A food concession stand may be an appealing option for an entrepreneur interested in a food-related opportunity. Before a business owner starts a concession stand, she must take care to research and follow the Texas and local laws intended to protect consumers through standards for licensing, inspection, food handling and consumer safety.
Texas food concessions require a state food retail license, a food handler certificate, background checks and the usual business licenses. Individual counties have their own requirements.
Retail Food License
When businesses serve food to consumers in Texas, they must usually meet the food and drug licensing standards set by the Texas Department of State Public Health. The department issues different types of licenses depending on the type of food-related business. The version of state license required for operation of a food concession stand depends on where the stand fits among the types of retail food establishments defined by the state. For example, Texas issues separate licenses for mobile food units, food stores, roadside vendors and vendors at temporary events.
Business Name, Entity and Taxpayer ID
When the owner of a concession stand applies for a retail food permit through the state of Texas, the owner must provide specific information about the business as requested by the Department of State Health Services. If the owner plans to operate the concession stand using a business name, the owner must include both the company's legal name and the name under which the company plans to do business, also known as a doing-business-as name or DBA. The owner must also identify the type of business entity under which the owner will operate the concession stand; choose from sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or other businesses entities. Furthermore, the business owner must include a taxpayer ID from a sales and use tax permit overseen by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
In addition to state law, each county has its own concession stand requirements which are usually overseen through the local department of public health or another agency. The local licensing process gets very specific on health and safety issues such as sanitation, food storage, worker safety and waste disposal rules. In San Antonio, for example, there are very specific rules regarding the size and type of vehicle used for a mobile concession, the type of cooking, freezing and storage facilities used, cold storage temperatures and cleaning standards. Food concessions must have access to fresh water which can restrict their location. The local agency usually will require that business operators participate in certified food handler training to learn proper techniques.
Local public health agencies in Texas may require background checks before workers can take jobs as food handlers and vendors at concession stands. Business owners should learn about the requirements of the counties where they plan to sell food to the public. The background check may require going to the local police department, completing the paperwork for local, state and federal criminal history checks and paying the relevant fees. Certain types of criminal history, such as a history of sexual offenses related to children, may disqualify workers from receiving local clearance to work as food handlers or vendors.