Opening A Restaurant

Restaurant ChefOpening a restaurant is the quintessential American dream for many people. What better way to make a living than by cooking great food and serving it to the thankful masses. It does, however, take careful planning, beginning with finding the perfect location and deciding on a concept and menu to understanding all of the regulatory requirements.

The Virginia Department of Health regulates the construction and operation of food establishments. You can learn what is necessary to open a restaurant and what the health department looks for during an inspection on the Regulations page at the VDH web site.

The Virginia Department of Health’s web site also provides Food Guidance information on special situations related to Food such as:

  • Outdoor Cooking
  • Drive-through Coffee Kiosk’s
  • Mobile Food Establishments
  • Temporary Food Establishments
  • Providing Food at Fairs and Festivals

Before you sign a lease agreement or purchase contract for your restaurant location, it is important to fully understand the Virginia Health Department regulations. The menu being provided drives the Health Department requirements. There needs to be a separate space for preparing raw foods and processing the foods.  There must be a hand sink readily available in the food preparation area within 25’ of work area and it must have a least 18” space on each side to prevent splashing. There must be a dump sink for water used for mopping and cleaning separate from any other sink. Application for a permit must be submitted at least 30 days prior to planned opening.

Chesterfield County’s Health Department staff can provide guidance regarding health department requirements. Contact the Health Department at 804-748-1691 to schedule an appointment.

I want to serve alcohol at my restaurant

I want to have entertainment at my restaurant