Operating a Food Service Establishment

Food Service Plan Review

A food service plan review is required for all restaurants and food stands involving new or remodeled construction. Plans are reviewed using the North Carolina Food Code and the Rules Governing the Food Protection and Sanitation of Food Establishments (NCAC 18A .2600). The rules can be accessed online (Environmental Health Section). A completed application, $250 plan review fee, legible floor plan drawing to scale, complete menu, and manufacturer’s specification sheets on all equipment must be submitted to the Cherokee County Environmental Health Department before plans can be reviewed.

Plans are reviewed on a first come, first serve basis and the Department will contact you when the review is complete. Upon approval of your plans, you will be given a “Letter of Approval” by the Department. This “Letter of Approval” will need to be submitted to the Cherokee County Building Department in order to obtain your building permits to begin construction. Building permits cannot be obtained until plan review approval is granted by the Health Department.

Well/Septic Permits

If your food service establishment is not on municipal water and/or sewer, you will need to obtain a well permit and septic permit from the Environmental Health Department. Well and septic approval should be completed first before proceeding with any other plans for your food service establishment.

Food Service Equipment

All food service equipment, except for microwaves, mixers, and toasters, used for restaurants, food stands, and mobile food units must be certified or classified for sanitation by an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited certification program. If the equipment is not certified or classified for sanitation the equipment shall meet Parts 4-1 and 4-2 of the Food Code. Examples of accredited education service programs are NSF, ETL (Intertek), CSA, and UL Sanitation.

All utensils and equipment, including cooler and freezer shelving units, must be commercial, durable, and constructed of non-toxic and easily cleaned materials. All equipment must have identifiable labels designating the make and model number on the equipment and all equipment must be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s intended use.

Refrigeration must be capable of holding at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or below and hot holding 135 degrees Fahrenheit or greater. However, as of January 1, 2019 cold holding minimum temperature requirements must be 41 degrees Fahrenheit and below. Existing equipment not able to maintain 41 degrees or below by this date will either have to be upgraded or replaced to meet 41 degree or below for all cold holding of potentially hazardous foods.


If you have any questions please feel free to contact Kim McClain or Sara Smith at 828-835-3853. Revised February 16, 2015.