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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  You will need to contact the Building Department in order to determine if your proposal meets the local zoning bylaw.

Step 2 is to submit a completed Application for a Food Establishment to the Health Department along with additional items which may be required depending on the type of establishment you are proposing. Please refer to the FDA website for detailed information on how to complete the application.   Download the Flowchart for Process of Permitting and Opening a Food Service Establishment In Concord.

*All plans must be prepared  by a Commercial Kitchen Designer.

Step 3  You will most likely need to discuss your proposal with the Water and Sewer Department in order to determine if there will be an increased sewer flow associated with your planned use. This process will begin with the submission of Form S (if the establishment is served by town sewer) or Form C if the establishment is served by a septic system.

Step 4  You will also submit an application and roll plans for their review of the build-out of the facility to the Building Department.

Submitting a Food Establishment Application(step 2): 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 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:

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 etc.

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.

        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 parties are received (i.e., Building Department, Water and Sewer Department, etc.)

The applicant shall submit a completed  application for a  "Permit to Operate" .

The Health Department will conduct (a minimum) of two 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 equipt 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.

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