City of Asheville develops Restaurant Startup Guide, announces several Development Services upgrades

Opening a restaurant is no game. It’s a complicated enterprise that includes building permits and health inspections, for one. In fact, it takes multiple steps from concept to completion before a chef/owner can welcome his or her first diners.

To help Asheville restaurateurs navigate the ins and outs of needed permits and inspections, the City of Asheville’s Development Services Department recently developed a Restaurant Startup Guide. The tri-fold brochure, also available online, is colorfully designed and laid out like a board game to assist the user. The Restaurant Startup Guide also contains a QR code to aid in the user experience by redirecting the customer to all the necessary websites and links that are referenced in the brochure. The first step is Go! for folks who have a business plan and a location. Step 2: What permits do I need?

With more than 100 independent restaurants in Asheville — and more coming all the time — the new Restaurant Startup Guide is designed to help simplify the process for business owners.

“Restaurants are one of the harder projects to get off the ground because they’re complicated with multiple agencies involved beyond the City,” said Development Services Director Jason Nortz.

Take for example the need for ABC permits and health inspections. Within the City, an applicant needs approval from Zoning and Building inspectors as well as a fire inspection, all to ensure safety.

“Our hope is that the City’s new Restaurant Startup Guide will serve as an effective planning tool for people who have great culinary ideas and need guidance on how to make their vision a reality,” said Nortz.

Some 500 copies of the guide will be printed up and distributed to the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association as well as the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Asheville Board of Realtors. Of course, it will also be available at Asheville’s DSD Customer Service Counter, located in the Public Works Building, 161 S Charlotte St. Finally, this guide is printable for anyone who wants to use it. Find it on the DSD Permits & Applications webpage.


More Development Services Department improvements


Early Assistance Program

DSD has formalized its preliminary meeting process designed to assist potential applicants with basic permitting and process questions they might have in advance of any formal submittal. Find an online application process at the City’s ACA portal: Scroll down to “services” and click on “request early assistance.”


New Drop-off Line

Already have a plan in the works with the City? The drop-off line allows customers to avoid waiting in a line for the purposes of dropping off a document. “If someone is  already in the system working with staff, they can drop-off follow-up information here,” said Assistant DSD Director Diane Meek. Items eligible for the drop-off line include such things as response to comments, revised plans, supplemental information and close-out documents.


TRC Map and Development Project Assistant

The City’s Planning Department staff developed an Interactive Map and Development Project Assistant for Technical Review only projects. The Interactive Map shows the location of all tech review projects by type, such as subdivisions or Level II or Level III projects, which are often hotels. You can click on each location to get specific information about each project (i.e.; planner, zoning, project description, etc.). Visit the map here.


Interactive guide to starting a project: The Development Project Assistant is a great tool that allows potential applicants to find out what process they need to go through based on their project type. It interfaces with the City’s SimpliCity data-rich search engine.  Link to the portal here.


Accela Permitting Software Improvements

The Development Services Department recently also recently:

  1. Created a Master Permit # allowing all trade permits to be reviewed and inspected under one permit number as opposed to under 5 or more different numbers on a single project.
  2. The Building Safety Division created a new record type for Repair and Replacement work (i.e.; replacing existing building materials without altering the floor plan). We identified that 28% of plans submitted for plan review as a “Remodel” permit did not actually modify the existing floor plan and could be issued without review. Now these “Repair-Replacement” permits are available as same day service at the Permit Application Center.  These permits are also available online at
  3. Increased total permits available for online application to 14, including “Apply — Pay — Print” for Trade Permits, Repair-Replacement Permits, Temp Banners and Face Changes to existing signs.


We’re here to help! For more information, visit the Development Services Department webpage or call 828-259-5846.