Pop-Up Shops How Restaurant Owners Can Sell Groceries In The “Stay At Home” Era

September 26, 2023

Pop-Up Shops How Restaurant Owners Can Sell Groceries In The “Stay At Home” Era

Due to COVID-19, restaurant operators across the country have ceased dine-in services and grocery stores are stressed with product offerings.

“Pop Up Shops” are the alternative, temporary business model during the coronavirus pandemic to bring in customers safely to purchase the essential grocery items that they need for their families. For customers, it is an opportunity to grab a few necessities without needing to brave a crowded store. For restaurants, it is a source of much-needed cash during the coronavirus epidemic.

California State Seller’s Permits

To start, you must first obtain a Seller’s Permit. It will enable you to collect and pay sales tax for the items that you sell, and is required from both wholesalers and retailers. If you only plan to make sales during short periods, less than 90 days in one location, such as a pop-up shop or seasonal event, you may apply for a temporary seller’s permit. Regardless of the duration, a seller’s permit is needed to sell alcohol and groceries at retail.

To register for your Seller’s Permit, you can use California Department of Tax and Fee Administration online registration tool or apply in person at one of their field offices. The online tool can also be used to add a new business location to an existing account. In order to complete your registration, you will need:

(i) Your social security number (corporate officers excluded)

(ii) Your date of birth

(iii) Your driver license number, state ID number, or other ID

(iv) Incorporation date, corporate number, and Employer Identification Number

(v) The name and location of a bank where you have an account

(vi) Names and addresses of suppliers

(vii) Name of the person maintaining your account

(viii) Names and addresses of personal references

(ix) Anticipated average monthly sales and the amount of those sales which are taxable

(x) Your email address

Los Angeles City and County Local License Requirements

Zoning, building, and health and safety permits are governed by Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County. For example, the County determines, based on the location of your business, what types of businesses can operate. Unlike alcohol, health permits are often issued by the county rather than a state agency. If you’re opening up a cafe, restaurant, or food truck, you must obtain a public health permit in order to sell anything besides fresh produce.

To do so, the pop up shop must comply with various city departments:

  • Health: Health department checks are required for all food businesses. This means overhead exhausts, grease trap interceptors, and equipment cut sheets need to be checked by the city or county. For pop up shops, this means, for example, fresh produce must be a certain distance away from restaurant devices for disposing restaurant waste.
  • Fire: Fire prevention checks required by the building department is the same as for pop up shops, and if the space is small enough sometimes the building plan checker can review. However, some cities may still require the fire marshal to review and approve the plans.
  • Bureau of Engineering: Departments of sanitation, industrial waste, engineering, and others fall under the Bureau of Engineering. For example, if you are serving alcohol two bathrooms will be required which means a BOE check.

Hire An Attorney!

The devil is always in the details. Unfortunately, many good-intentioned restaurant owners started selling groceries, only to be shut down by governmental authorities for lack of compliance. Many so-called permit consultants and service providers have sprung up with promises to expedite this process for you. But at the end of the day, compliance with these requirements is a question of law and fact. Nobody is better equipped to navigate them than attorneys.

At Shenon Law, we are able to complete this process from start to finish. Our experienced team of business attorneys carefully evaluate the specifics of your individual case to reach the most efficient outcome possible. We are equipped with the latest technology for virtual meetings, electronic signing of documents, and submission to governmental authorities.

You have enough to worry about. Let us take care of the details.