Initial License Inspections
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Any business filing an application for a liquor license is required to pass inspections from several city departments prior to obtaining a license. Once an application is filed for a liquor license, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will schedule your business establishment for inspection. The Departments of Health, Fire and Buildings will determine if a business establishment meets the requirements of the applicable section of the municipal code. If your establishment does not pass the first inspection, you may resolve any outstanding issues and schedule a re-inspection.
You may check the status of an inspection online or contact your liquor license case manager.
Health (Food Protection)
The Food Protection Division of the Chicago Department of Public Health inspects your facility to promote public health in areas of food safety and sanitation to prevent the occurrence of food-borne illness. Inspections focus on food handling practices, product temperatures, personal hygiene, facility maintenance, and pest control. If your liquor establishment sells food, a Food Service Sanitation Manager must be on duty at the time of inspection (managers must take and pass an approved course). For further information visit the Chicago Department of Health online or call them at 312.747.9884.
Fire inspectors will visit your establishment and check for safety measures. Their primary concern is verifying that you have proper exit structures in case of emergency. They will verify that stairs, chimney, heating, and duct systems are in good condition. Aisles and exits must be easily accessible. Properly working fire extinguishers are necessary. An occupancy card must be posted if a room capacity exceeds 100 persons.
Department of Buildings
Building Inspectors will be concerned with many of the structures (i.e. exits and stairways) that the Fire Department inspects, but for different reasons. While the Fire Department ensures that your building is fire resistant and easy to evacuate in case of emergency, the Department of Buildings ensures that structures are sound for use. Accessible exits and stairways with clear signs and sound exterior are some examples. The building inspector will also look at electrical components and emergency lighting. Adequate ventilation must be supplied and plumbing must be up to code. Please visit the Department of Buildings website to view inspection information.
Once you have obtained a license, the City will periodically inspect your establishment. Your establishment may be subject to the following types of inspections:
Scheduled Annual Inspections for Eating Establishments
The Department of Buildings will conduct annual inspections for business that hold a Retail Food Establishment License and are registered as Restaurant Taxpayers (primarily classic restaurants). Businesses are given 4 weeks notice and can confirm the inspection online or by phone. Inspections are typically completed during the non-peak hours of 9:00 - 11:00 am and 1:00 - 3:00 pm.
Inspection fees are based on the square footage of your business location and will be billed with your annual license renewal. In order to renew your business license, you must submit your license fees and your inspection fees.
Public Place of Amusement License (PPA) Inspections
Businesses holding a Public Place of Amusement License are required to pass an annual inspection by the Department of Buildings. PPA licenses will not be renewed until your establishment has passed inspection. The Department of Buildings will contact you to schedule the inspection of your licensed PPA establishment. The PPA License inspection fees are based on the square footage of your business and will be billed separately from your renewal fees.
The Departments of Health and Fire will conduct random unannounced inspections to all establishments that offer food. The Dumpster Task force also conducts unannounced inspections. In addition, all city departments will respond to public complaints and these inspections will be unannounced.