Types of food businesses

We define and list the types of food businesses we inspect.

Types of food businesses


A food business stores, prepares, packages, serves, or provides food for people to eat. A food business may also directly or indirectly deliver food, such as home grocery delivery or a restaurant takeout order.

A food business may be a:

  • Restaurant
  • Grocery, market or convenience store
  • Food stand or food truck
  • School or institution
  • Hotel
  • Vending machine 
  • Retail bakery

For more about food business definitions, please review License and Consumer Services Food Related License Definitions.


A restaurant prepares or provides service, food, and beverages to customers for more than 21 days a year. A restaurant has 13 or more seats. A food manufacturer has 12 or few seats.

Examples of businesses needing a restaurant license: 

  • Coffee shops
  • Delicatessens
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Sit-down restaurants

Confectionary business

A confectionary business sells ready-to-eat snacks and beverages such as

  • Chips, crackers or popcorn
  • Cookies and bulk candy
  • Soda, milk or juice
  • Ice cream and donuts
  • TV dinners
  • Cheese

Confectionary licenses are often held by businesses that serve another purpose, for example

  • Hardware stores
  • Gas stations and car washes
  • Dollar stores
  • Tobacco shops or video stores
  • Offices

If the business has a hand sink and 3-compartment sink for washing utensils and equipment, they can sell self-serve coffee and pastries. A commercial-grade microwave may be available for customers to heat their food. 

Potentially hazardous foods should always be stored and displayed in approved commercial equipment. 

Grocery store

A grocery store sells food and food accessories for people to use, make, or eat at home. This may include

  • Meat, poultry, or fish
  • Bread or baked items
  • Cereal and other dry goods
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Juices
  • Dairy products

Some grocery stores also sell household items. 

Grocery truck

A truck selling groceries, meats, and miscellaneous goods in parking lots near commercial, industrial, or high-density residential properties. 

Institutional food

An institutional food license is required when you are serving meals in a group setting.

  • Charitable dining halls
  • Child care centers
  • Public and private schools
  • Senior Independent Living facilities
  • Hospital cafeterias

An institutional food license is not required for:

  • Home-based daycare centers
  • Lodging facilities with a city license
  • Group homes, nursing homes, or veteran homes licensed by the county, state or federal government

Farmers market

A market where growers can sell their goods directly to the consumer.

Food carts

A food cart is a non-motorized vehicle selling prepackaged or ready-to-eat foods. All food carts must be meet Minnesota Food Code requirements.

  • Indoor food cart- Operates on private property.
  • Kiosk food cart - Operates on private property and has plumbing. Items for sale are limited to espresso-type drinks and other Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods.
  • Sidewalk food cart - Operates on city sidewalks or private property. Locations must be pre-approved.

Food truck (Mobile food vendor)

A food truck prepares and/or serves food from a motorized vehicle or a trailer, curbside or on private property, that can be easily moved to another location.

Food preparation and storing must occur at a licensed commercial kitchen.

Licenses are available to non-profit organizations for a discounted fee.

You do not need a separate license to operate at events such as farmers markets or block events but you must have written permission from the event organizer.  

Short term food vendor

A food and beverage vendor with a food stand that is disassembled and moved from location to location. A Short term food vendor operates no more than 10 days annually at any one civic event.

Seasonal food vendor

A vendor who sells food and beverages at multiple community events throughout the year. A maximum of two stands can operate for each permit. 

Vending machines

Vending machines provide prepackaged food, snacks and/or beverages after inserting a coin, bill, or credit card. 

Bottled and canned soda machines do not need a license. 

Anyone with a food license is entitled to two free vending machines at their business.

All vending machines must be licensed and must comply with applicable rules and regulations of the:

  • National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA)
  • National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF)
  • State of Minnesota rules

See Minnesota Administrative Rules, 1550.3200 to 1550.3320

Contact us

Health Department

Environmental Health




Public Service Center
505 Fourth Ave S, Room 520
Minneapolis, MN 55415