Start-up businesses

Operating independently in the hospitality industry

Five-star cuisine or a food stand, hotel or hostel, serving alcohol or just meals and alcohol-free drinks? What do you need to keep in mind when founding a new business in the restaurant trade? Here is a checklist.

Checklist for independence in restaurants

With the following checklist, we want to help you prepare as best possible for founding your food service business. Of course this checklist cannot be exhaustive, but it is intended to provide an overview of the requirements that need to be met.
You should note the following points and information in your planning:
1. Which sector of the food service industry are you planning to operate in independently?
Restaurant, bistro, bar, food stand that also serves alcohol, mobile kiosk or food truckcatering, etc.
2. Do you meet the personal requirements?
To be able to operate a restaurant or hotel business, you should ask whether you as a person meet the following requirements:
  • Health
  • Decisiveness
  • Openness to risk
  • Assertiveness
  • Support by family
  • Positive charisma
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Resilience
3. Do you have sufficient commercial and industry expertise?
Tip: Hamburg Chamber of Commerce offers regular training in accordance with Section 4 of the Food Hygiene Regulation. Register for the next workshop here.
And do you also know the other regulations that may apply to you, such as the obligation to instruction in accordance with Section 43 Infection Protection Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz)HACCPHamburg Building Regulations (Hamburgische Bauordnung)the parking space obligation, youth protection law, shop opening timesfire prevention specifications, and display of prices? And have you also thought about space-related worker protection requirements for food service and hospitality businesses?
5. Have you found a suitable location for your food service business?
Success in hotel and hospitality businesses depends very much on the location. Your business concept stands and falls with your choice of location. The location checklist will help you choose a suitable place.
6. Do you have questions on contract law, such as sales of goods law, consumer protection or general terms and conditions of business?
If there is a possibility of special use, e.g. for outdoor food service, have you found out about the competitive situation and also if applicable about any structural changes on-site?
It is always also recommended that you find out about the suitability of the business premises from your district office. It is possible for the responsible employee to perform an inspection/review of the business premises. A check as to whether a grease separator is necessary (PDF-Datei · 73 KB) is also advisable.
7. Is the company being founded in the form of a takeover, or is it a new company that is being founded?
If you want to take over a business, then before you take over the restaurant, cafe, hostel or hotel, a thorough review is needed. Our checklist for successors will help you ask the right questions.
8. What legal form is intended for the company?
Have you already thought about the right legal form and do you know about liability? We provide an overview in the article “Which legal form is most appropriate for you?”. If you are founding a company outside Germany, you can find information on legal forms in the article “International business forms and their liability”.
9. Is the company being founded with multiple people?
You are welcome to access template articles of association in our Commercial Library.
10. Are you familiar with the reporting obligations for GEMA (Society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights)?
Every business that makes music accessible to the public must acquire a licence from GEMA. An explanation of why this is and what music you as a trade professional must register are provided in the “GEMA” article. We also provide brief information on GEZ (ARD, ZDF und Deutschlandradio fee service) and VG Media (Corint Media).
11. Are you familiar with statutory accident insurance?
The employers’ liability insurance association’s statutory accident insurance is the employer’s liability insurance. As an entrepreneur, you are in principle required to take out insurance. Where this is not mandatory in individual cases, voluntary insurance is recommended. We have provided further information in the document titled “Unfallversicherung der Berufsgenossenschaft” (Accident insurance from the employers’ liability insurance association).
 12. Is financing in place or are external funds required?
Capital requirement analysis
  • Costs for private living expenses
  • Purchase price
  • Instalments in the case of takeover
  • Renovation
  • New investments
  • Deposit
  • Initial stocking
  • Formation costs
  • Operational costs and opening advertising
Tip: You are also very welcome to use our Business Workshop for your financial planning. The web-based financial planner provided there is a great tool to help you develop your section on figures.
If you need external financing of more than €50k, we recommend our financing consulting day.
13. Are you and your business sufficiently insured?
As a founder, in asserting your independence you give up the social security of an employment contract and take on many risks. Sufficient hedging by means of insurance is therefore part of any well-considered startup. We have provided the most important information in the article “Wie versichere ich mich und meinen Betrieb zusammengestellt?” (How do I insure myself and my business together?).
14. Are you familiar with tax law?
The subject of taxes is relevant to all self-employed people. We provide an overview of the most important taxes in the document “Steuern beachten” (Taking account of taxes). Generally, however, it is recommend that you consult a tax advisor and/or find out information from your relevant tax office. 
15. Will you appoint staff in the founding phase of the new company?
Would you like to employ qualified and motivated staff soon? In the document “Wichtige Aspekte der Personaleinstellung” (Important aspects of appointing staff), we explain what you need to bear in mind when planning your required personnel, looking for staff, implementing the employment contract, and calculating the labour and payroll costs.
Requirements for a hospitality business licence
Anyone who wishes to serve alcohol in their hotel or hospitality business requires a hospitality licence to do so (with the exception of hotels in which alcohol is served only to residential guests).
You should apply to your consumer protection office for the approval (licence) necessary for serving alcohol. Only once you have this approval and the additionally required trade registration certificate are you permitted to start commercial activity.
Note: Irrespective of the hospitality licence, everyone who comes into contact with foodstuffs (entrepreneurs and employees) must participate in initial instruction in accordance with the Infection Protection Act (IfSG).
In addition, every entrepreneur who processes foodstuffs and brings them into circulation must, regardless of the licensing requirement, prove in accordance with Section 4 Food Hygiene Regulation (Lebensmittelhygiene-Verordnung (LMHV)) that they have the corresponding specialist knowledge. We offer regular workshops in this respect, in which we straightforwardly and practically inform you of how to implement the legal requirements. 
To receive a hospitality licence, you must prove the following:
  • Your personal and
  • your technical suitability
  • certain property-related requirements.
How do you prove that these requirements are met?
You need the following certificates to prove your personal suitability:
  • An extract from the Federal Central Criminal Register (Bundeszentralregister) (“police clearance certificate” (Polizeiliches Führungszeugnis)), that you can obtain from your responsible local residents’ registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt).
  • An extract from the Central Trade Register (Gewerbezentralregister), which your consumer protection office (Verbraucherschutzamt) issues.
  • A certificate of good standing (Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung) from your tax office (Finanzamt). This certificate confirms that there are no liabilities, such as from previous self-employment.
  • Proof of participation in initial instruction in accordance with the Infection Protection Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz (IfSG)). This initial instruction is performed by the public health authority or a physician commissioned by it. The instruction must not take place more than three months prior to the start of the activity.
The proof of technical suitability is generally provided by means of participation in instruction in accordance with Section 4 Hospitality Business Act (Gaststättengesetz). Further information on this is provided in our factsheet “Unterrichtung im Gaststättengewerbe” (Instruction in hospitality businesses).
You should attach the following documents to your licence application in order to prove property-related requirements:
  • Your rental, lease or purchase contract and
  • proof that your premises are suitable for the hotel and hospitality industry (if applicable by means of construction drawings / floorplans of all business premises including sanitary rooms)
Note: If you are taking over an existing business, the public authority may issue a three-month provisional license.

Event information

Training obligations in accordance with the Food Hygiene Regulation (Lebensmittel-Hygiene-Verordnung) – workshop registration