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The Process of Opening a Food Operation


For  Additional Program Information Call

Jim Armstrong, RS, MS  
Program Manager
(216)201-2000 ext.1251

1Along with contacting the Board of Health, you should contact the local officials responsible for permitting and inspecting facilities in your community, 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. 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.  Plans must include:
    • 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).
    • HAACP  Plans if needed i.e.  serving acidified rice, ROP products are some examples.
  • Risk Class Identification. View this list to determine which risk class your facility falls into.  This will determine the plan review fee and your facilities food license fee.

2. Pre-Licensing Inspection

  • Once your food shop plans has been approved you will recieve a letter or email informing you 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, 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 require the use of 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
State of Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code

Acidified Rice HACCP TEMPLATE  & Rule Requirements

Reduced Oxygen Packaging – ROP rule requirements