How to start a food business, plus a food cart graphic

Austinites do love food! In fact, the Austin metropolitan food sector generates $4.1 billion annually in economic activity and supports more than 43,000 jobs. Whether you're interested in opening your own restaurant, food trailer, or food processing business, there are important things you should know.

Getting Started:

For general information on starting a business, visit the City of Austin’s Small Business Program website. You’ll also need to become familiar with State and Austin-Travis County food retail requirements.


For an overview of Food Safety Requirements to protect public health:

Farmers Markets:

  • Home prepared meals are not allowed at farmers markets. All food preparation must be done at a central preparation facility or other food establishment with a valid permit.

Food Trucks and other Mobile Vending:

  • Food trucks and mobile vendors must follow all state and municipal health and safety codes. See Mobile Food Business Requirements for more information about wastewater disposal, inspections, and push carts.

Operating from your home:

Learn about requirements for Cottage Food production. Some general guidelines to know:

  • Under certain conditions, you can operate a small food business out of your home without a permit.
  • Foods that require controlled temperatures to stay safe and edible are not allowed as part of a cottage food business.
  • Cottage food may not be sold online, by mail order, or at wholesale.


In addition to traditional commercial and business loans, here are some other resources to help with funding your food business:

  • Community Development Financial Institutions, like PeopleFund, provide small business loans, assistance, and education to people with limited access to funding and resources.

Additional Resources:

The City of Austin offers many resources for business assistance. For more information, call 512-974-7800 or visit