Restaurant Construction Checklist

04/14/2014   by Hammers Construction

Construction of a restaurant flows through a number of phases before the final result is visible. They include: Project planning, designing the space, construction and post construction phases.

Creating a checklist for opening a restaurant is a helpful tool in the Planning phase.

A checklist can help you identify areas you haven’t covered, make sure you’ve completed items you need to check off and ensure you’re ready when you open the doors.

Construction Phase


If you are going to build or remodel a restaurant, your general contractor will need a set of scaled construction documents, often called “working drawings”. These documents can be drawn on a CAD system or by hand and consist of space plans, elevations, schedules and details. These drawings are generally prepared by several design consultants and engineers, integrated into one set for submittal to your local building and health department.

Restaurant Construction Drawing Document

You will need to carry out a survey to find out if there has been previously a restaurant in the space to which you are about to start construction; verify that the zoning for the property will allow a restaurant and that all parking requirements have been met.

You should also submit menu and floor plan to confirm that the existing grease trap is compliant for your operation. All your plans, drawings and specifications should be in compliance with the building and health codes that are applicable to your location.

Your drawings, plans, equipment and finish specifications should be approved by the following regulatory agencies:

  • County Health Department
  • Dept. of Building and Safety
  • Fire Marshall

Be sure you hire a licensed general contractor who has good references and has experience in building restaurants. When hiring a general contractor, also make sure the contractor provides you with certificates of insurance for Workman’s Compensation and General Liability (photocopies should not be accepted. Ask the contractor to have their insurance agent send them directly to you).

General Requirements

  • Apply for a business license and a fictitious business name.
  • Apply for an ABC license.
  • Get a Federal Employer ID number
  • Apply for a Health Operational Permit. (No blueprints are required for the operational permit. Just file an application and pay for the fees)
  • Contractor confirms the source for accounting service. (Most restaurant owners report their gross income monthly to their accountants to ensure a more accurate report at the end of the year. There are also property tax and license tax that need to be considered.)
  • Open a business bank account that will also handle employee checks and income tax calculation.
  • Find a good insurance package for your venue.
  • Obtain worker’s compensation insurance for your employees.
  • Call the telephone company to confirm type of service and date to start the phone line.
  • Find vendors for your Point of Sales system
  • Open a merchant and credit card account
  • Start interviewing and hiring your staff.
  • Conduct employee training.
  • Find vendors for uniform rental.
  • Contract a design firm to design logos, menus, business cards, and most importantly, a website for your future restaurant.
  • Contract a sign company to fabricate the store front sign for you. Make sure your vendor is capable of designing the signage to code and make sure that he pulls a permit for the signage.

Construction Details Checklist


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  • Walls in food preparation areas, areas of splash, and toilet rooms shall be finished with a glazed, washable surface to at least the level of splash.
  • Walls in other areas shall be smooth, easily cleanable and in good repair, free of cracks or holes.
  • Walls in food preparation areas shall be of a light color.
  • Finishes on walls in areas of specialized use will be required to be appropriate for the use intended and with such restrictions as may be necessary for cleaning or maintenance.


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  • Floors in food preparation and service areas, toilet rooms, janitor closets  with sinks, or any other areas subject to splash or spillage shall be of a  smooth, non-absorbent construction and easily cleanable.
  • Carpeting, where approved, shall be so constructed as to be easily  cleaned and maintained.
  • Utility service lines, pipes, or other similar construction shall be elevated  above floor level to facilitate cleaning.


Ceilings and upper walls in food preparation, storage, and display areas shall be of smooth, easily cleanable construction, finished in a light color, and non-absorbent.


Electric supply

Electrical power shall be supplied at all times to operate the food facility. All electrical features and accessories shall be installed in compliance with the applicable local electrical ordinances. (Generators will only be allowed as a backup power source in the event of an emergency, i.e. power outage).


Light bulbs shall be shielded, coated, or otherwise shatter-resistant in areas where there are non-prepackaged, ready-to-eat foods, clean equipment, utensils, and linens, or unwrapped single-use articles.


  • At least 10 food candles (110lux) at a distance of 30 inches (75 cm) above the floor, in walk-in refrigeration units and dry food storage areas and in other areas and rooms during periods of cleaning;
  • At least 20 food candles (220lux):
    • At a surface where food is provided for consumer self-service such as  buffets and salad bars or where fresh produce or packaged foods are sold or offered for consumption;
    • Inside equipment such as reach-in and under-counter refrigerators;
    • At a distance of 30 inches (75 cm) above the floor in areas used for hand washing, ware washing, and equipment and utensil storage, and in toilet rooms; and
  • At least 50 food candles (540 lux) at a surface where a food employee is working with food or working with utensils or equipment such as knives,  slicers, grinders, or saws where employee safety is a factor.


  • Reach-In Refrigeration: Reach in refrigerators shall either be self-contained or drained indirectly to a floor sink. Refrigeration units shall be provided with an accurate, readily visible thermometer, have shelving that is nonabsorbent, non-corrodible, easily cleanable, and shall meet all applicable standards. Wood is not an acceptable structural material finish of the refrigeration unit.
  • Walk-In Refrigeration: Walk-in refrigerators shall have a well-fitted door, shall open into an approved area of the food facility, shall be constructed flush with the floor; coved base shall be provided at the intersection of floors and walls with a minimum 3/8” radius and 4” height; be flashed or sealed to walls and/or ceiling as needed to prevent rodent and vermin harborage; have non-corrodible shelving that is at least six (6) inches above the floor; shall be certified or classified for sanitation to applicable standards. Wood is not acceptable. Diamond plated floor is not acceptable unless a trench drain is provided just outside the walk-in refrigeration door, the walk-in floor slopes 1:50 towards the trench drain and a power wash spray method of cleaning is provided. Condensate from refrigeration units shall be drained in a sanitary manner to a floor sink, or other approved device by an indirect connection. Plumbing waste receptors, including floor drains, floor sinks, and evaporators are to be located outside of refrigeration units.



All rooms shall be sufficiently ventilated so as to be free from excessive heat, steam, condensation, vapors, obnoxious odors, smoke and fumes. Where ventilation for these conditions is necessary, it shall be mechanically vented directly to the outside. Keep the following in mind for ventilation over cooking equipment:

  • Such ventilation shall include a hood with a minimum overhang of nine inches
  • Hoods shall be equipped with removable metal grease filters and effective ventilating fans and exhausted to the outside air.
  • Updraft systems are acceptable.
  • Hoods shall be provided with lighting where necessary and such lighting shall be shielded or of an approved safety type.

Plumbing and gas

All plumbing, plumbing fixtures, gas lines and gas operated equipment shall be installed in compliance with local plumbing ordinances. They shall be maintained so as to prevent any contamination; shall be kept clean; shall be fully operative, and shall be in good repair. All liquid wastes shall be disposed of through the plumbing system which shall discharge into the public sewerage or into an approved private sewage disposal system.

Toilet facilities

The building official shall make the determination as to the number of restrooms and handicap designation. Toilet facilities (at least one separate toilet facility for men and one separate toilet facility for women) in good repair shall be provided for customers.

  • Toilet room doors and vestibule doors shall be self-closing.
  • Convenient hand washing facilities are to be provided for all toilet rooms.
  • All toilet rooms are to be vented to the outside unless a window is provided.
  • Toilet rooms shall be provided with at least one waste receptacle. Toilet rooms for women shall have at least one covered waste receptacle.
  • Customer toilet rooms shall be located so as to permit access by customers without passing through areas where food is prepared, stored, or where utensils are washed or stored.
  • Restaurants serving alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption shall provide toilet facilities for customers.

External openings

  • All outer openings to food establishments shall be effectively screened or provided with other effective approved means to prevent entry into the establishment by flies, other insects, rodents and birds.
  • Screen doors shall open outward and shall be self-closing.
  • Establishments shall be so constructed and maintained as to prevent entry of vermin, such as rodents, flies and other insects.

Storage of personal articles

  • All storage is to be elevated from the floor 6 inches to permit cleaning and inspection for evidence of vermin.
  • Poisonous materials shall be stored separately so as to minimize accidental usage and shall be stored in such a manner as not to provide a potential for contamination of food supplies, utensils, or equipment.  Closed cabinets are recommended for poisonous storage. Such enclosures should be clearly marked as to the nature of the contents.


Equipment shall be of an approved type as to function, of approved design for cleaning and maintenance, and in good repair.

Final Approval Requirements

  • Once plans are approved by the Health Department, obtain all necessary permits and approvals from the local building department and all applicable agencies prior to construction.
  • Any changes to approved Health Department plans must be brought to your Plan Checkers attention.
  • All construction and equipment installation is subject to on-site inspections. During the course of construction, and particularly before you plan to open, you are advised to call if you should have any questions.
  • Prior to calling for a final inspection and issuance of your Public Health Operating Permit, the local building department as well as any other applicable local authorities must have given final approvals regarding construction completion.
  • Final inspection, on-site approval, and issuance of a Public Health Operating Permit are required before opening the restaurant. The inspector requires at least three (3) working days advance notice to schedule a final inspection.
  • On-site approval is required before stocking food on the premises.

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Hammers Construction is a commercial construction company in Colorado Springs with 25 years experience in commercial design-build construction.
Steve Hammers
1411 Woolsey Heights
Colorado Springs
United States
Phone: 719-570-1599 URL of Map