Licensing and Inspection
Pierce County Health Department
412 W Kinne Street, PO Box 238
Ellsworth, WI 54011
Building or Remodeling
Prior to building or remodeling a licensed facility in Pierce County, please contact the health department for plan review. A facility license application is required for all new establishments and available by calling the health department at 715-273-6755.
Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 254.61 - Lodging and Food Protection
Pierce County Ordinance Chapter 184 – Retail Food Establishments and Public Accommodations
Restaurants and Temporary Restaurants
A restaurant is any building, room or place where meals are prepared or served or sold to transients or the general public, and all places used in connection with it and includes any public or private school lunchroom for which food service is provided by contract. "Meals" does NOT include soft drinks, ice cream, milk, milk drinks, ices and confections. "Restaurant" does NOT include:
- Taverns that serve free lunches consisting of popcorn, cheese, crackers, pretzels, cold sausage, cured fish or bread and butter.
- Churches, religious, fraternal, youths' or patriotic organizations, service clubs and civic organizations which occasionally (three days or less per year) prepare, serve or sell meals to transients or the general public. Please call the Health Department to verify whether your organization falls into this category.
- Any public or private school lunchroom for which food service is directly provided by the school (inspections are required by the health department twice a year).
- Any bed and breakfast establishment that serves breakfasts only to its lodgers (requires inspection and B&B license).
- The serving of food or beverage through a licensed vending machine (requires inspection and vending license).
- A concession stand at a locally sponsored sporting event, such as a little league game (must be youth oriented).
- A potluck event.
"Potluck event" means an event to which all of the following apply:
Attendees of the event provide food and beverages to be shared with other attendees and consumed at the event.
No compensation is provided to any person who conducts or assists in providing the event or who provides food and beverages to be shared at the event, and no compensation is paid by any person for consumption of food or beverages at the event.
The event is sponsored by a church; religious, fraternal, youth, or patriotic organization or service club; civic organization; parent-teacher organization; senior citizen center or organization; or adult day care center (any facility that is required to hold a Pierce County restaurant license and is not one of the organizations listed above shall NOT hold potluck events).
Application and Fees
A food establishment operating from movable vehicle, push cart, trailer or boat which periodically or continuously changes location and wherein meals or lunches are prepared or sold to the consumer for immediate consumption. It does not include vehicles used for delivery of pre-ordered food prepared in a licensed food establishment, or a vehicle which is used solely to transport or deliver food or a common carrier regulated by the state or federal government, nor a movable concession stand designed to operate as a temporary restaurant or a traveling retail food establishment.
Food service that operates at a fixed location in conjunction with a single event such as a benefit, fair, carnival, circus, public exhibition, anniversary sale or occasional sales promotion. If you plan to serve food to the general public you are required to contact the health department.
Links for more information:
- National Restaurant Association Education Foundation
- Wisconsin Restaurant Association
- Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter 196 – Restaurants
- Wisconsin Food Code
- WI DHS, Food Safety & Recreational Licensing Program
- Food Code Fact Sheets
- US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Bad Bug Book – Second Edition
Vending Machines and Commissaries
Machine: Any self-service device offered for public use which, upon insertion of a coin or token, or by other means, dispenses unit servings of food or beverage either in bulk or in package, without the necessity of replenishing the device between each vending operation. Vending machine does NOT include a device which dispenses only bottled, prepackaged or canned soft drinks, a one-cent vending device, a vending machine dispensing only candy, gum, nuts, nut meats, cookies or crackers, or a vending machine dispensing only prepackaged Grade A pasteurized milk or milk products.
Commissary: Any building, room or place where food, beverage, ingredients, containers, transport equipment or supplies for vending machines are kept, handled, prepared or stored by a vending machine operator. "Vending machine commissary" does NOT mean any place at which the operator is licensed to manufacture, distribute or sell food products under ch. 97.
Vending machine & commissary licensing applications are processed through the state and then inspected by Pierce County.
Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter DHS 198 – Vending of Food
Public Swimming Pools
A public swimming pool is a pool used for wading, swimming, diving, water recreation or therapy, except a pool serving fewer than three residences such as homes or apartments that are used by the owner or persons making the property their primary residence. A public swimming pool includes a pool installed in a "place of employment", or in a "public building", and any pool used on a regular basis by persons other than the residents. A public swimming pool includes but is not limited to a pool serving or installed for the state or any political subdivision of the state; a pool serving or installed at a motel, hotel, tourist rooming house, bed and breakfast establishment, campground, camp, club, association, housing development or school, or a religious, charitable or youth organization; a mobile pool; and a pool at an educational or rehabilitative institution. Included in the meaning of a "public swimming pool" are buildings, equipment and appurtenances, irrespective of whether or not a fee is charged for their use.
Application and Fees
Links for more information:
- Department of Safety and Professional Services (formerly Department of Commerce) Pool construction
- Basic Pool Diagram
- Fecal Incident Response – Recommendations for Pool Staff
- Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter DHS 172 – Safety, Maintenance and Operation of Public Swimming Pools
- Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter SPS 390 – Design and Construction of Public Swimming Pools
- National Swimming Pool Foundation
Any parcel or tract of land owned by a person, the state or a local government, which is designed, maintained, intended or used for the purpose of providing sites for non-permanent overnight use by four or more camping units, or by one to three camping units if the parcel or tract of land is represented as a campground.
Special event campground means a single event such as a fair, rally or festival involving the gathering of camping units for a maximum of seven consecutive nights.
A premises, including temporary and permanent structures, that is operated as an overnight living quarters where both food and lodging or facilities for food and lodging are provided for children or adults or both children and adults for a planned program of recreation or education, and that is offered free of charge or for payment of a fee by a person or by the state or local unit of government. A Rec/Ed camp does NOT include any of the following:
- An overnight planned program of recreation or education for adults or families at an establishment holding a current hotel or motel or restaurant permit. Although camping or RV use could require a special event campground license.
- An overnight planned program of recreation or education for less than four consecutive nights and without permanent facilities for food and lodging. This activity may require special event licensing.
- An overnight planned program for credit at an accredited academic institution of higher education.
- A tournament, competition, visitation, recruitment, campus conference or professional sports team training camp.
Application and Fees for Recreational/Educational Camps
Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter DHS 175 – Recreational and Educational Camps
Hotel, Motel and Tourist Rooming House
All lodging facilities must be licensed. The various lodging definitions are:
"Hotel" – All places wherein sleeping accommodations are offered for pay to transients, in five or more rooms, and all places used in connection. "Hotel keeper", "motel keeper" and "innkeeper" are synonymous and "inn", "motel" and "hotel" are synonymous.
"Tourist Rooming House" – Any lodging place or tourist cabin or cottage with 4 or less sleeping rooms, where sleeping accommodations are offered for pay to tourists or transients. "Tourist Rooming House" does NOT include:
- A private boarding or rooming house, ordinarily conducted as such, not accommodating tourists or transients
- A hotel or motel
- Bed and breakfast establishments
A "tourist or transient" means a person who travels from place to place away from his or her permanent residence for vacation, pleasure, recreation, culture, business or employment.
Application and Fees
Wisconsin Administrative Code DHS 195 – Hotels, Motels and Tourist Rooming Houses
Carbon Monoxide Detector Requirement
Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association
Bed and Breakfast
Any place of lodging that:
- Provides eight or fewer rooms for rent to no more than a total of 20 tourists or other transients
- Provides no meals other than breakfast and provides the breakfast only to renters of the establishment;
- Is the owner's personal residence
- Is occupied by the owner at the time of rental
- Was originally built and occupied as a single-family residence, or, prior to use as a place of lodging, was converted to use and occupied as a single-family residence
Application and Fees
Wisconsin Administrative Code DHS 197 – Bed and Breakfast Establishments
Tattoo and Body Piercing (Body Art)
All tattoo and body piercing activities (except ear) must be licensed. All persons performing these activities must be licensed Practitioners.
Body piercing means perforating any human body part or tissue, except an ear, and placing a foreign object in the perforation to prevent the perforation from closing.
Tattoo means to insert pigment under the surface of the skin of a person by pricking with a needle or otherwise so as to produce an indelible mark or figure through the skin.
DATCP - Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection