A full consultation would be necessary to advise you properly. The various business entities have different tax implications, different rules for issuing shares/interests, fees, etc.
You can't imagine how many stories in a lawyer's office start with "I thrusted him with my life". If you guys use off the shelf operating agreement and don't have a buy-sell agreement in the event of death, permanent disability or disire to withdraw or retire, controversy awaits you. At least you are smart to do so in a different entity, and never use a sole proprietorship or general partnership in the food industry.
Either corporation or LLC will work and the decion of which should be made in conjunction with your CPA, which every business have to hope to succeed. If you are already at this level of business development, time to lawyer up with someone who can be part of your team for years.
There are so many great business lawyer in the Valley and West LA. Avvo has a good choice, but also other avenues for finding one, such as recommendations.
Good luck in all your ventures.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.
I agree with my colleagues.
You should start with an accountant / tax advisor to determine which approach will be most tax-efficient from the personal and the business perspective. Then an experienced business lawyer can help you form the appropriate legal entity or entities.
This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
With that type of good objective, I strongly advise you consult a business/tax lawyer to get some solid advice. Don't rely on free advice. Some times, I get a client who has made legal and tax moves without professional device, which most the time is very costly to remedy.
You need to consult with a couple different people to start with: 1) a business attorney and 2) an accountant. Most business attorneys will be able to set you up with the latter and also provide (non-tax related) guidance on this subject. The reason it is difficult for us to answer this question here is that we will need a lot more information about the business you plan to set up. Also, online business have additional challenges, for example, privacy agreements, domain name choice and registration, and a host of other issues. Someone who specializes in internet business law should be able to help you with all of this.
If you want to speak about this matter personally, feel free to contact me at email@example.com. (www.antoinelaw.com)
Best of luck!