Thinking of Starting a Restaurant?

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


Where do I start?

Contact the city and 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 safety & regulations
  • Permits through the Gallatin City-County Health Department (GCCHD)


What is required in the application?

Building plans must be submitted to GCCHD with the appropriate fees. The local building office may also require that building plans be submitted. Contact the local building department on exact requirements.

Plan review application and submission guidelines.

Plans submitted 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 Plan review application.

For more information, call 406.582.3120.


Where are the rules?

View the Montana Food Code here.  Also, GCCHD has additional rules that may be found here.


When should I submit my plans?

A license applicant or license holder must submit 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
  3. The remodeling of a food service establishment
  4. Ownership change


How do I submit my plans?

Plan review applications can be obtained at GCCHD, located at 215 West Mendenhall or online at Bring the appropriate fee, made payable to the Gallatin City-County Health Department, along with the completed form when you deliver the plans for our review. Check with your local city building department for information regarding any building permits that you may need.

The review time may take up to 30 days, so it is important to submit your plans as soon as possible to avoid any delays. Plans must be followed as submitted and any changes must be cleared through by GCCHD.

For questions regarding food establishment plans, please call 406.582.3120.


Manager Certification 

The Gallatin City-County Health Department’s Health Code Chapter 2 requires that at least one employee possess a valid 8-hour manager’s food safety certification for restaurants holding a license for more than two employees. However, due to the potential for food-borne illness, all facilities in Gallatin County are strongly encouraged to employ at least one person who has taken this advanced food safety class.  Any class that is nationally accredited, 8 hours (minimum) in duration, and followed by a proctored exam will qualify.


What else should I know?

Here at the GCCHD 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.  We also offer 4 hour food safety classes (these do not satisfy the education requirement) and volunteer trainings throughout the year.  We feel that it is important to build relationships with the community members built on trust and understanding and do our best to work with operators to achieve common goals.

Moral of the story, call us if you have questions—we are here to help!

For questions, please call 406.582.3120.