New catering permit requirement causes confusion

Tom Milstead/Torrington Telegram Julie Miller-Harshberger with 307 Sports Bar and Grill speaks to the Torrington City Council while obtaining a catering permit for a Business After Hours event. New state mandates require that she, and other caterers, also obtain a temporary food license to purchase a catering permit.

TORRINGTON – A new licensing requirement enacted by the Wyoming Department of Agricultures Consumer Health Services Division has nearly doubled the cost for local vendors to cater an event. 

According to Silvia Anaya, Deputy Clerk for the City of Torrington, vendors are now required by the state to obtain a temporary food license before they can be granted a catering permit for events in the city. Anaya said she was contacted by Eric Avila, health inspector for the area, and the new requirements are due to changes made by the CHS, not local agencies. 

“The changes are actually on his end,” she said. “He is now required to inspect the spot or location where my retail liquor license holders are planning to cater an event.”

Anaya said the reason for the changes is to ensure that drink garnishes, such as fruit, milk or cream, are stored safely during events. 

“The reason is that it has been overlooked,” she said. “They’re serving alcohol, but what they forgot in terms of the food aspect is that some of these drinks may require creamer or milk, or they have a cherry. The food items are not the liquor – it’s everything that is being presented with it to make a cocktail or a mixed drink. 

“That is what he has to inspect. He has to inspect how they are keeping that kind of stuff the correct temperature, if they’re serving it safely, and those types of things.”

The cost to obtain the temporary food permit is $25, which is in addition to the $30 fee for catering permits issued by the city. 

“The process is that before I can issue anything on my end, they have to present that temporary food license,” she said. “It’s a little license he fills out, it tells me he inspected it and he approves it. They have to pay $25 to him, and then they can come to me and get their catering permits.”

While the changes came from the state, they have caused some confusion locally. Sandy Hoehn, Community Development Director for the Goshen County Economic Development Corporation, said some local vendors have had difficulty figuring out the new process. 

“One thing that we have heard was that there is a lot of confusion from different vendors regarding the changes and what they need to do and why it happened,” she said. “I think it’s going to impact Third Thursday, even. They have to get a permit for every month and it’s just costly for our different vendors.”

The additional permit raises the cost for vendors to $55 to cater an event, compared to $30 previously. Hoehn said it might not be a big deal to established vendors, but it could have an impact with start-ups. 

“I think, especially for some of our vendors that are starting out, they come down to do kind of a trial market at our Third Thursday,” she said. “They’re not necessarily making a lot, or they’re just giving away samples, and I think it’s a lot when people are first starting out.” 

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