Starting a restaurant in New York involves significant consideration of New York state and local health and safety regulations. Because restaurants and eateries are all about serving food, New York subjects restaurants to significant regulations regarding food health and safety. The New York State Department of Health has many regulations for food service establishments, including coverage of:
- employee cleanliness issues;
- employee hand washing and food handling;
- employee health issues, such as prohibition from working if they have certain illnesses;
- washing of fruits and vegetables;
- reheating and thawing food;
- cleaning and sanitizing utensils; and
- garbage storage and disposal.
In addition, if your restaurant is in New York City, there are additional handbooks containing local guidelines that you must follow, including how to obtain a New York City Food Handler’s License. New York City takes health inspections seriously, requiring restaurants to post health grades in their front doors and windows.
The Federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) also has regulations relating to eye and face protection, hand protection, and workplace facilities.
With the above New York regulations in mind, you can expect regular inspections from your local health department, sometimes without notice. Health inspectors, especially in New York City, generally have a lot of latitude regarding what they can inspect, and health department inspections can cover a wide array of items in your restaurant. Inspectors can examine the food itself, food storage, cleaning stations, cooking equipment, facilities, building structure, and look for signs of insect and vermin infestation. The penalties for failing such inspections can be high fines and penalties, and even the shuttering of your New York restaurant.
Moreover, the stigma that follows with health inspection issues and failures will damage any good will your New York restaurant has created in the local community.