Building and Renovating Food Premises

Before you build or renovate your food premise, you must notify the City of Hamilton.  You need to contact both Public Health Services and Building and Licensing.

Public Health Services
Phone: 905-546-3570
Email: publichealth@hamilton.ca

Building
Phone: 905-546-2720
Email: building@hamilton.ca

Guidelines for building or renovating your food premise or restaurant

Food premises must follow the Ontario Food Premise Regulation for building and construction. 

Basic guidelines for renovating or building include:

  • Floor and floor-coverings must be tight, smooth and non-absorbent in the kitchen, storage area, washrooms and behind bars. Types of floors that meet this guideline include vinyl flooring and ceramic tile.
  • Carpet is only allowed in dining areas.
  • Walls and ceilings must have an easily cleanable finish.
  • Acoustic tile is not acceptable in a food preparation area.
  • A painted surface must withstand frequent cleaning.
  • Bright lights must be in kitchen, preparation and storage areas to facilitate cleaning.
  • Food preparation area lighting must meet Ontario Building Code requirements.
  • You must use protective light covers for fluorescent lights.
  • Building establishes washroom requirements.
  • Washrooms must not open directly into any food processing, preparation, handling, distribution, selling, manufacturing or serving areas.
  • You must provide single use paper towels and liquid soap in a dispenser for proper hand washing.
  • A separate hand sink must be located in each food preparation area with paper towels and liquid soap in a dispenser.
  • A three-compartment sink or an approved commercial dishwasher is required for cleaning and sanitizing multi-use utensils and dishware including forks, plates or other dishes.
  • A separate two-compartment sink is required where only single use utensils are provided for the service or sale of food.
  • If a commercial dishwasher is used, a two-compartment sink large enough to hold the largest pot or utensil should also be installed.
  • A separate mop sink is recommended.
  • All cooking equipment, dishwashing equipment and washrooms require mechanical ventilation vented to the outside.
  • Mechanical ventilation over cooking equipment must be equipped with exhaust fan, canopy and filters.
  • Building and Fire have specific requirements for ventilation that must be followed.
  • Fridges must be maintained at 4 C (40 F) or less and have accurate indicating thermometers that can be easily read.
  • Freezers must be maintained at -18 C (0 F).
  • Stainless steel or pre-finished shelves are recommended for food storage. Shelves must be at least 15 cm (6 inches) off the floor.
  • All commercial dishwashers must have accurate temperature gauges. High temperature dishwashers must attain a temperature of 82 C (180 F) in the final rinse cycle. Use approved sanitizing chemicals for low temperature dishwashers.
  • Sneeze Guards are required for salad bars, steam tables and dessert carts used in public areas.
  • If you serve bulk ice cream, provide a running dipper-well for the scoop.
  • Use metal, treated wood, concrete or similar material that can be cleaned easily for garbage storage areas to prevent insects and rodents from getting in.

All public places including restaurants and other food premises must be smoke-free under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act
All patios must be smoke-free under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act regulations

Call Building to make sure the existing private sewage disposal system is acceptable. A permit may be required for a change of use, repair or construction of a new system.

If private well water is used at the food premise, test to make sure it is safe. Bacterial levels are safe when results are Total Coliform-0 and E.coli-0.

Building provides information about the location and size requirements of a grease trap.