Council if you want to use a footpath to provide outdoor seating for customers.

If you want to serve alcohol in that area, you will need to apply for an alcohol licence for the area separately.

Outdoor seating