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Food Operation – How to open a Food Business

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For an Appointment or Information Call

Jim Armstrong, RS, MSProgram Manager (216)201-2000 ext.1251 Paul DeSario, RS, PhDSupervisor (216)201-2000 ext.1243 Rick Melendez, RS, MPHSupervisor (216)201-2000 ext.1211

Before You Begin Contact the community officials responsible for permitting and inspecting facilities aside from the Board of Health, including:

  • Zoning. This office determines what types of businesses may occupy a space in their community. For example, property needs different zoning approval for a bar versus a church.
  • Building. This officer permits and inspects the electrical and plumbing fixtures in a facility. Contractors who work in commercial businesses must be registered to work in the community by this office. For example, in order for a plumber to install a sink in a kitchen, he or she must first be registered with the city building department and then obtain a permit for the fixture. In some smaller communities building officials are contracted through the state.
  • Fire. This office will send a fire inspector to inspect the facility prior to operation. Consult with fire personnel before beginning a remodeling project or building a new facility.
  • Mandatory Education. All food operations require a person in charge (PIC) who is certified in either Level I (Person In Charge) or Level II (ServSafe) food safety training or the equivalent. A minimum of one certified operator per shift.  By March 1, 2017 each risk level 3 and risk level 4 food service and food establishment must have at least one management or supervisory employee with a level II Certification in Food Protection.  This certificate is obtained through the Ohio Department of Health after completing an approved course (15 hours of instruction and passing an exam).  A ServSafe certificate itself and the level one certificate does not comply with this new rule.  Click here to learn more about food safety education classes.
  • Weights and Measures. If your business measures goods on site by weight, volume or length, you must contact the Cuyahoga County Consumer Affairs – Division of Weights and Measures at (216)443-7035 to have your devices certified.

1. Plan Submission

  • If your food business is new or extensively remodeled, a plan review application is to be completed and submitted with payment at time of plan approval submission. Use this form to determine the plan approval fee.
    • Equipment List. This includes the makes and model numbers of equipment. All equipment must be National Sanitation Foundation commercial grade or the equivalent.
    • Floor Plan. This is a scale drawing of the layout, fixtures, equipment, plumbing etc. in your facility. Be sure to include the surfaces of floors, walls, ceilings and cove base.
    • Menu. Provide a list of all the food and beverage items that will be served in the facility (i.e. a variety of soda, juice, and alcoholic beverages).
      • HACCP plan.  if serving raw foods (ie. Sushi, steak tartar) acidified rice.
  • Risk Class Identification. View this list to determine which risk class your facility falls into.

2. Pre-Licensing Inspection

  • Once your plan review submittal has been approved, call the Cuyahoga County Board of Health to schedulea Pre-Licensing Inspection. Call at least one week prior to your anticipated start date to ensure that an inspector will be available.
  • Pre-Licensing Inspection: Use this checklist to prepare for the pre-licensing inspection

3. Licensing

  • After passing the pre-licensing inspection, submit a license application and fee for your food business’ appropriate risk class.

Quality Assurance

Please see the resources below and discuss establishing a quality assurance program with your inspector.  Some of the forms are editable using Word or Excel or equivalent programs.  Other forms you need  a PDF Reader  to view. Employee Exclusions and Restrictions Employee Illness Log Equipment Cleaning Schedule Flow of Food Food Safety Temperature Log Levels of Risk Plan Review Application Pre-Licensing Checklist