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The Process of Opening a Food Operation

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 Program Contact

Jim Armstrong MS, RS
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