Click on a category to the left to filter the list of FAQs below.

I want to open a new restaurant. What do I need to do?

If you are taking over an existing licensed establishment, you simply need to contact your Inspector and arrange for an opening inspection and new license application. If you are planning on performing a remodel of the existing business, you need to call your Inspector and discuss the project. If the remodel is significant, it may be necessary for you to file a plan review application. This is something for your Inspector to determine after consulting with you. If the establishment has been closed for a significant period of time (more than 30 days) or if you plan on starting an entirely new business in a facility which did not have that use before, you will need to do a plan review application. The plan review process involves providing Community Health Services with a set of plans, particularly the equipment layout, along with an application that details your menu and the nature of your operation. The Inspector reviews the application and determines if the proposal is in compliance with the Health Codes. If so, an Approval to Construct is issued and the applicant is notified by mail. If there are problems with the plans, the Inspector will be in contact with the applicant to work out a solution. Once the Approval to Construct is granted, and other necessary approvals from other agencies such as the Building Permit have been obtained, the applicant is authorized to proceed. We typically perform at least one interim construction visit when one of our inspectors is in that area. When the owner/applicant is ready to open for business, he or she should call our office about 3 working days before and we will arrange to meet with the owners at the business, perform an opening inspection and take care of all the paperwork for the operating license. A Construction Guide booklet is available from our offices and it offers a great deal of information about what is required and how the process works.

I’m only going to be doing a limited menu. Do I still need to do all that?

Yes. The plan review process is designed to evaluate your operation and its facility needs. If you are offering an extensive menu with a great deal of food processing, your equipment needs will be greater. If your operation is going to be limited, the equipment needs will be much reduced. The Construction Guide offers assistance in determining what your equipment needs will be.  Additionally, if you have any questions they can be answered by calling the Inspector who handles your district.

What is the minimum equipment needed for a food establishment?

This is a tough question because each establishment needs to be individually evaluated based upon the amount of food served and the types of food preparation processes involved. In general, though, the absolute minimum equipment needed for any food or beverage establishment is a hand wash sink in each work station, a three-compartment sink indirectly drained into a floor sink, a mop sink, sufficient hot and cold equipment for the operation, and all surfaces such as walls and ceiling need to be made of a smooth, durable, easily cleanable, light-colored material. Floors need to be smooth, easily cleanable and non-absorbent. If produce is to be washed or other food is to be prepared in a sink, then a separate food sink is needed and this also needs to be indirectly drained into a floor sink. The three-compartment sink is reserved for dishwashing and each compartment needs to be large enough to accommodate the biggest piece of equipment that will be washed.

 

 

 

What do I need to do if I take over an existing restaurant?

All of our licenses are only valid for the original applicant. When any establishment changes hands, the new owner must obtain a new operating license. If there is no change in the facility or the nature of the business, the new owner needs to call our office and arrange for an inspection and paperwork application review. If the new owner plans on expanding the operation or remodeling, he should contact us as soon as possible to discuss what needs to be done. It may be necessary to file plans for review on the intended changes. No one should take over an existing establishment without first contacting our department and obtaining a valid operating license.

My friends all rave about my salsa/baked goods. Can I make these and sell them from my home kitchen? Do I need a license for this?

The Health Codes prohibit vending of foods unless made in a licensed commercial kitchen facility. It is not lawful to sell foods made in a home kitchen. We cannot issue licenses for home kitchens even if an attempt is made to bring them up to commercial standards because the Health Codes call for a complete separation of living quarters from commercial kitchens. A home kitchen cannot be considered suitable for commercial food preparation because it is typically not possible to segregate the kitchen from children, pets and other extraneous people or things. If you wish to get a license to make and sell an item such as salsa, you should call one of our Inspectors to obtain guidance. One option worth considering is to get a written commissary agreement with a Community Health Services Licensed Facility giving you the right to use their kitchen for your operation. An exemption to using a home kitchen for preparing and selling food for the public may be available through the State Cottage Law, also known as the Home-baked Law.  Contact the Arizona Department of Health Services for information.

Does Community Health Services regulate potlucks?

Potlucks in private homes, churches and offices are not regulated by Community Health Services. Information on proper handling of food at private potlucks can be obtained from the Arizona Cooperative Extension Service in Prescott. Any food service which is open to the general public falls under our regulations. Because Health Codes prohibit serving food to the public which is not produced in a licensed commercial kitchen, the use of homemade foods at a potluck held in a public facility is not allowed.

My organization wants to do fundraising dinners. Is a Community Health Services permit/license needed?

The event organizer should call our office and speak to an inspector. The degree of Community Health Services involvement will depend upon the type of food proposed and the duration of the event. Organizations wanting to do fundraising dinners on a routine basis will need to work out of a commercial kitchen and obtain an operating license. Note: Foods prepared or cooked at home is not allowed to be served at this type of event.  One other option might be to contract with a licensed commercial caterer to provide food for your event.

What happens after I have been given approval to construct and I am ready to open?

Once you have received your letter informing you of the Approval to Construct, you are free to begin construction. If you have any questions or would like an interim inspection, you may call our office and we will be glad to help. We generally like to perform at least one construction inspection for every newly built facility. When your facility is built and the equipment is all in place, you should call our office about 3 working days prior to your opening date to arrange a meeting with your Inspector. At that time, we will perform an “opening” inspection and work with the owner to complete all application paperwork. If the owner or manager has not yet completed a Food Safety Plan, it must be completed, submitted, and approved before approval to operate will be given.

I am organizing a concert and art fair and we will have food booths. What does Community Health Services require me to do?

Food served at concerts, festivals, fairs and the like come under our regulation. If you are organizing such an event or wish to serve food there, you should contact your Inspector to discuss your plans and what will be required. For short events (under 4 hours duration including set-up and take-down) with limited food service (hot dogs, burgers, etc.), a special event permit is necessary but a fee may not be required
For longer events and those with more extensive food service, a Special Event permit is required. We have a Special Event Coordinator Application for the event organizer to complete which requires information about the event and its participants. We also have a Special Event Vendor Application for each individual vendor to describe their menu and operation.All of these applications must be completed and turned in to Community Health Services and approved prior to the event.  If vendor applications are not received 48 hours prior to the start of the event, a late fee will be assessed.  These application packets may be obtained by going to our website at yavapaihealth.com/environmental-health.

I have a mobile food unit. How can I get permission to operate in Yavapai County?

If you want to operate your mobile food unit at a single event in our county, you can submit a one-time special event vendor application. The application requires you to describe your menu, facility and operations. If you wish to operate in Yavapai County on a more routine basis, you may obtain an annual operating license with us. For complete information on how to obtain an annual MFU license, go to our website at yavapaihealth.com/environmental-health and look for our MFU Application Packet.  This first requires you to file a set of plans with a plan review application and fee, which we must review and approve to make sure your facility meets the minimum requirements of the Food Code. If you are going to be building the mobile unit yourself, you must have our approval on the plans before you begin. If your mobile is a commercially manufactured model, you will still need to provide plans for review; however, you can simply provide us with the manufacturer’s plans. Once the plan review has been done and construction approval granted, the process works the same as with any other licensed facility. When the construction is done or the mobile has been purchased, one of our Inspectors needs to physically examine the unit and make sure it meets the codes and then operating license paperwork must be completed.  All MFUs must operate from an approved commissary in Yavapai County.

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