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Mobile Food Units and Pushcarts

How do I get a permit to sell food from a pushcart or mobile food unit?

In order to get an operating permit for a pushcart or mobile food unit, you must first find a permitted restaurant or commissary from which to operate.

  • The Health Department will have to approve your operation from this facility. You will have to report there every day that you operate, whether in this county or another, for cleaning, servicing of your unit, and supplies.
  • If you are buying or constructing a new pushcart or mobile food unit, you will have to submit plans and specifications for your unit to the Health Department for review and approval.
  • There is no "grandfather clause" for used units or equipment. If you are considering purchasing previously owned units or equipment, it is strongly recommended that you contact one of the Health Department first to determine if it meets current specifications and will be approved.
  • Finally, once your plans have been approved and your unit is ready for use, you must arrange to meet with a Health Department representative on site at your commissary with your unit for inspection and permitting. The unit must be fully functional with all systems operating before you can get your permit.
  • The permit must be displayed on your unit at all times.
  • You must also provide this department with a list of locations where you will be operating. This list must be kept current. If you operate outside of Mecklenburg County you must notify the Health Department in that county and provide them with a list of locations. You will not need a permit from them, but you must notify them and continue to report to your commissary daily.

Can I operate my unit from my home?

You cannot operate your unit from any place other than a commercially operating restaurant or commissary. In no case may you commissary from your home.

In addition, no home made baked goods (such as cakes or cookies), or any other home made food, can be served from the unit.

I want to cook food on a grill. How can I do this?

  • The only food item that can be prepared on an open-air grill is a hot dog from a pushcart. Even this must be protected from contamination on the top and sides.
  • Any other food items must be prepared inside of a mobile food unit. This is a self-contained unit with floors, walls and ceiling, sinks and commercial equipment.

Can I let customers fix their own food off of my unit?

No. The only customer self-service allowed would be condiments, such as catsup and mustard from squeeze or pump bottles or individually packaged condiments.

Can I use coolers with my unit?

No. Coolers can only be used for ice for drinks, canned or bottled beverages, or to transport food to the unit. Once the unit is set up all food must be stored on the unit.

Can I provide seats for my customers?

No.  Providing is prohibited.

The only customer self-service allowed would be condiments, such as catsup and mustard from squeeze or pump bottles or individually packaged condiments. No. Coolers can only be used for ice for drinks, canned or bottled beverages, or to transport food to the unit. Once the unit is set up all food must be stored on the unit. No.  Providing is prohibited.



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