Last steps toward opening your doors
After planning and preparation, now it's time to begin the final steps to opening your restaurant. Hiring the right employees is one of the biggest factors in your success, and hiring and sustaining employees correctly – and legally – will be an ongoing responsibility. Make sure you're ready when opening day arrives.
Hire and Train Employees
You must complete federal and state employment applications and report regularly on wages and taxes. By the time you're ready to hire employees, you should already have established accounts with the state Department of Revenue, the state Department of Labor and Industries, Employment Security Department, and the Office of the Secretary of State (unless you're a sole proprietor).
- Washington State Food Worker Cards - All employees of a food establishment, including cooks, bartenders, servers, hosts, bus persons, etc., are required to obtain a Food Worker Card. The class and test are available online or in-person at Spokane Regional Health District.
- Mandatory Alcohol Server Training - Mandatory alcohol server training is required for managers, bartenders, and other employees who serve alcohol or supervise its sale for on-premises consumption. This applies to liquor-licensed establishments like restaurants, nightclubs, taverns, and others.
- Safety and Health Training - Employers are required to provide training to employees on their accident prevention program.
Employee Safety and Wellbeing
- Employee Workplace Notices (PDF 80 KB) - Employee workplace notices are required or recommended by several state and federal agencies, and must be posted where employees can read them. Posters are available free from state and local regulatory agencies.
- Safe Workplace - Employers must have a written accident prevention program and must provide employees with a safe workplace. Labor and Industries has a Restaurant Industry Safety & Health webpage with customized information and resources to help develop a program.
- Fire Safety and Emergency Plans (PDF 84 KB) - Spokane Fire Department requires Fire Safety and Emergency Plans for restaurants, bars, and banquet halls with occupancy of 100 or more.
Final Inspections and Approvals
Final Building Inspection
Before having your final inspection and getting a Certificate of Occupancy, you must meet the following requirements:
- All land use conditions must be complete if you have a Land Use Permit.
- All alarms, sprinkler systems, pressurization and other safety systems must be approved by the Spokane Fire Department.
- Assembly Permit must be obtained from the Fire Department for restaurants with 50+ occupants.
- All work authorized by trade permits – such as electrical, plumbing, elevator, mechanical, boiler, and public right of way – must be inspected and finalized. This includes utilities like sewer and water supply provisions and backflow prevention.
- All required signage must be installed (exit, maximum occupancy, maximum storage load, address, etc.).
- All required fees must be paid, including transportation impact fees.
Get a Certificate of Occupancy
Call the Planning and Development Certificate of Occupancy Coordinator at 509.625.6300 10 days prior to your desired opening date. Get a Certificate of Occupancy after all final building, trade, and fire permit approvals are complete and in hand. If everything is in order and in compliance with approved plans, you'll receive your Certificate of Occupancy.
Spokane Regional Health District Annual Food Establishment Permit
An annual Food Establishment Permit is required from the Spokane Regional Health District's Food Safety Program after the Food Service Plan is approved and construction is complete.
Time & Cost
Annual Food Establishment Permit fees range from $120-$800 (2017 fees), depending on menu and the type of operation. The permit expiration date is 12 months from the end of the month in which the permit is issued.
Spokane Regional Health District Pre-Operational Inspection
- When construction is complete, schedule a pre-opening inspection to verify the restaurant is in compliance with the approved plans. The annual Food Establishment Permit fee must be paid prior to scheduling the pre-opening inspection. To schedule your pre-opening inspection contact the Health District at 509.324.1560, ext. 2.
- Check your plan approval letter, which may have conditions that you're required to meet before you open. These conditions will be checked during this inspection. If your establishment doesn't comply with the approved plans, you'll need to make the required changes and schedule another pre-operational inspection. The time spent on pre-operational inspections is billed at the standard hourly rate, so be sure you meet all the requirements before setting up your inspection. See New & Existing Food Establishment.
Liquor and Cannabis Board Inspection
- The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board will conduct a new liquor license technical support visit within 6 weeks of opening – but some liquor licenses may require inspection before you open your doors.
- Your local enforcement officer can help you understand liquor laws and regulation. The officer will check your required signs, answer any questions and review operations with you.
- Officers will conduct ongoing enforcement, such as compliance checks and premises visits, to ensure you're serving safely.
- You are required to post signs and licenses at your business based on your license type. These signs are available at no charge once you obtain your liquor license. Liquor and Cannabis Board enforcement officers and local law enforcement will look for these signs and licenses when visiting your business.
The information in this guide is accurate as of July 2015. Always consult with the appropriate department or agency for current requirements.