NYC Checklist for Required Signs for Restaurants & Bars Summary

AberCPA is an expert firm that assists hundreds of New York City and surrounding area restaurants with tax preparation and tax saving strategies. We also want our website to be a vital asset of information for all restaurant and bar owners.

We came upon the above infographic resource and wanted to summarize and highlight some of the important areas because they are absolutely essential for restaurants.  if you own or operate a restaurant this is more than useful.   Owning a restaurant requires a good amount of paperwork, licenses, inspections and signs that must be put up for your customers and employees. The signs are very critical.  Fortunately, the NYC’s Business Express Portal and The NYC Hospitality Alliance have compiled a list to provide restaurants and bars with the necessary signs required by the city and state.  Signs, signs, everywhere a sign!

There are signs that need to be put up in the sidewalk if you have a sidewalk cafe or a restaurant.  There signs legally required for practically everything that is everywhere, especially in the restaurant industry. We are going to highlight and explain 5 signs that are required by law for your restaurant.

Signs Required Outside for All Employees and Patrons

The best place to get information about letter grades is from AberCPA and the NYC Restaurant Inspections Page.

Letter Grades should be placed  outside your business for visitors to view clearly. . Read more about the grading process here.

What is a letter grade? Letter grades are given to restaurants by the Metropolitan Area Health Department.  A letter grade is a score for a restaurant based on how well the establishment has implemented the legal City and State Food & Safety Requirements which include more than food handling and hygiene.  Each violation can earns a lot of points. The lower the points, the better the letter grade.

  • Restaurants with a score between 0 and 13 points, get that perfect ‘A”
  • Restaurants with a score between 14 and 27 points, get that perfect not so great ‘B”
  • Restaurants with a score above these measurements will be posted on the New York City Health Department

Signs Required Outside Customer Location Venues

Paying your restaurant or bar sales tax in the New York Metropolitan Area is no joke. Just a few reasons which make this massively important to your restaurant or bar’s financial success are the expensive fines on and for your restaurant or bar which you will, without doubt, receive. According to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Guide to Sales Tax Publication 750:  “If you are required to register for sales tax purposes but fail to do so and you engage in business without having obtained a valid Certificate of Authority, you will be subject to a penalty. The penalty is up to $500 for the first day business is conducted without having obtained a valid Certificate of Authority, plus up to $200 per day for each day thereafter. The maximum penalty for engaging in business without obtaining a valid Certificate of Authority is $10,000.” And that is just referencing a first offense. AberCPA wants you to avoid such a terrible situation.

Signs Required Everywhere in a Restaurant or Bar to Display Exit & Entry Directions

Again, no messing around with New York City authorities and the mandated building codes; they take all of these codes, as they should, very seriously.  It’s a safety issue.  And, in emergencies, safety comes first.

AberCPA Highly Recommends:

  • Installation of signs and other related items by a licensed contractor.  The best way to find these contractors, after you contact AberCPA, is to review the website.
  • Learn the basics:
    • If there is a fire or smoke hazard in your institution- how does everyone efficiently exit in the most safe possible way?
    • Exit signs?  Where are your exit signs?  Are they visible to absolutely everyone who comes into your restaurant or bar?  Are they up to par with the latest color, size and color requirements?  The Life Safety Code makes this an absolute standard.  New patrons or employees may not know the layout of your restaurant.  No one needs to be hurt.


Signs required in the Kitchen Area

Large refrigerators, HVAC units and even boilers absolutely need NYC equipment use permits.  This is for the intention of avoiding fires and other events.  It is not a difficult process,  just apply online at  Required by law, valid equipment use permits specified in 27-185 of the Building Code of the City of New York are imperative. You must obtain permits on all heating and cooling electrical unit systems and they must be current and updated with inspection records.

A Certification of Compliance requires some work.  Don’t forget though, this will include the following:

  • Air-conditioning and ventilation systems

  • Fuel-burning and fuel-oil storage equipment, including generators

  • Refrigeration systems

  • Heating systems, boilers

Tips & Taxation required for Employees Area

 If the New York City of Department of Labor says no, don’t do it.  Their website is  Every restaurant or bar employer engaged in the sale or service, food of beverages are required by law to post signs to in order educate and inform “food service workers” about their rules and rights with regards to how tips are shared, counted and taxed. It is LS 204 Tip Appropriation, which is from the New York State Labor law section 196-d. The NYS labor law also wants restaurants to inform its food service workers about all the laws and rules as per do what an employer can and cannot legally deduct from wages.  To learn more about  this view the actual article: LS 605 Deductions from Wages section 193.

Bottom line is that it is difficult running a successful restaurant or bar, and this is just a brief summary of some the many signs you are required to have posted with permits when applicable. Remember, if you do not comply with all rules and laws you are running a risk of losing licenses or permits and getting steep additions penalties and fines.

If you have any questions about taxes, planning, money saving strategies, contact AberCpa with any and all questions.


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