Food Service

FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS

Can I bring my pet out to eat?

In most cases, no, pets are not allowed in restaurants under the Federal Food Code. The Town of Provincetown has allowed very limited variances to this restriction for a few restaurants that have outdoor patios. These restaurants have designated tables at which dogs are allowed to sit. Those tables must have information posted about the hazards of eating with a dog, and no restaurant staff is permitted to touch the dog.

At no time is a dog or any other pet (other than a legitimate service pet) allowed indoors at a restaurant, nor may patrons with dogs walk through an indoor area of a restaurant or bar to get to an outdoor patio.

Other pets are not allowed or covered by the dog dining variance.

Does my restaurant need a grease trap?

Yes, the Water and Sewer Board and the Board of Health require that food service establishments are connected to a grease trap.

Does my restaurant grease trap need to be pumped?

Yes, Town regulations require that a food service establishment pump its grease trap twice a year and proof of pumping must be submitted to the Licensing Department before renewal of a business license. All Town licenses expire on December 31.

Does my restaurant need a grease trap monitor?

Yes, the Water and Sewer Board requires that all food service establishments have an electronic grease monitor system that alerts the property owner that the grease trap tank needs to be pumped before the level of grease and other liquids reaches 25% capacity of the tank.

I want to start a restaurant in Provincetown, what do I need to do that?

Before starting any business that provides goods or services in Provincetown, first speak with the Licensing Agent, who can walk you through the process of becoming a new business in Provincetown.

The following answers this question only from the Health Department's perspective. You may need to have discussions with the Zoning or Historic Committees, and/or Building Department.

All restaurants in Provincetown must meet the requirements of the most current food code. In Massachusetts, it's the 1999 Federal Food Code. For ease of reading, we suggest reviewing the Massachusetts Merged Food Code, which includes state annotations to the Federal Food Code.

If you are taking over an existing restaurant that does not meet all current food code requirements, you will be responsible for bringing the establishment up to code. There is no "grandfathering" for structural or equipment food code sections.

How do I add seats to my restaurant?

The State Title 5 sanitary code (310 CMR 15) prescribes 20 gallons per day per seat for fast food seats and 35 gallons per day per seat for a full service restaurant. Existing gallons within a restaurant may be rearranged. However, adding new gallons (seats) requires an allocation from Growth Management, which might necessitate an Economic Development Permit from the Board of Selectmen.

What are the inspectors looking for when they inspect my restaurant?

Health inspections check to ensure that all aspects of your restaurant conform to the Massachusetts Merged Food Code and all other applicable codes, by-laws, and regulations. The Department suggests you review the Massachusetts Merged Food Code prior to any scheduled inspections to ensure that your operation is up to code.

When should I schedule my annual health inspection?

If it is not your first season and……you operate a seasonal restaurant, you should schedule your annual opening inspection prior to opening, after all of your refrigeration units are on and running and you are holding food.

…you operate a yearly restaurant, you should schedule your annual inspection when renewing your food service permit(s) and business license(s) with the Licensing Department prior to December 31st of each year.

If it is your first season, then you should first schedule a walk through with Health Department staff to ensure that the location meets all requirements of the Massachusetts Merged Food Code/1999 Federal Food Code, and all other applicable codes, by-laws, and regulations. After the initial walk through and any subsequent visits by the Health Department, the Health Department staff will let you know when to schedule your initial inspection.

Are there additional requirements if I serve soft serve ice cream at my establishment?

Yes, according to 105 CMR 561.000, Frozen Desserts, Frozen Dessert Mixes and Ice Cream, you must submit samples of your soft serve ice cream for monthly bacteria testing by an approved laboratory. For more information, please reference the MA Department of Public Health Food Protection Program's Memorandum on Licensing and Testing Requirements for Frozen Desserts.

SPECIAL EVENTS SERVING FOOD

Do I have to apply for a special food service permit?

If you're representing an organization holding an event which serves food to the public, you must have a special food service permit. It does not matter whether you will be charging for the food or providing it for free. You may access an application for a Special Food Service Permit (PDF) on the Licensing webpage.

FARMER'S MARKET

I want to sell at the farmer's market, what do I need to do?

The process for becoming a vendor at the Provincetown Farmer's Market depends on what you plan on selling.

If you intend on selling "agricultural products" as defined by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Food Protection Program, the steps to become a vendor at the Provincetown Farmer's Market are as follows: 

Step 1: Ensure that all products you intend to sell meet the definition of agricultural products as defined by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Food Protection Program and have been handled according to the Massachusetts Merged Food Code. Agricultural products are currently defined as:

  • Fresh Produce (fresh uncut fruits and vegetables)
  • Unprocessed honey (Raw honey as defined by the National Honey Board: Honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling or straining without added heat.)
  • Maple syrup
  • Farm fresh eggs (must be stored and maintained at 45°F (7.2°C)) 

Step 2: Contact the Farmer's Market coordinator to make arrangements to become a vendor.
Vendors offering agricultural products only do not need to apply to the Provincetown Health Department for a Special Food Service Permit.
If you plan on selling pre-packaged food items, the steps to become a vendor at the Provincetown Farmer's Market are as follows: Step 1: Ensure that the product(s) you wish to sell are allowable by Federal, State, and local codes and regulations and that you are properly licensed to sell the product(s). A good place to start is with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Food Protection Program website. You may also wish to reference the Massachusetts Merged Food Code, which includes state annotations to the Federal Food Code.
Step 2: Contact the Farmer's Market coordinator to make arrangements to become a vendor.
Step 3: Apply to the Provincetown Health Department for a Special Food Service Permit (PDF) to sell at the farmer's market. Processed foods sold at a farmer's market must be manufactured in a licensed food processing facility, a licensed food establishment, or a licensed residential kitchen. Copies of residential kitchen permits, retail food establishment permits or food manufacturing licenses where the food was prepared should be submitted to the Provincetown Health Department along with the vendor's application. There is no permit fee for participation in the farmers market.
What sort of items can be sold at a farmer's market?
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Food Protection Program has information about what is and is not allowed at farmer's markets across the state. Please refer to that Program for the most up-to-date information.
Because the Provincetown Farmer's Market operates in an open air market setting without hand washing facilities, only agricultural products and pre-packaged food items shall be offered for sale. The State defines agricultural products as:

  • Fresh Produce (fresh uncut fruits and vegetables)
  • Unprocessed honey (Raw honey as defined by the National Honey Board: Honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling or straining without added heat.)
  • Maple syrup
  • Farm fresh eggs (must be stored and maintained at 45°F (7.2°C))

FOOD TRUCKS

How do I apply for a food truck license?

Food trucks and other mobile food units (food carts, grills on the street, etc.) are not allowed in Provincetown according to the Provincetown Zoning Bylaws (PDF).