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Opening a Food Business

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 Program Contact

Jim Armstrong MS, REHS
Program Manager
216.201.2000 ext 1251
jarmstrong@ccbh.net

Food businesses operating in Cuyahoga County, with the exception of the City of Cleveland, are required to have either a food service operation or retail food establishment a license issued by CCBH.

If you will be operating in our jurisdiction and intend to open a restaurant or retail food facility, remodel a restaurant or facility, or make any changes which could result in a change of your license status or risk class (add new menu items, add or replace equipment, or change processes), you are required by Ohio Food Code to undergo plan review with CCBH.

Before you begin the process, we want you to be prepared.

 

Prior to Submitting Your Plans

You should contact the local officials responsible for permitting and inspecting facilities in your community, including:

  • 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.
  • 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.

 

  • 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.
  • 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.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Plan Review

Can I draw my own plans?

Yes, hand-drawn plans are accepted. They must be drawn to scale, drawn neatly and all notes written legibly.

We recommend starting with a large sheet of graph paper, a ruler, and a pencil. Use a scale of one square on the drawing to 1 foot in reality.

After the pencil drawing is complete and correct, retrace the lines in ink and make 2 copies.

Keep the original and submit two copies. You may need to provide drawings to your local building department as well.

 

Do I need a menu or list of foods served?

Yes, we use the menu to determine your food license risk class, the type of equipment needed and the fee that you must pay.

If you aren’t preparing food on site or are selling pre-packaged food only, you will need to provide a list of foods you plan to sell.

 

How many sinks will I need to have in my restaurant?

The answer to this question depends on what type of operation you plan to open.

There must be at least one (1) hand sink in the kitchen where food is prepared. More hand sinks may be required depending on the size of the kitchen.

Hand sinks in the restrooms do not count as a hand sink in the kitchen.

  • A 3 compartment sink with properly sized grease trap and drainboards or a commercial dish machine must be available for wash/rinse/sanitize
  • A dedicated vegetable prep sink with an indirect waste if fruits or vegetables will be cut on site
  • A dedicated mop/utility sink for mop water is required

 

I haven’t purchased all of my equipment yet. Do you still need the make and model numbers?

Yes. When reviewing plans, we use the make and model numbers to make sure that the equipment you use has the proper capacity.

We also have to be sure the equipment is commercial grade. Home-style equipment is not permitted and will not be approved.

It is recommended you submit specification sheets for each piece of equipment.

Does my equipment have to be brand new?

No, equipment does not have to be brand new. Equipment that is “used” is allowed as long as the equipment is NSF-approved commercial grade equipment or equivalent, the equipment meets all current standards, and equipment is in good working order.

 

What size grease trap do I need?

Talk to your local building department plumbing inspector for exact sizing requirements. Different municipalities may have ordinances that require certain size grease traps or grease interceptors with requirements more strict than the Ohio Building Code.

 

I plan to open a child care and will have food delivered. How much information is needed for the plan review packet?

Your facility must be licensed as a Risk Class 2 Receiving Kitchen. Follow the steps above for plan review and menu submission.

 

Can I pay extra to have my plans reviewed before others?

After receiving your completed plans, we can review them within three business days for an expedited fee of $500. The expedited fee is in addition to the regular plan review fee.

 

I plan on starting up a mobile food business, do I need to submit plans?

Yes. However, traditional plan review is not required for mobile food licenses. The Mobile Plan Review application process is detailed enough that it collects similar information.

It is a good idea to speak with a food sanitarian before buying a new mobile food business to make sure it meets all standards.

Click here to download the the Mobile Plan Review application.

The Pre-Licensing document is the first document you should complete and send in for review.  There is no cost to this form and it will save you much time and money if you follow this process.

 

 How do we get certified in food protection?

There are two type of certification: Level I (Person-in-charge) and Level II (ServSafe Managers Course).

Both types are offered at our main office and at satellite facilities by request.

Click here to visit our Food Safety Education page.

 

Submitting Your Plans

Bring your plans to our office at least 30 days before construction is scheduled to begin. You must have these six things:

  • Two complete sets of the drawings for your specific location which show the layout, fixtures, equipment, plumbing etc. that will be used in your facility. Be sure to include the surfaces of floors, walls, ceilings and cove base.
  • An equipment list which includes the makes and model numbers of for each piece. All equipment must be National Sanitation Foundation commercial grade or the equivalent.
  • Menu or list of food and beverages that will be sold.
  • HAACP plans if required. Examples include serving acidified rice or using reduced-oxygen packaged products.
  • A completed Food Plan Review application.
  • The correct plan review fee.

 

Within 30 days after your plans are submitted, we will review them. If we require additional information or changes, we will contact you.

Once your plans are approved, you will receive a confirmation email and/or letter.

This letter only states that the plans have been approved. It DOES NOT give you permission to open or operate your business.

 

Construction and Permitting

It is your responsibility to be sure that all contractors and sub-contractors are licensed, if required.

You must also ensure that your contractors obtain the necessary permits for your specific location.

 

Pre-licensing Inspection

When your plans have been approved, you will receive an email and/or letter asking you to call us to schedule a pre-licensing inspection.

Please call at least one week prior to your anticipated start date to be sure that an inspector will be available.

 

Licensing and Opening

Once your opening inspection is satisfactorily completed and your license fee is paid, you will be able to open for business.

 

Resources & Links

Plan review application

Pre-licensing checklist – use this checklist to prepare for the pre-licensing inspection.

Risk Class Identification – this list will determine the plan review fee and your facilities food license fee.

State of Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code – to search the food code, hold down the CONTROL key and the F key on your keyboard at the same time to open a search window.



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