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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, MS Program Manager (216)201-2000 ext.1251 Paul DeSario, RS, PhD Supervisor (216)201-2000 ext.1243 Rick Melendez, RS, MPH Supervisor (216)201-2000 ext.1211

Before You Begin Contact the community officials in your city 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 construction,  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 facility with a risk level 3 and risk level 4 food service and food establishment license 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 (level II) and the level I 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 and all other requirements listed below;
    • 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 you will receive notification to call the Cuyahoga County Board of Health to schedule a 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, you will receive an inspection report informing you to 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