How To Open A Restaurant

Follow these guidelines to make sure your food business reaches its grand opening without delay.

How To Open A Restaurant

To start and manage a food business requires careful planning, knowledge of food safety and skillful management, in addition to an understanding of Oklahoma food laws and federal regulations. Follow these guidelines to make sure your food business reaches its grand opening without delay.

Where to Start

Contact the city or county where your food 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 plans must be submitted to the THD with the appropriate fees. The local building office may also require building plans to be submitted. Contact the local permit office on exact requirements.

Plan review application and submission guidelines

Plans submitted for THD review must include the following:

  • Plans drawn to scale
  • Complete layout of facility, including all wait stations, kitchen, food areas and restrooms
  • Equipment location and specifications (equipment types, manufacturer & model numbers, if available)
  • Plumbing location and type
  • Ventilation plans
  • Room finish schedule - finish materials and colors for floors, walls & ceilings
  • Proposed menu
  • Lighting locations and type

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

For more information, call 918-595-4300.

When To Submit Plans for Review

A license applicant or license holder shall submit to THD plans and specification for review prior to:

  1. The construction of a new food service establishment;
  2. The conversion of an existing structure for use as a food service establishment; or
  3. The remodeling of a food service establishment or a change of type of food service
 establishment or food operation.

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

Submitting an Application for Review

Plan review applications can be obtained at the THD, located at 5051 South 129th East Ave. Bring the appropriate fee, made payable to the Tulsa Health Department, along with the completed form when you deliver the plans for our review. (When a City of Tulsa Building Permit is required, the applicant should use the City Building Permit application form and make check payable to the City of Tulsa.) Check with your local permit office for cities other than Tulsa.

Be sure to provide adequate copies of the plans for review for the City or County and the THD. Two copies are needed if reviewed through THD only. Four copies are needed if reviewed through the City of Tulsa. Three copies will be needed for the City of Broken Arrow. For other cities outside those city limits, call your city for specifics. Additional copies may be necessary if a building permit is required.

The review time should take approximately seven days. A copy of the plans, including any necessary changes, will be returned to the operator prior to construction and must be kept on the premise until final inspection is completed. Plans should be followed and any changes must be cleared through the THD.

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

Building Permit Information

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 Food Code of Tulsa, particularly for more details in any areas in which you have questions. In addition, you should 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


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 premise at work.

View class information.

Manager Certification 

The cities of Tulsa and Bixby require manager certification at all facilities. However, due to the potential for food-borne illness, all facilities in Tulsa County are strongly encouraged to employ at least one person who has taken this advanced food safety class.

View manager certification information.

Food Code Basics

Check with your local city to find out the Food Code details or view the Oklahoma Food Code here.


Within Tulsa County, state and city food 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.

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.

CITY - Tulsa, Broken Arrow and Bixby require a City Food License. Tulsa and Bixby fees are $145 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. 

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