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Once you have received approval to open on the pre-opening inspection(s) and the license application and fee have been submitted, you can open your facility as long as all other required approvals are in order. Remember: You may need approvals from the local building department, fire department, etc. before opening!
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Food service plan review is a process that new and remodeling food service facilities must complete to review the design and layout of their proposed construction or changes. Plans must be received and approved before any construction may take place. In addition, any new equipment must be approved before installation. Keep in mind that removing or relocating equipment such as hand sinks, dish machines, and 3-compartment sinks may also require approval. The purpose of plan review is to spot problems on paper so that necessary changes can be made before costly purchases, installation and construction take place.
If your facility is a restaurant, coffee shop, bar, catering facility, or other facility serving food directly to the public within Washtenaw County, you will need to go through the plan review process with the Washtenaw County Environmental Health Division. The instructions on the Food Service Plan Review page will guide you through the plan review process.
If your facility is a retail grocery store, convenience store, party store, processing facility or warehouse, you will be working with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) for your plan review. The MDARD offices can be reached at 800-292-3939, or you can go to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development website for more information.
If you are building or remodeling a restaurant or food service facility, you must submit plans prior to the start of construction. If the remodeling is cosmetic only, such as new carpeting in the dining room, you do not need to submit plans.
The length of time plan review will take depends mostly on the completeness of the information you submit. Once the information is submitted, our Senior Sanitarians will go through the menu, floor plan, equipment, worksheets, and standard operating procedures to ensure that all items are completed and meet current guidelines. A letter of approval or denial (detailing the information needed for approval) will be mailed within 30 days from your original submission. Additional information is required on most submittals, so please plan for this.
The approval letter authorizes you to begin construction, as long as you have received approval from other required agencies (building department, etc). If you wish to make changes from the approved plans during the construction process, you must have these changes approved.
As you near the end of the construction process, contact our office to schedule an appointment for a pre-opening inspection. This is required to ensure that the facility was built according to the plans submitted. We do the best we can to meet customer demand, and can usually schedule this inspection within several business days.
At this time, you will also need to submit a Food Service License Application and pay a Food Service License Fee if you are opening a new establishment. The fee is based on the square footage of the establishment. Although the paper license may take several weeks to process, you are considered licensed once the application and payment are submitted along with appropriate approvals.
Your Sanitarian (health inspector) will visit your establishment within the first month of your opening. During this inspection, your Sanitarian will review your menu and your restaurant with you. You will then receive a routine inspection approximately every six months.
Your food service license expires every April 30. A renewal application will be sent to you in the mail. If you do not receive one by April 1st, please contact our office at 734-222-3800 to avoid late fees.
If you have any questions, please contact Washtenaw County Environmental Health at 734-222-3800. We are more than happy to help guide you through this process! In addition, there are a lot of online resources available to help you. Restaurants in Michigan are regulated under the Michigan Food Law of 2000 and the 2005 FDA Food Code. Becoming familiar with these requirements as well as taking a class in safe food handling will help you understand the inspection process.