The house resides in the middle of an orchard. I'd like to retrofit my "empty nest" home into a restaurant similar to this one, but I believe there may be zoning laws that could prevent me from doing this. My question is, can this be done and what kind of resources should I be reading to get a better understanding as to how to pursue this professionally?
Opening a business in a location that was once a residence will involve many aspects of laws and ordinances that are very localized in nature, including zoning for the land parcel, health regulations for the food-oriented business, and building fire and safety regulations for the structure.
Since those laws will be very localized, the best that anyone can say is that you should start with asking at your local city hall - if the property is located within a city or township - as well as your county government offices.
Both will be able to give you a checklist for all of the local laws that will apply to your situation and how to go about applying for zoning variances, if needed, getting structure and fire inspections, and licenses and permits for all work needed to convert the house, as well as health inspections once the restaurant is in operation.
There also may be a local chamber of commerce that can help you navigate the process to open such a business, help with dealing with banks, contractors, marketing the new business, etc.