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How to Open a Restaurant​

Providing a roadmap to prospective restaurateurs, this resource takes you through every step of the journey, from understanding local ordinances to employee permits and managerial certifications.


Where to Start

Contact the city or county where your business will be located and inquire about the following ordinances, requirements and permits:

  • Zoning Building (including plumbing, electrical and mechanical)
  • Fire
  • Tulsa Health Department (THD)
Plan Overview

Building and construction plans must be submitted to THD for review prior to opening. The local building office may also require building plans to be submitted. Contact the local code/permit office on exact requirements.

Plan Review Process Flow Chart

When to Submit Plans for Review

Properly prepared plans and specifications must be submitted for review and approval when:

  • New establishments are constructed; or
  • An existing structure is converted into a food establishment; or
  • Establishments are remodeled, or changes are made to the food operation and type of food service provided; or
  • Food inspector determines plan submission is necessary to ensure compliance with Oklahoma Food Establishment Regulations.

Plan reviews are also required to be submitted on mobile food establishments.

Even though a Building Permit may not be required by your city, plans may still need to be submitted to the Tulsa Health Department.  Please call if you have any questions or concerns regarding submission.

Plan Review Application Exceptions(s): Mobile and seasonal food establishments selling only prepackaged foods and not engaging in food preparation operations are not required to submit a plan review application or pay review fee.

What to Submit

When submitting plan specifications, only include information applicable to all food and beverage preparation, cleaning and service areas, employee restrooms, and storage areas. Plans must be drawn to scale and include:

  • Menu with general description of food and/or drink items to be stored, prepared or served.
  • Complete layout of the establishment, including all wait stations, bars, food preparation areas, dish wash areas, customer self-service areas, and restrooms.
  • Equipment layout and identification with equipment types, manufacturer & model numbers, if available.
  • Plumbing layout that shows locations of all sinks, dish machines, hot water tanks floor drains/sinks, trough drains, hub drains, and grease trap locations. Also indicate wastewater connection type for each fixture with direction of waste flow.
  • Complete finish schedule (walls, ceilings, and floor) that details materials used in all food or beverage areas, and restrooms to include colors of walls and ceilings.
  • Mechanical plan (restroom exhaust, kitchen and/or dish machine ventilation hoods). If facility will have a smoke room, additional structural and HVAC information will be needed.
  • Lighting plan that includes fixture types and locations.
  • Additional exterior information - dumpster location, wells, septic system, lateral line layout.
  • Standard operating procedures to ensure compliance with Food Code requirements.
  • Mobile plan applications must include commissary location and purpose of use (commissary name and address), wastewater disposal location, and restroom agreement (if applicable).

Seasonal establishments and mobiles selling only prepackaged foods and not engaging in food preparation operations are exempt from Plan Review Application and fees. 

For additional details, refer to the food establishment construction guide.

The review and turnaround time should be within fourteen (14) business days.

Failure to provide complete plan information may extend the review time.

For any additional questions or assistance, please call Tulsa Health Department Food Protection Service Programs at 918-595-4300 and ask to speak with the Plan Review Coordinator.

Submitting an Application for Review

Plans and applications can be submitted digitally or as hardcopies.

Digital Submission

Electronically submitted plan documents must be submitted in PDF format. Each sheet must illustrate a typical graphic scale. If more than one scale is used on a sheet, an independent graphic scale must accompany applicable layout detail. All plans must be drawn to scale. The plan documents should be submitted as one file and include an index sheet. PDF plan drawings with a written review summarizing any necessary changes, will be returned to the submitter.

Required documents needed for digital submission:

Documents needed prior to licensure (can be submitted during licensing inspection):

  • Copy of Certificate of Incorporation if owned by LLC, INC, etc.
  • Copy of Oklahoma Sales Tax Permit
  • Mobile Commissary Agreement (if applicable)

Click here for Application and Payment for Digital Submission

Hardcopy Submission

Submitter hand-delivers plan documents or sends to our office by courier. Plan application, finish schedule document, plan review questionnaire, along with establishment plans must be submitted with the appropriate fee, made payable to the Tulsa Health Department. Three complete sets of plans need to be submitted for City of Broken Arrow projects (two copies will be returned after THD review which will then need to be taken to the City of Broken Arrow). Two complete sets of plans are needed for all other Tulsa County jurisdictions.

Regardless of submission process, the review turn-around time should take approximately fourteen (14) business days.  Please review all Tulsa Health Department (THD) review notes prior to construction. The THD reviewed plan documents should be referred to and maintained on site until the final inspection is conducted. Any redraws or changes made to project drawings after THD approval must also be reviewed and approved.

For questions regarding food establishment plans, please call 918-595-4300.

Food Establishment Construction Guide

A construction guide exists to help you plan your facility according to codes and requirements. This construction guide is to be used in conjunction with the Food Code. It should not be considered all-inclusive. As a responsible food establishment operator, you should study the Oklahoma Food Code for more details in any areas which you have questions. You should also contact your local building code official, local fire department, the State Fire Marshall's office, or the state Occupational Licensing office for further requirements throughout your building planning process.

For specific details, refer to the food establishment construction guide.

Resources After Opening a Facility

At THD, we work together with the food service industry to help ensure safe dining experiences for a healthier community. Our professional staff is here to help with education and to answer your questions about safe food handling and Food Code regulations.

View recent issues of Food Focus, THD's helpful newsletter for food service establishment managers and employees. Note: Information in the latest Food Focus issues replaces information in previous issues.

Food Safety Posters, available in three languages

Self-Monitor Forms, available in three languages

Emergency Action Plan for Retail Food Establishments PDF | DOC

OSDH Establishment License Renewals – Online Payments

Other Requirements

Taxpayer ID and Permits - contact the Oklahoma Tax Commission for Taxpayer ID number and Sales Tax Permits. The Sales Tax Permit should be available to THD personnel at the time operational applications are issued.

Liquor Licenses - contact the ABLE commission.

Food Employee Permits

All employees must have a valid food employee permit on the premise when at work. Copies are not accepted by Health Department staff.

View class information.

Manager Certification

Tulsa Health Department manager certificate registration is required in the following cities: Tulsa, Bixby, Broken Arrow and Sand Springs. Due to the risks associated with foodborne illness, all Tulsa County food establishments that serve Time-Temperature Control for Safety foods are encouraged to employ at least one certified manager to oversee food safety practices.

View manager certification information.


Within Tulsa County, state and city food and beverage license applications are obtained through the THD by calling (918) 595-4300 to schedule an inspection. A facility must have its sales tax permit onsite for license applications to be issued. When calling to schedule appointments, please plan at least one week in advance.

Steps to Open a Food Establishment

STATE - All facilities in Oklahoma must purchase a State of Oklahoma Food Service License. Click here for a list of fees, based on the facility type and whether your facility is new or you need to renew the license. OSDH Establishment License Renewals – Online Payments

CITY - Tulsa, Broken Arrow and Bixby require a City Food License. Tulsa and Bixby fees are $155 each plus a $5 processing fee. Broken Arrow fees are based on number of employees and can be found below. Broken Arrow also adds a $5 processing fee. (No processing fee applicable with renewal licensing).

Broken Arrow

  • 1-3 employees $50
  • 4-10 employees $80
  • 11-25 employees $115
  • 26-40 employees $185
  • 41-60 employees $250
  • 61+ employees $315

CBD and Medical Marijuana Food License

As a requirement under existing state law, it is essential that current businesses manufacturing or selling food products infused with or containing CBD and/or medical marijuana obtain their food licenses. Based on current definition in state statute and recent reports by consumers, many of these new CBD and medical marijuana products being purchased are recognized as food.

Examples of commonly available products which are considered food under Oklahoma law include, but are not limited to:

  • Flavored tinctures or oils placed in the mouth or in other food.
  • Assorted types of baked goods, candies or chewing gum.
  • Infused honey
  • Infused bottled water
  • Other pre-packaged food products.

Existing licensing requirements are established to ensure proper processing and manufacturing practices are followed and that safe and sanitary practices are used in the production, preparation, and handling of food products. If businesses are not manufacturing or selling food products, a food license is not required.

The initial startup cost will include an Oklahoma State Department of Health $425 plan review application fee and a $425 initial food license fee. Thereafter, state food licenses are renewed annually at $335. Depending on location, additional city license fees may also be applicable.  In Tulsa County, plan review applications, state and city food and beverage license applications are obtained through THD.  Call Food Protection Services at (918) 595-4300 for more information.

For additional information regarding the food licensure process and requirements, visit OSDH's Consumer Health Services website or email the OSDH Consumer Health Service at


We have 10 locations across Tulsa County that offer a variety of services to help you and your family stay healthy.

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