Today, Latvia is a growing country in many respects, with a lot of business potential due to its advantageous geographical location. Opening a restaurant in Latvia is a sound choice and a potentially lucrative venture. However, it is important to be fully informed of all the relevant factors and risks.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the country every year, and they love to have a good time — especially in restaurants, bars and cafes, just like the locals. It is not surprising, then, that the restaurant business is currently one of the Latvian economy’s most popular and profitable sectors.

Commercial real estate and business premises

Finding premises is the first step in setting up your restaurant business. In the last few years, construction has been increasing all over the country, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the right property. First, you will have to decide what type of property you need and where. Next, you will need to buy or rent the right premises to support the success of your operation in Latvia.

Business registration and company formation

When setting up a business you are required to register your company. This can take up to a few weeks, depending on the case. You will also need to open one or more bank accounts in Latvia.

Permissions and licences

Preparing the necessary documents is an important step. You must get all the required permissions and licences to open your business, and you must be careful and well prepared in your approach — otherwise, you may find it costs you more in time and resources. With no experience of this process, it can take up to a few months or even longer.

Each country presents its own set of intricate challenges with regard to forming, developing and sustaining a business. Owners, financiers and investors must enter into these challenges with the support of a knowledgeable and experienced legal team. Only someone with detailed knowledge of local and international corporate law will be able to set up an overseas business while avoiding the pitfalls that affect many new companies.

In Latvia you’ll need to register with three separate departments:

  • State Revenue Service (VID);
  • Local Health Department (PVD);
  • Department of Buildings (Būvvalde).

You will also need to obtain the following licences and certificates:

  • Licence to sell alcohol;
  • Food hygiene licence;
  • Water quality certificate;
  • Fire safety certificate;
  • Workplace safety certificate;
  • Recorded music licence;
  • HACCP certificate.

HACCP is a self-monitored system for safety in food processing, which includes:

  • Analyzing potential hazards in the food chain;
  • Identifying potential types and sources of contamination during the food production process;
  • Carrying out a Food Risk Analysis and Risk Assessment.
  • Consultation with and permission of local government will be needed, if your business requires a terrace or a signboard.

Creating a potential customer base

Nowadays, creating and developing a successful business is impossible without marketing tools and online resources. By the time the grand opening arrives, you must have a pool of potential customers to start making a profit straight away.

One very important decision is the target market for your business, and you need to follow a “Know your customer” principle, taking a wide range of aspects into account — like age, tastes and preferences, income level, family status, interests, location, etc. 

Recruiting a team

This is one of the final and most important steps in starting up a business. Experienced staff will provide better quality service for your customers, increasing repeats visits and confidence in your restaurant.