When I was writing a business plan in the spring I struggled with estimating the cost of the project.  I had no idea how much it would cost to hire an architect or how much the building permit would cost.  I couldn’t even guess, I was so clueless.  Now that we’re deep into paying people without any incoming cash, I can tell you that it adds up to a lot of money.

Let’s outline our expenses:

Lawyer- helped chose a business model, negotiated our lease



Graphic Designers


General Contractor (who pays sub contractors)

Lots of Equipment




POS system



The grease trap problem is at bay but another saga is unfolding: the never-ending application for a liquor license.  The application contains many requirements and forms from many separate official offices.  It is the mother of all permits.  


– a vaild Maryland Driver’s License

– a complete set of fingerprint cards for each applicant (business owner), one for the state of Maryland and one for the FBI, a check for $10 to process each applicant’s 2 fingerprint records

– three copies plus original of completed application and attachments #1 and #2

attachment #1- a form to be completed by the property owner acknowledging the business owners intent to sell alcoholic beverages, must be notarized

attachment #2- signatures from at least 10 people approving our intention to sell alcoholic beverages, each person must own property in and vote in the same District and Precinct as the location of the store  

– certificate for Alcohol Awareness Training

– Health Department Permit

– proof of Compliance from the State Fire Marshall

– certificate from County or Municipalities Office of Planning and Zoning

– complete list of all property owners as defined in 11-9 of the Talbot County Code (properties w/in 1000 ft of the business)

– copy of current Trader/Business License, issued by the state



This means that an applicant must be in contact with:

– state police department (fingerprinting)

– property owner and a notary (attachment 1)

– ten immediate locals (attachment 2)

– the board of elections (to verify that they are in fact, registered to vote in the district and precinct they say they are)

– the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) to obtain Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAM) certification

– the Health Department (permit)

– State Fire Marshall (compliance permit)

– Town Office of Planning and Zoning (a certificate confirming that you are not within 1000 feet of a church, a school or a park; no small feat in a town like Easton)

– State Comptroller for a Business License

– Talbot County Office for a Trader’s License 


Did I mention the $156.00 fee for advertising you application in the newspaper, the $200.00 application fee and the $2000.00 annual fee?

Biggest current problem: the number one bullet on the checklist is something that I do not have!  I do not have a valid Maryland Driver’s License!  I just moved to Maryland two months ago, I still have my Virginia driver’s license.  To quote Tina Fey, BLURG!!

Our store is not making headlines in the newspaper but the news is affecting us.  I have applied for small business credit cards and have been denied all over town.  The problem is that our credit record is blank; we have no annual income so far and have been a business for less than 6 months.  Maybe a year ago creditors would have looked at our blank record with optimism.  Today, they do not see potential for our business, the glass is half-empty.  

Luckily, a credit card is not absolutely necessary for us to complete our store but, it does mean that we must make some changes in our scheduling of purchases.  Ugh, it just makes everything a little more difficult and you know, it’s depressing to be denied credit, even if it’s understandable given the current conditions.


Finally, some good news to share with you all– On Monday morning I went to the Town Office and picked up our Building Permit (and wrote a $687 check for processing, I already paid $200 just for the application…)!! YEAH!!!!! Let the demolition begin! I went into the store today and not only is demolition almost done but the electricians were already getting to work. We may meet our target schedule after all!

Needless to say, starting a business requires a lot of permits.  In the end, the approval feels like validation from the community.  In the interim, it is confusing and annoying.  I had a hard time figuring out exactly which forms we needed to complete and I am still running into trouble with the forms I have completed.  There are websites that list forms state by state but they are general lists and they don’t include the town permits.  Luckily everyone I ran into was so nice that I just asked them a whole lot of questions to figure stuff out.  Just in case: here is the website of the Small Business Administration for permits and licenses.

We need/ed:

Federal Employer Identification Number

DUNS number

County Business License (obtained at the County Courthouse) and maybe $50? I can’t remember now.

Commercial Building Permit (obtained at the Town Office) which was submitted along with 2 sets of plans with a state architect’s official seal and $200.  If we were planning to change the exterior of the building we would need to submit an additional 2 sets of plans.  They’re looking for town issues, are you going to make the town ugly, is there handicap access, are there enough bathrooms, are all your pipes in the right places, etc. 

County Department of Environmental Health approval which was submitted along with one set of plans, a menu, a HACCP analysis based on the menu and $150.  They look at the plans and make sure all the equipment is NSF certified and make sure you have the right amount of sinks in the right amount of places and that your cabinets and ceilings don’t have perforations in them where bugs could hide.  

State Fire Marshall’s approval, he needed one set of plans.  Makes sure that there are two exits and that there are either sprinklers (there are none) or that the building was built before those laws were passed.  That’s us.  Knock on wood for no fires.


we also were required to get Worker’s Compensation Insurnace

and Unemployment Insurance

we are still waiting for a State Trader’s License which should come with our State Tax Registration.  This was supposed to be applied for by our payroll company representative but he hasn’t done it yet…