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How to Open a Food Service Establishment

When should I apply?

  • For a facility that was previously permitted as a food service establishment, you must apply at least 21 days prior to operation. This includes facilities that will only have an ownership change and will not undergo any extensive remodel or construction to the existing structure or kitchen.
  • For new construction, or extensively remodeled facilities, you must submit a Plan Review Application prior to construction or remodel.  See the Plan Review Checklist for further requirements. The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) will review the information and offer approval prior to construction.

How do I apply?

What happens after I submit my application?

  • An ECDOH supervisor or inspector will contact you by phone or email to plan a pre-operational inspection of the facility. This may take up to ten (10) days. It may take longer if valid information is not provided or is not readable. 
  • If this is a new build or extensively remodeled facility, and plans have been submitted, a letter will be mailed and/or emailed to the operator to indicate approval or denial of the submitted plans.  Be sure to include a valid email address on your application to avoid delays.
  • If the pre-operational inspection is in compliance with current food code requirements, your inspection report will give you the approval to operate.  You can then expect your ECDOH permit to be issued within three (3) business days.
  • If the pre-operational inspection is not satisfactory, the inspector will offer additional guidance to satisfy the code requirements and arrange for a follow-up inspection before an approval to operate is issued.

What else should I know?

  • Based on the risk assigned to your facility you can expect a minimum of one to two inspections per year.
  • Health permits are renewed annually and are due the same month in which the permit was issued.
  • Permits are not transferable. If your facility changes ownership, the new owner must apply for a new permit.
  • Facilities found operating without pre-operational approval are subject to additional fines.


Environmental Health Division
503 Kensington Ave
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: (716) 961-6800
Fax: (716) 961-6880

03/28/2023 - 1:51 pm