Opening a Restaurant in Washtenaw County
If you are planning on purchasing or opening a food service establishment in Washtenaw County, there are several steps you must take. This process can seem daunting, but the following information gives you an approximate idea of what you can expect.
First of all, any facility that serves food to the public is required to be licensed. This includes restaurants, coffee shops, bars, catering facilities, churches, schools, etc.
Before you decide to purchase a food service establishment, you may want to take a course in safe food handling. The Michigan Food Law requires all food service establishments to have at least one manager certified in food safety. These courses will teach you basic requirements of safe food handling, which many people new to the industry find very helpful.
Facility is Open & Operating
If the facility you hope to purchase is currently open and operating:
- You may want to review the previous three online inspection reports to see if there are any items that may be in need correction. Be sure to review any items related to equipment and ventilation, as these can be costly to repair!
- You can also file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to review the entire restaurant file.
Facility has Been Closed
If the facility has been closed:
- You can speak to a Senior Sanitarian regarding the status of the facility and any equipment changes that may need to occur to bring the facility up to current code requirements. Contact our office at 734-222-3800 for this information.
When you are certain you will be purchasing a facility, submit the following to our office:
- Change of Owner / Change of Use Application (PDF)
- Food Service License Application
- Food Service License Fee (PDF)
Plan Review Process
If you will be making any equipment or menu changes, you may also need to go through our Plan Review process.
Open Your Establishment
If you do not need to go through plan review and you have already applied for your food service license and paid any fees, you can open your establishment. 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 food safety procedures 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 a staff member directly 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 Federal Food Code. Becoming familiar with these requirements as well as taking a class in safe food handling will help you understand the inspection process.
- Michigan Food Law (PDF) - updated October 1, 2012
- Michigan Modified Food Code (PDF) - updated October 1, 2012
- Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development - Food Establishment Licensing Information
- For additional information on operating a food service establishment in Washtenaw County, visit our Food Service Guidelines page