Your Guide to Opening a New Restaurant

In an effort to streamline information regarding how to open a restaurant in Howard County, we are launching the “HoCo Restaurant Wizard.” This tool will enable potential restaurant owners to answer a few simple questions about the restaurant they are looking to start and be provided with a personalized plan regarding how to move forward through the county’s permitting process. This website also brings together information from the Department of Licenses and Permits, the Department of Planning and Zoning, and the Health Department regarding their respective permitting processes. Our hope is that this wizard and new webpage will help prospective restaurant owners find what permitting processes pertain to their specific situation, making for an easier process overall.

View HoCo Restaurant Wizard

Department Requirements

Department of Planning and Zoning

The Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) is the first stop when opening a new restaurant in Howard County. This department verifies that the property’s zoning allows the proposed restaurant and identifies the process needed to document a change of use and/or exterior site improvements. This occurs prior to applying for the necessary permits from the Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits. The required process is dependent on the location of the property, the existing use of the site, the extent of changes to the site, and current approved plans on file. DPZ processes any pre-submission requirements and reviews site development plans, alterations to existing site development plans (redlines), alternative compliance requests, and variances to site requirements.

Departmental Links:

  1. Site Development Plan Process