New Food Establishment or Renovation

A Guide to Opening a New Food Establishment or Renovation

Opening a new food establishment is an exciting and complex process. Once you have identified the location for your new business there are several steps which you will need to take simultaneously.
  • Step 1 - Contact the Building Department in order to determine if your proposal meets the local zoning bylaw.
  • Step 2 - Submit a completed Application to Build or Renovate a Food Establishment--Form J Food Service Establishment Plan Review (PDF) to the Health Department along with additional items, found on the Additional Submission Requirements page, which may be required depending on the type of establishment you are proposing. Refer to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Establishment Plan Review Manual  for detailed information on how to complete the application. For additional information view the Flowchart for Process of Permitting and Opening a Food Service Establishment In Concord (PDF). Note: All plans must be prepared by a Commercial Kitchen Designer.
  • Step 3 - If your project is served by municipal sewer, you will likely need to discuss your proposal with the Water and Sewer Department in order to determine if there will be an increased sewer flow and Sewer Improvement Fee associated with your planned use. This process begins with the submission of Form S (PDF) Sewer Review to the Health Division.
  • If the project is served by a septic system, submit Form C Title 5 Building Review to the Health Division to determine if your septic system has adequate capacity for the proposed use.
  • Step 4  -You must also submit an application and a separate set of roll plans to the Building Department for their review and necessary building, plumbing and electrical permits.

Submitting a Food Establishment Application: Where to Begin

The menu is an integral part of this process. The menu or listing of all the food and beverages items to be offered at the food service establishment must be submitted with all other plan review application documents. The plan review process will focus on the food and what will happen to the food. The source and quantity of foods to be served will be reviewed along with the preparation and post-preparation operations and proposed storage practices.

Food Preparation

Food preparation process will be evaluated to determine the types and volumes of foods prepared. Special attention will be given to complex food processes which will involve:
  • Multiple ingredients being assembled or mixed
  • Potentially hazardous foods in regards to Temperature Controlled for Safety (TCS)
  • Foods which will be prepared or held for several hours prior to service
  • Foods which require cooling and reheating
  • Multiple step processing (passing through the critical temperature zone,140°F to 41°F more than once)

Style of Food Service

The style of food service will also be reviewed. The style of food service may be cook-to-order (cook serve), self-service (buffet or salad bar), service of pre-packaged foods, service of large volumes of food, food preparation requiring multiple steps and handling, and more. The menu for a food service establishment dictates the space and equipment requirement for the safe preparation and service of various food items. The menu will determine if the proposed receiving and delivery areas, storage areas, preparation and handling areas and thawing and cooking, and reheating areas are available and adequate to handle the types and volumes of foods being served.

When looking at the menu, the Health Department will evaluate the flow patterns for the preparation of the foods to be served ensure that the lay-out of the facility provides adequate separation of raw ingredients from ready-to-eat foods, that the traffic patterns are not crossing paths with the waste items and other sources of contamination. With the proper understanding of the menu, the plans for the food service establishments can be reviewed to assure that the food items proposed can be protected during the service operation.

Note: Failure to submit all of the required documentation will delay the review of your application.

Approvals and Inspections

Once your application has been reviewed and approved, you will be notified in writing by the Health Department. Construction to build out your facility may begin once approvals from all appropriate departments are received such as the Building Department, Water and Sewer Division, etc. The applicant shall submit a completed Permit to Operate Application (PDF).

The Health Department will conduct (a minimum) of 2 pre-operational inspections before issuing a Permit to Operate. During the first inspection, the Public Health Inspector will walk through the facility to confirm that it was built and equipped in accordance with the approved plan. Then, just prior to opening, a second inspection is conducted to verify that all equipment is operational and meets the standards as outlined Federal, State, and Local regulations.