Structural rules for stalls and stations at special events

Guidelines on booth construction, washing, solid waste, and other physical requirements.

Food booth construction

Food booths need to have 4 enclosed walls, a ceiling, and floors that are easy to clean.


  • Must be durable and cleanable. We won't approve lawn, dirt, or sawdust floors.
  • Asphalt and concrete are acceptable floor surfaces for street fairs.
  • Use plywood, tarp, or something similar if you have a booth on grass or dirt.


  • Use plywood, canvas, or fish-mesh fly screening that's at least 16 mesh.
  • Construction materials must be fire resistive or flame retardant.
  • You need to have proof that the material can resist fire or slow down flames. This proof should be available for inspection at the location.
  • You can use rental booths if the Health Department approves them. The booths usually have a state decal showing they are fire-safe.

Service windows

  • Food service windows should be no more than 18 inches high and 24 inches wide.
  • To keep insects out, food service openings should have tight-fitting closures.
  • If you have a BBQ area next to your food operations, it's a good idea to have a window or door that connects them.


  • Have visible signage that displays the facility and operator name, city, state, and ZIP code.
  • The name for the food booth should be large and clear, with thick letters in a contrasting color. It should be at least 3 inches high and 3/8 inches wide. Letters and numbers for the address may not be less than 1 inch in height.
  • Nonprofit charitable booths don't have to do this.

Handwashing area

  • Set up your handwashing station before you start making food.
  • The hand wash station should have warm and cold water, soap, and one-time use towels. You can use a 5-gallon water jug with a turn valve for hands-free washing, a bucket to catch dirty water, a liquid soap pump, and one-time use towels.
  • If a wash spot is centrally located, up to 4 stalls or booths selling only prepackaged non-perishable food can share it.
  • Every stall needs its own hand wash area, separate from where you wash tools.
  • Workers must wash their hands after breaks, smoking, or using the restroom.

View more details on setting up a handwashing station.

Utensil washing station

  • Each stall must have a utensil washing area with at least 3 compartments and 2 drying areas.
  • The sink and drying spots should be big enough to fit the largest tool you need to wash.
  • Label each section: soap, rinse, and sanitize.
  • The sink should have both warm and cold water mixed together. Or if you don't have this sink, it's okay to use two 5-gallon buckets. Fill one with soapy water and the other with sanitizing water (1 tablespoon of bleach per 1 gallon of warm water).
  • Replace sanitizing solution every 4 hours or more frequently if the solution becomes cloudy.

Water supply and liquid waste

  • Your water should come from an approved source and have a device to stop it from flowing backward.
  • Every food stall needs at least 20 gallons of clean water every day for washing tools and hands.
  • Used water should go into an official sewage system or a holding tank, not onto the ground.


  • At least one bathroom for every 15 workers should be no more than 200 feet away from each food booth.
  • Each bathroom needs to have warm and cold running water, liquid soap, and single-use paper towels.
  • Stalls that sell only prepackaged foods can use just cold water and germicidal soap for hand washing.

Solid waste

  • Keep trash in leak-proof containers that reduce smells and keep bugs away.
  • Consider having plastic bags in each booth.
  • Follow the health department rules for trash disposal.


  • You can barbecue outside the food stall (open air).
  • All other cooking equipment must be kept inside the stall unless the San Francisco Fire Department says otherwise.
  • You need fire department approval to use LP-Gas (butane or propane) or open flame (wood, sterno, or charcoal).
  • Put a fence around cooking spots so people can't get in.
  • Follow the fire department's rules for safely getting rid of coal and ashes.

Food-contact surfaces and equipment standards

  • Surfaces that touch food should be smooth, easy to clean, and non-absorbent (won't soak up liquids or other material).
  • Make sure the health department has approved any equipment you use for food and utensils.
  • Provide sanitizing solution to wipe all food contact surfaces during the event.
    • Sanitizing solution: 1 tablespoon of bleach per 1 gallon of warm water
    • Store wiping cloths in sanitizing solution.
    • Replace solution every 4 hours or more frequently if solution becomes cloudy.
  • Use tongs, throw-away gloves, or one-time-use tissues to handle food when you can.
  • Keep sauces and toppings clean. If customers serve themselves, either use prepackaged food condiments or approved dispensers.
  • Display and store food and utensils in a way that keeps them clean. They should be kept at least 6 inches off the ground.
  • Have a metal probe thermometer on hand that's easy to read and measures food temperature.
    • It should range from zero degrees to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Have good, shatter-proof lighting.

Employee personal storage

There must be a separate area for workers to store their personal stuff away from where food is made, dishes are washed, and food is stored.

Janitorial facilities

Have janitorial facilities for the cleaning of food booths, bathrooms, and dish and handwashing stations, with with mixed hot and cold running water.

(We may allow other types of cleaning or janitorial facilities when they are adequate.)

No live animals

Live animals or birds are not allowed within 20 feet of where food is stored or sold.

Get help

Kyle Chan

Senior Environmental Health Inspector

Aron Wong

Senior Environmental Health Inspector

Last updated April 24, 2024