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Starting a Food Business in Los Angeles, California

Starting a food business, whether it is a restaurant, catering, home-based businesses, or food truck,  can be a great way for new entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry to participate in a multi-million dollar industry in California.  However, food-related businesses are one of the most regulated — requiring new business owners to obtain a variety of permits, licenses, and registrations in order to comply with the necessary rules and regulations.
Although nothing is a good substitute for professional legal advice,  here is an overview of some of the rules and regulations:

Business License – Business Tax Certificate. Required for all entities doing business in the unincorporated part of the County.

County of Los Angeles:
Treasurer and Tax Collector
225 N. Hill Street, Room 109
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
Phone: 213-974-2011 website


Business Personal Property
Property used in the operation of a business such as machinery, equipment, trade fixtures, etc. is taxable and subject to assessment. Business operations need to file a Business Property Statement annually with the Assessor declaring property on hand as of January 1 of each year. Generally those businesses with personal property and fixtures with a cost less that $100,000 are not required to file a property statement.

County of Los Angeles
Office of the Assessor
Business Personal Property Assessments
500 West Temple Street Room 225
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
Phone: 888-807-2111

Fictitious Business Name – Doing Business As Statement
A Fictitious Business Name (FBN) or Doing Business As (DBA) statement is required when the business name does not include the surname of the individual owner(s) and each of the partners; or the business name suggests the existence of additional owners; or the nature of the business in not clearly evident by the name of the business. For example Bill Smith and Sons Plumbing would require a FBN because the name implies additional owners, Bill Smith Plumbing does not require a FBN. Bill Smith Industries would require a FBN because it does not identify the nature of the business.

County of Los Angeles
Business Name Filing and Registration
12400 East Imperial Highway Room 1007
Norwalk, CA, 90650
Phone: 800-201-8999


Hazardous Materials/Waste Program

The CUPA/HMUPA agency/division is responsible for consolidation of 6 Program elements: Hazardous waste/generator treatment; Underground storage tanks; Hazardous Materials Release; Accidental Release Prevention; Above ground tank Spill Prevention; and Hazardous Material Management – for businesses handling, storing or generating hazardous materials.

County of Los Angeles
Fire Department Health Hazardous Materials
5825 Rickenbacker Rd Commerce, CA, 90040
Phone: 323-890-4045 Fax: 323-890-4046


Planning/Zoning/Land Use Permits
Required for activities in the unincorporated areas of the County. Also, Building/Construction permits required for all new and remodeling construction.

County of Los Angeles Regional Planning
320 Temple St., Suite 1360
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
Phone: 213-974-6411 Fax: 213-626-0434


 Public Health Operating License
Required of restaurants and businesses manufacturing food, ice or soft drinks.  Information on a Food Handlers Certification may also be obtained through this office. A permit is required for all businesses that wholesale food or beverage items to retail businesses.

County of Los Angeles Health Department/
Environmental Health Food & Milk Program
5050 Commerce Drive Baldwin Park, CA, 91706
Phone: 626-430-5200


Corporation, Company or Partnership Filings

If you are considering becoming a corporation, (either stock or nonprofit), a limited liability company or a partnership (limited, or limited liability), you must file with the Secretary of State’s Office. Also, if you are conducting business as one of the following, you must file a bond with the Secretary of State’s Office: immigration consultant, credit services organization, dance studio, discount buying organization, employment agency, employment counseling service, invention developer, job listing service, nurses registry, or auctioneer or auction company.

Secretary of State California Business Portal
1500 11th Street Sacramento, CA, 95814
Phone: 916-657-5448

Discrimination Law
Harassment or discrimination in employment is prohibited if it is based on a person’s race, ancestry, national origin, color, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, religion, physical disability (including AIDS), mental disability, marital status, medical condition (cured cancer), and refusal of family care leave. Discrimination in housing, public services and accommodations is also prohibited. Employers must post the Harassment or Discrimination in Employment notice (DFEH 162) and provide their employees with a copy of the DFEH’s information sheet on sexual harassment (DEFH 185) or a statement that contains equivalent information. Employers must also provide notice for an employee’s right to request pregnancy disability leave or transfer, as well as notice to request a family and medical care leave (CFRA). Employers with 5 or more employees must maintain all personnel records for a minimum of 2 years.

Department of Fair Employment and Housing
2218 Kausen Drive, Suite 100
Elk Grove, CA, 95758
Phone: 800-884-1684


Occupational Safety and Health Information
Businesses with employees must prepare an Injury and Illness Prevention Plan. The state provides a no-fee consultation service to assist employers with preventing unsafe working conditions and workplace hazards.

Cal/OSHA Consultation Services
320 West 4th Street, Room 850
Los Angeles, CA, 90013
Phone: 213-576-7451 Fax: 213-576-7461


Registration Form for Employers.
Required to file a registration form within 15 days after paying more than $100.00 in wages to one or more employees. No distinction is made between full-time and part-time or permanent and temporary employees in meeting this requirement.

Employment Development Department Employment
Tax Customer Service Office
P.O. Box 2068 Rancho Cordova, CA, 95741
Phone: 888-745-3886


Sales & Use Permit (Seller’s Permit)
All businesses selling or leasing tangible property must obtain a Seller’s Permit. For Additional information about RESALE CERTIFICATE go to this website:

State Board of Equalization Sales/Use Tax Division
PO Box 942879
Sacramento, CA, 94279
Phone: 800-400-7115


State Income Tax Information. Businesses should obtain the appropriate State income tax forms from the Franchise Tax Board. All businesses are required to submit a Business Income Tax statement annually.

Franchise Tax Board
Business Entities Division
PO Box 1468
Sacramento, CA, 95812
Phone: 800-338-0505


Wage/Hour Laws
Businesses with employees must comply with laws establishing minimum standards for wages, hours and working conditions.

Department of Industrial Relations Labor Standards Enforcement
455 Golden Gate Avenue, 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA, 94102
Phone: 415-703-4810

Workers’ Compensation Information
Businesses with employees must maintain Workers’ Compensation Insurance coverage on either a self-insured basis, or provided through a commercial carrier, or the State Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fund.

Department of Industrial Relations D
ivision of Workers’ Compensation
320 W. 4th Street, 9th Floor Los Angeles, CA,
90013 Phone: 213-576-7335


Employer Identification Number (EIN or SSN)
Employers with employees, business partnerships, and corporations, must obtain an Employer Identification Number from the I.R.S. Businesses can obtain appropriate Federal income tax forms from this location. EIN Application Form (SS-4) can be obtained from local IRS or Social Security Offices. The San Fernando Valley IRS office is located at the Federal Building, 6230 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys (1st Floor)

U.S. Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service
300 N. Los Angeles Street Los Angeles, CA, 90012
Phone: 800-829-1040


Proof of Residency Requirements
Employees hired after November 6, 1986 must provide proof of eligibility to work in the United States. The INS will provide employers the requirements for establishing proof of residency of employees.

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
Los Angeles County Field Office
300 North Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
Phone: 800-375-5283



Getting Legal Help

AXIS Legal Counsel’s Business and Corporations Practice provides legal advice to numerous businesses with a wide range of business matters. Axis  represent small, medium-sized, and large business clients with a wide variety of business and corporate law matters. We represent early-stage companies as well as established businesses on a wide variety of business law matters, ranging from contracts and transactions, intellectual property, labor/employment law, business financing, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, insurance, business succession planning, and general advice and counsel.  For information on retaining AXIS Legal Counsel to represent your business in connection with any legal matter, contact [email protected] or call (213) 403-0100 for a confidential consultation.


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