How to Open a Bar in Chicago

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A chicago bar requires an Illinois and a city liquor license.
A chicago bar requires an Illinois and a city liquor license. (Image: chicago 1 image by Blu-Mu from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Opening a bar in Chicago requires planning, organization and funding. New bar owners will be required to obtain a number of licenses including a state liquor license. If a bar owner intends to sell food, the bar must comply with food service and health regulations. When opening a bar in Chicago, research is vital. The city of Chicago recommends that business owners contact the Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection to discuss the license application requirements.

Write a business plan and get financing. A business plan will help new businesses determine their costs and uncover areas not considered. Once a business plan has been completed, apply for business loans and grants. The city of Chicago offers help in creating a business plan and assistance in finding financing through the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection’s Business Assistance Centers.

Choose a location. Bar owners must consider the surrounding neighborhood area. Once the business files for a Chicago liquor license, the city will notify every registered voter within 250 feet of the bar. In addition, the city has restrictions on the sale of liquor in certain areas. These areas include anywhere that is within 100 feet of a school, church, day-care facility, nursing home or library or a “dry precinct” where voters have decided to prohibit the sale of liquor.

File for Tax identification numbers and other Illinois business requirements. Contact the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation (IDPR) to determine the current requirements for liquor and business licenses in Illinois. To apply for an Illinois liquor license a bar must have an Illinois Business Tax Number(IBT) and a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Get business insurance. Chicago and Illinois both require proof of business insurance as part of the liquor-license application. Contact an insurance agent who specializes in business insurance to obtain the needed coverage.

Apply for a Chicago liquor license, business license and building permits. The best place to start when applying for building permits and Chicago liquor licenses is the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). A BACP consultant can determine the licensing needs of the bar and if there are restrictions in the planned area of business. The BACP consultants mentor new businesses through the application process. In addition, as of June 9, 2010, the city has passed changes to the liquor laws, allowing for conditional approval on certain types of liquor licenses.

Apply for an Illinois Liquor License. The Illinois Licensing Division is responsible for reviewing and approving state liquor applications. Make sure the business has its IBT and FIEN tax numbers, a copy of the Chicago liquor license, a copy the Chicago business license and a certificate of insurance.

Prepare the Bar for opening. The timing for getting the bar prepared for opening depends upon the business model chosen. If a business plan has been completed, the process for getting building permits, choosing vendors, and hiring contractors has already been decided. Bars with kitchens will take longer to build and bars will need food licenses and health permits. Errors in applications for licenses can cause delays. To avoid stress and monetary short falls, bar owners should factor in funding to allow for budgetary overruns and time delays when creating their business plan.

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