If you have plans to open a restaurant or dream of starting a food-related business, Montgomery County has two new resources for you.
First, the Department of Permitting Services has launched a program called “Recipes for Success” that is aimed at assisting aspiring restaurateurs to navigate the County’s permitting system. To open a restaurant in Montgomery County, permits or inspections may be required from multiple county agencies, an this program is aimed at greater coordination and consultation between the restaurant owner and all the agencies at one time. The County has also published a packet of materials and information to help guide the permitting process, touting the promise that “Montgomery County Welcomes Restaurant Businesses.” For those that have found the County inhospitable to bars and restaurants in the past, this should be welcome news and, at a minimum, a step in the right direction. (Perhaps even better would be if the County could do what New York State is trying on an experimental basis — to allow restaurant owners to submit a single “universal application” for all required permits.)
The other bit of welcome news is that the County is supporting a food industry incubator project similar to Union Kitchen and the forthcoming Mess Hall in Washington, DC. The incubator project, which will be based at the Universities at Shady Grove, is intended to provide workspace, equipment, and training to culinary startups who may lack the necessary funding or experience. From where we sit, anything that helps entrepreneurs — particularly food and drink entrepreneurs — get started is a great move by the County.