Food Service Establishments
- Prevention of Wasted Food and Food Rescue Grants: These grants provide financial assistance to programs that help prevent food from being wasted and/or promote food rescue (food-to-people). Composting and food-to-animal programs are not eligible for this grant funding.
Executive Order 21-11 will begin Monday, March 15, 2021 at 12:00 pm (noon) and does not have an end date.
SummaryRestaurant and bar requirements have been updated:
- Maximum of 250 patrons inside and maximum of 250 patrons outside. Indoor occupant capacity has been increased to 75%.
- Table size is limited to no more than six people. A party of four may now be seated together at the bar or counter.
- Karaoke is now allowed. Face coverings must be worn by performers and a separation of at least 12 feet from spectators is required. See Music Activities and Performances during COVID-19 document for additional information.
- As of March 31, 2021 at 11:59 pm, some larger establishments may increase patron numbers per the Stay Safe Guidance for Entertainment and Meeting Venues.
For more detailed information please review the Food Safety Partnership Update.
Other useful information:
- BizRecycling grants available for those with financial hardship
- CDC General Food Safety & COVID-19
- Minnesota Department of Health Business & Employers
- Minnesota Department of Health General COVID-19
- Food Safety for Delivery and Pick-up Services (PDF)
- Interim Guidance for Hotel Managers and Owners (PDF)
- List of Disinfectants
- What to do if an employee has COVID-19
- Quarantine Guidance
- Close Contacts and Tracing
Licensing and InspectionThe 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.
Looking to reduce waste and save money at your establishment? Check out BizRecycling.
Apply for a License
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.
- Complete the License Application
- Submit completed license application, payment, and a copy of the proposed menu to Washington County Department of Public Health & Environment.
- Contact the Department of Public Health and Environment for an inspection and obtain license prior to operation of restaurant.
A complete set of plans must be submitted 30 days before construction begins.
- Complete the Plan Review Application
- View the Construction Guide for plan requirements
- Submit completed Plan Review Application, payment, and items specified in the construction guide to Washington County Department of Public Health & Environment.
- Complete a License Application for the establishment once plan review is complete
Mobile Food Units (MFU) and Seasonal Temporary Food Stands (STFS)Mobile Food Units and Seasonal Temporary Food Stands licensed by any agency other than Minnesota Department of Agriculture must obtain a license from Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment before operating in Washington County. If you aren’t currently licensed by another Minnesota health department contact our department before submitting an application.
- Complete the License Application
- Submit completed license application and payment to Washington County Department of Public Health & Environment.
- Contact Department of Public Health and Environment for an inspection and obtain license prior to operation.
- Note: 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.
Special EventA Special Event food stand is a food service establishment which is used in conjunction with celebrations and special events, and which operates no more than ten days each calendar year.
- Read the Special Event Standards
- Complete the Special Event Food Stand License Application
- Submit the completed application and payment to the Washington County Department of Public Health. Note: 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.
- 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.
- Events can be a ton of fun, but they can also create a ton of waste. Need help greening your event? Find resources to reduce waste and recycle more
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).