Food Service Establishments

Licensing and Inspection


The Department of Public Health and Environment licenses and inspects food service establishments. The regulations are outlined in the Washington County Food Ordinance and the Minnesota Food Code. Grocery stores, convenience stores, bakeries, meat processing, and candy-making businesses are regulated by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Apply for a License


There are different steps for applicants depending on what type of establishment/event for which you are applying: existing establishment, new establishment or a special event.

Existing Establishments


Food service establishment licenses are not transferable to person or place. A change of ownership inspection must be conducted prior to the closing date of the sale and a new license must be obtained before you begin operation of the business.
  • Print and complete License Application
  • Submit application, applicable license fee and a copy of the proposed menu to the department
  • Contact department for an inspection and obtain license prior to operation of restaurant.

New Establishment


Print and complete the Plan Review Application. A complete set of plans must be submitted 30 days before construction begins; view the construction guide. Plans must include the following:
  • Blueprints of the establishment, including an equipment layout with equipment identification
  • Equipment specifications
  • Proposed menu
  • Room and area finish schedule for walls, floors, and ceilings
  • One set of elevations and shop drawings for all custom equipment and cabinets
Submit application and applicable license fee to the department.

Special Event


  • Read the Special Event Standards.
  • Print and complete the Special Event Food Stand License Application.
  • Submit the application and applicable license fee to the department. A late fee of $10 must be paid if the application is received less than 14 calendar days but more than two calendar days before the event. A $30 late fee must be paid if the application is received two calendar days or less before the event.
  • Effective May 1, 2014 the fee for a non-profit organization to apply for and obtain a Special Event Food Stand License will be waived. Proof of non-profit status is required. A completed application must be submitted at least 14 calendar days prior to the event otherwise penalty fees for late applications will apply. Application approval and a posted license are still required for non-profit establishments.

Report a Concern


To report a concern or complaint about a food service establishment, go to Report a Concern and submit the information. Your report will go directly to the department for follow-up.

If you suspect that you have become ill from food, call the department or go to Report Your Concern. You can also report through the Minnesota Department of Health Foodborne Illness Hotline at 1-877-FOOD-ILL (1-877-366-3455).