Food Establishment Plans and Construction


If you are a new food establishment or plan to make major alterations to an existing establishment, you will need to submit a food service establishment plan.

All food establishments that plan to sell prepared or packaged foods need a food establishment license from Arlington County. Licenses must be renewed annually.

Submitting Plans

If your establishment is located at DCA/Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, you do not need to go through the Permit Office. Submit your Food Service Plan Review Application(PDF, 1MB) and pay the $40 plan review fee directly to the Environmental Health Program via or 2110 Washington Blvd, Suite 350, Arlington, VA 22204. The $40 plan review fee may be paid over the phone, by check, or by money order. Make checks payable to Treasurer Arlington County.

Food Service Establishment Plan

All food service establishment plans must include:

  1. Floor plan of the establishment drawn to scale.
  2. Layout of all food service equipment including preparation, storage, dish washing, service and bar area equipment, and plumbing fixtures.
  3. Complete equipment list stating manufacturer and model number of each item, and a method of identifying each item on the equipment layout.
  4. Finish schedule of floors, walls and ceilings, including type of material. In some cases, a sample finish may be required.
  5. Seating capacity and type of food service.
  6. Sample menu.

Plans must meet all the requirements of the Arlington County Code, Chapter 9.2 Food and Food Handling Code and the FDA Food Code.

Construction Guidelines for Food Service Establishments

  1. All food service and related equipment shall be NSF International approved or equivalent and in conformity with all health regulations.
  2. All food service and related equipment shall be installed in conformity with NSF standards or equivalent.
  3. All utility lines (electrical, plumbing, and mechanical ductwork systems) to be installed within all food preparation and service areas shall be concealed.
  4. An aisle space of thirty inches (30″) minimum shall be provided within all work and storage areas.
  5. Three compartment sinks are required with drainboards at each end for utensil washing purposes. These allow proper wash-rinse-sanitize procedures to be carried out to meet food code requirements.
  6. Work surfaces and preparation tables used in the preparation of open food shall be non-wood construction and N.S.F. approved or its equivalent.
  7. Ice making and ice service units: Beverage (cold-plate) cooling devices and beverage tubing may not be installed in contact with stored ice intended for drink service. Liquid waste lines may not pass through an ice machine or ice storage bin.
  8. Handwashing lavatories shall be equipped with mixing faucets for running hot and cold water and be installed within 25 feet of all food preparation, food dispensing and warewashing areas. If a handwashing lavatory is located immediately adjacent to a food preparation, food storage, or utensil storage area, a splash protection device or partition may be required.
  9. Mop sinks must be installed to dispose of wastewater. Hoses shall not be attached to any faucet unless a backflow prevention device is installed. Provide an area for proper storage of cleaning equipment. Wall mounted mop holders should be located above mop sinks to facilitate drainage.
  10. Toilet facilities shall be designed to be easily cleanable. Soap and paper towel dispensers or hand dryers should be installed at each lavatory. Restroom door shall be self-closing. Covered waste receptacles are required in women’s restrooms for sanitary product disposal.
  11. The water heater shall be sized to the maximum use demands of all plumbing facilities utilizing hot water.
  12. Walls and ceilings should be smooth, and non-absorbent, such as glossy enamel paint or F.R.P. board. Stainless steel walls are recommended behind grills and equipment that generate grease and high temperatures. Fiber backed wall materials (such as masonite) are not recommended.
  13. All exterior openings, such as doors, windows, or pipe pass-throughs, must be weather-stripped or sealed to prevent rodent or insect entry. Screens must be provided for doors and windows that open for fresh-air ventilation.
  14. Floors must be constructed of smooth, durable material such as ceramic tile, a commercial grade of vinyl tile, terrazzo, or sealed concrete. Anti-slip flooring is acceptable. Floor sinks must be installed wherever equipment discharges liquid condensate. Equipment must be properly drained to the sanitary sewer and meet city plumbing codes. Coving is required between floor and wall junctions. Carpeting is prohibited in restrooms, food preparation, food storage, and utensil washing areas.
  15. Ventilation systems may not create a public health hazard, nuisance, or unlawful discharge.
  16. Provide a minimum of 50-ft. candles of light in food preparation areas; 20-ft. candles of light at hand washing and ware washing areas, and 10-ft candles of light in storage areas.
  17. All light fixtures in areas where there is exposed food; clean equipment, utensils, and linens; or unwrapped single-service and single -use articles must be shielded by covers or otherwise shatter-resistant to prevent and contain breakage. Fluorescent lights require shields and end caps.
  18. All refrigerators, freezers, and hot-holding equipment must be provided with accurate thermometers (± 2° F). If a high temperature dishmachine is installed, a maximum registering thermometer must be provided to monitor the sanitization rinse temperature
  19. Stainless steel, Formica, heavy-duty plastics, and other corrosion resistant, non-porous materials, are excellent choices for shelving. Any exposed wooden or otherwise porous construction materials shall be sealed with polyurethane or an equivalent sealant.
  20. Provide lockers or shelving and coat racks for the storage of personal belongings such as coats, purses, uniforms, and other personal items.
  21. RPZ (reduced pressure zone) backflow protection devices must be properly installed at each water supply connection to such equipment as soda carbonator units and water cooled ice machines – consult a licensed plumber.
  22. Customer traffic may not proceed through food preparation, food dispensing and warewashing areas. Floor plan must provide for an alternative route.
  23. The hood and duct exhaust installation shall be equipped with an automatic fire extinguishing system; filters to be U.L. approved.
  24. The premises shall be mechanically ventilated summer/winter and shall provide two (2) CFM per square foot of floor area.

Certified Food Protection Manager

Before opening for business, the facility must have a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) that is present at the establishment during all hours of operation. Individuals who wish to become a CFPM must pass a nationally recognized exam. Download a list of exams and preparation courses(PDF, 156KB).