How to Start a Restaurant/Cafeteria Business in Dubai


An interesting mix of various culinary cultures, a diverse population comprising over 200 nationalities are among the top reasons that prompt businessmen across the world to set up a restaurant business in Dubai. Restaurants are a lucrative business in Dubai as revenue can be generated from food lovers belonging to different segments including locals, residents, and tourists. Having a solid restaurant business in a dynamic tourism hotspot like Dubai is sure to lead the entrepreneurs to the path of sustainable development and robust growth opportunities.

Dubai’s food and beverage sector are continuously evolving and it is capable of transforming itself as per the latest culinary trends. Dubai’s food scene is an interesting mix of a variety of tastes, trends and food traditions, making major food industry players set up their business here. In the last 5 years, there has been an immense increase in the number of restaurants opened in Dubai. Businessmen from India, Pakistan, and Egypt have been leading in opening restaurant businesses in Dubai. Entrepreneurs who seek to open a profitable restaurant business are recommended to complete the incorporation procedures through the best business setup consultants in Dubai, UAE.

The Process of Opening a Restaurant/Cafeteria in Dubai

For opening a restaurant in Dubai mainland, the entrepreneurs need to obtain a license from the Dubai Economic Development (DED) first. The restaurant business setup can be achieved in the following simple steps:

  • Select a Trade Name
  • Choose a local sponsor
  • Get interior done for the Restaurant as per the standards of the Food and Safety Department. Follow the department standards in case of renting the commercial space
  • Obtain tenancy contract and the Ejari for the rented space
  • Submit all the documents to the Department of Economic Development (DED)
  • Obtain NOC from the Food Safety Department and approval from the Dubai Municipality

The process of opening a restaurant in Dubai may appear easy from the above steps but it is not. A set of permissions and approvals need to be obtained for setting up a restaurant business in Dubai. The businessmen can avail of the services of the best business setup consultants in Dubai to complete the process with ease and in compliance with regulations.

Requirements for Opening a Restaurant in Dubai

1. Trade License

All food establishments in Dubai must have a valid trade license from the Dubai Economic Development (DED). The DED will issue a commercial license pertaining to the activity of Restaurant and Coffee Shops. The restaurant activity comes under the professional category hence foreign nationals can own 100% of the restaurant business in the mainland and UAE nationals (sponsor) will be legal service agents unlike 51% shareholders in LLC.

2. Food License

After obtaining the commercial license for opening a restaurant from the DED, the business owners are required to attain a food license from the Food Safety Department. The approval from the Department is subject to the restaurant entity’s compliance with the Food Code standards.

3. Follow The Food Code

Dubai insists on higher standards of food safety before issuing approval for restaurant businesses. The Dubai Municipality has established a Food Code, which provides a set of guidelines for food establishments including restaurants to comply with the standard food regulations. The Food Code requires restaurants to adopt good practices and achieve the best standards of food safety. The Food Code aims to protect the interests of consumers by safeguarding their health and life.

4. Approval from the Food Control Department for Construction

The restaurant owners should submit a layout for new construction or renovations which should comply with the regulations approved by the Food Control Department. It should be noted that the business owners should not carry out major alterations to the existing building that may affect the layout without prior permission from the Food Control Department.

a) Submission of Layout

The applicant should submit the layout of the restaurant for approval to the Food Control Department prior to construction/ renovation/ reconstruction. The layout should contain details including,

  • Area and space allocated to cooking, cleaning, food storage, and seating
  • Sanitary fitments, open spaces, restrooms, storage areas
  • Windows and mechanical ventilating systems
  • Layout of equipment
  • Details of exit and entry
  • Provisions to carry out pot and dishwashing, hand washing

b) Requirements for Sites, Location

The business owners of the proposed restaurants are required to choose locations that are far enough apart from waste disposal facilities and incompatible processing facilities so there is no risk of contamination. Generally, a minimum distance of 30 meters should be kept from sources of contamination.

5. Special Requirements and Permits

Apart from the above-mentioned approvals, the restaurants need to obtain special permits for specific requirements. A vehicle permit is needed for transportation of food items, while a food truck license must be obtained for operating as a food truck business. A special permit is also needed for handling and serving pork.

Note: An entrepreneur can not open a restaurant directly in Dubai free zones, the only branch of the restaurant can be opened in the free zone.

Consult Business Setup Consultants in Dubai

Dubai is a haven for entrepreneurs wishing to invest in the food business. However, due to the higher standards set by the Dubai government to ensure the safety of consumers, a slew of approvals are required to open a restaurant in Dubai. Understanding the right standards required to comply with the regulation is a prerequisite while investing in a food business in Dubai. This is where a reputed business setup service provider like Jitendra Business Consultants (JBC) becomes indispensable for entrepreneurs.

The JBC has years of experience in providing valuable insights into company formation to entrepreneurs from a variety of industries including food and beverage. JBC’s business setup consultants are well-versed in the local laws and regulations which would ease the process of company formation in Dubai for the investors. JBC would help the investors with all the paper works, and act on the client’s behalf for securing the permissions and approvals from the concerned departments. JBC guarantees quick and efficient business set-up procedures for all the investors who are ready to open their businesses in Dubai, the land of infinite opportunities.

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