Starting a Catering Business in Oregon: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide


If you have a passion for cooking and baking, love working with people, and have impeccable organizational skills, you may be thinking about starting your own catering business.

But starting a catering business in Oregon is not as simple as finding events to provide food for -- there are a lot of important steps catering business owners need to follow in order to start and run their business properly.

Get the right equipment


One of the first things to consider is getting the necessary equipment. Some catering businesses can start right out of a home kitchen -- if this is the case, home kitchen equipment should be inspected and updated as needed.

Some of the main pieces of equipment needed include an oven, stove, refrigerator, and electric mixers. Having a big, and working, refrigerator is crucial because food needs to be kept cold to avoid it going bad.


If necessary, caterers should invest in Bend Oregon refrigerator repair to ensure their fridge is in good working condition. Otherwise, they may risk a broken fridge and spoiled food.

Getting the necessary equipment can be costly, especially if someone decides to build or rent a commercial kitchen. This is why it’s important to consider startup costs.

A business plan should include startup costs to show banks how much money will go towards equipment. Depending on whether it’s going to just involve updating a home kitchen or building a completely new commercial kitchen, startup costs can vary drastically.

Consider the legal factors


Even if someone is using their home kitchen for their catering business, there are still a lot of legal factors to keep in mind.

First, a business structure needs to be chosen -- this can be chosen based on how business income will be taxed and how much money the business brings in.

Caterers should consider the risk that comes with the business, which is making food for other people to consume. LLCs and corporations both separate the business owner from business liability, whereas sole proprietorships don’t.

Speaking of liability, catering businesses should have a strong insurance policy. There are a lot of things that could go wrong, including transportation accidents, people getting sick from the food, and even kitchen dangers.

An insurance policy will protect the business owner if something does go wrong and a lawsuit arises.

When working with customers, caterers should always have a contract. A catering contract should include which services are being provided, who is paying for them, and when payments are to be made.

Contracts should be as detailed as possible to avoid confusion and problems later on -- contracts can protect both the customer and the caterer if something goes wrong.

Oregon licenses and permits

Oregon licenses and permits

Catering business owners in Oregon do need a business license along with a food-serving license and possibly a liquor license if that applies. And running a business also means registering with the Department of Revenue for tax purposes.

There are also regulatory licenses and permits that Oregon catering business owners need to obtain.

For example, permits related to health and safety are needed to show that caterers know and follow health and safety regulations, like storing food properly.

Other permits may be related to construction, especially if a new kitchen is being built. If this is the case, catering business owners need permits for things like electrical work, digging in certain areas, and even commercial roofing in Portland, OR.

In order to have a catering business in Oregon, these are just a few of the steps people need to follow.

Those wanting a catering business should meet with a lawyer and ensure they fully understand what they need to do to make their business legal and legitimate with the state.