How to Start a Mobile Unit Food Business in Miami

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One of the most popular types of food service businesses is a mobile unit food business, or mobile caterer. What better place to operate a mobile caterer than Miami Beach. Several tasks must be completed, however, before you can open for business. This article will walk you through those tasks step-by-step.

Things You'll Need

  • Florida incorporation or formation document IRS Form SS-4 Application for Employer Identification Number State and local licenses and permits Caterer cart and equipment
  • Decide upon the legal structure of your business. Do you want to operate as a sole proprietor, corporation, limited liability company, or partnership? Contact the Florida Department of State for details and forms for each entity type.

  • Apply for a federal taxpayer identification number through the Internal Revenue Service, and register as a sales and use tax dealer with the State of Florida before beginning business operations. A Mobile Caterer Application must also be filed with the Department of State.

  • Obtain the appropriate local city and county licenses to operate the business. In addition to a City of Miami Beach Certificate of Use, an Occupational License is required by the Miami-Dade County Code.

  • Be aware that all businesses that serve food to the public must be in compliance with the regulations of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and Florida Department of Health. Contact each of these agencies for complete details about their requirements.

  • Know that whether you plan to operate your business with you as the sole employee, or if you decide to hire employees to assist you, there are certain regulations to follow regarding employment taxes and workers' compensation insurance. Contact the Florida Department of State for details and appropriate forms to file.

  • Consider that the equipment you need to purchase depends upon the type of food you plan to serve and where you intend to sell. If you decide to run a route with a mobile kitchen, a catering truck would be appropriate. It you prefer sidewalk vending, then a street cart or kiosk would be what you are looking for. There are several online dealers from whom you can purchase this equipment, one of which is listed in the Resources section of this article.

Tips & Warnings

  • Seek the advice of an attorney or accounting professional to determine which business structure is appropriate for your situation and to assist with the proper formation of the entity.
  • Promoting your business is vital to its success. Be aware that the Division of Code Compliance prohibits the distribution of flyers, posters or other forms of advertisement on vehicles, bus benches and other public property. Violators will be subject to fines and penalties.
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