Act 10 Catering Study

 

ACT 10 (H.157) COMMERCIAL CATERERS; STUDY & REPORT

                                                                                   

Text of language of H.157 Section 2a; Commercial Caterers; study & report

 

The department of liquor control shall issue a report on or before January 15, 2008 to the general assembly.  The report shall include findings and recommendations from a study of the commercial caterers in Vermont, the existing laws that regulate them, the appropriateness of updating these laws to permit commercial caterers to acquire a first or first and third class license that would permit them to serve alcoholic beverages in conjunction with catered events without compromising alcoholic beverage enforcement issues

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

In April of 2007 the General Assembly of the State of Vermont charged the Department of Liquor Control (DLC) with conducting a study surrounding the appropriateness of permitting commercial caterers to acquire a first or first and third class license that would permit them to serve alcoholic beverages in conjunction with catered events without compromising alcoholic beverage enforcement issues.

 

The following meetings were held:

 

  • In June, approximately 200 invitations went out via U.S. Postal mail and e-mail to current holders of DLC catering licenses as well as non-licensed commercial caterers inviting them to a meeting to discuss this issue on the morning of August 14, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. at the office of the DLC located at 13 Green Mountain Drive in Montpelier. 

 

  • On August 14, 2007 the only people in attendance at the meeting were Vicky P. Tebbetts, Vice President of the Vermont Hospitality Council and William J. Goggins, Chief of the DLC Education, Licensing & Enforcement Division.

 

  • Another meeting was scheduled for August 29, 2007.  Again, approximately 200 invitations went out via U.S. postal mail and electronic e-mail.  Chief Goggins received one e-mail in return to the rescheduling advising that August was part of the caterer’s busy season and that everyone’s purposes would be better served to hold the meeting in October or early November.   

 

  • Ultimately, a meeting was scheduled for Friday November 2, 2007 beginning at 10:00 a.m. at the offices of the Department of Liquor Control located on Green Mountain Drive in Montpelier. 

 

  • A list of attendees is included at the end of this report.

 

 

Points of discussion and agreement:

 

  • It was agreed that commercial caterers should be able to qualify to hold a liquor license even though they did not meet the current legal requirements of having a first and or first and third class Restaurant, Cabaret or Hotel liquor license

 

It was decided that all caterers wishing to obtain a first and third class liquor license should meet the following minimum conditions:

 

  • Have a base of operations that has a commercial kitchen facility.
  • Possess a license from the Vermont Department of Health.
  • Possess a license from the Vermont Department of Taxes.
  • Possess full coverage insurance.
  • Be subject to unannounced Liquor Control and health inspections.

 

Additionally it was determined that anyone wishing to obtain a “Commercial Catering License should:

  • Possess equipment that meets or exceeds the Vermont Department of Health’s requirements for those of a “commercial Kitchen”.
  • Pay the same licensing fees as current First and Third Class Restaurant or Cabaret catering license holders.
  • Meet and maintain all statutory requirements of Title 7.
  • Report a threshold amount of minimum gross receipts to qualify for a Commercial Catering License.

 

A “threshold minimum” of gross receipts was not determined however, everyone felt this was an important part of the equation in order to keep the licensing on a professional level and not to let so called “fly by night” folks or the “pan of ziti”  for the once a year grange dinner qualify for a Commercial Catering License.

 

CURRENT CATERING LAW

 

Catering in Vermont is defined by Title 7 V.S.A. § 2(6) whereas a permit issued by the Liquor Control Board authorizes the holder of first and third class licenses for a cabaret, restaurant or hotel premises to serve malt or vinous beverages or spirituous liquors at a function located on a premises other than those occupied by a first, first and third, or second class licensee to sell alcoholic beverages.

 

In short, a catering license allows an entity holding a liquor license for a brick and mortar bar, restaurant or hotel to serve alcoholic beverages at a location other than their licensed establishment.  There are approximately 200 licensed caterers in Vermont.  The cost of a catering license is $200.00 for the year.  All licenses are valid from May 1 through April 30th of the following year. 

 

According to General Regulation #6 of V.S.A. Title 7, when a licensed caterer wishes to cater an event away from their premises they submit a request for catering at least fifteen days in advance to the municipality in which the event will occur.  (This time will be shortened to five days pending a current regulatory review of the General Regulations)  The municipality will either approve or deny the catering request.  If approved, the request is submitted to the DLC and will eventually make it to the Investigator covering that locality.  The Investigator will then insure that the location meets all of the requirements outlined in Title 7. (Controlled access, defined area, safe area etc…)  There is no charge for a permit from the State however some municipalities, like Burlington, charge licensees a fee for each catering permit they (being Burlington) issues.

 

Locations of catered events are treated the same way as a brick and mortar licensed establishment.  All laws, rules and regulations must be adhered to at the catered event even if that event is a private event held on private property.  Licensees are subject to an unannounced inspection by the local Investigator and are also subject to criminal or administrative proceedings in the event of a violation of Title 7. 

 

 

ENFORCEMENT

 

It is difficult at best for an Investigator to perform an inspection at a catered event that is held on private property.   Such events can include wedding receptions, anniversaries, birthday’s so on and so forth.  When an Investigator shows up at a wedding reception on private property and finds minors consuming alcohol, the situation can become emotionally charged rather quickly.  The General public does not always understand that when they hire a licensed caterer that the caterer is subject to health and liquor inspections even when the event is held on private property. 


 

Summary - Report on Commercial Catering and Recommendations

 

• Allow “Commercial Caterers” to obtain a license to sell and furnish  alcoholic beverages at their catered events provided they meet the following criteria.

 

• Have a base of operation where they possess equipment that meets or exceeds the Vermont Department of Health’s  requirements for those of a “Commercial Kitchen”. 

•Pay the same licensing fees as do current holders of First and Third Class Restaurant, Cabaret or Hotel license holders.

• Possess a “Health” license from the Vermont Department of Health.

• Possess a “Rooms & Meals Tax” license from the Vermont Department of Taxes.

• Possess full coverage insurance.

•Be subject to unannounced Liquor Control and Health inspections.

• Meet and maintain all statutory requirements of Title 7 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated.

• Report a threshold amount of minimum gross receipts to qualify for a Commercial Catering License.

    (Note:  a threshold minimum of gross receipts was not determined but should be of such a level as to keep non- commercial caterers from being eligible to hold a catering license)

The following changes need to be made to Statute which the Department will recommend either in the current session or in the next biennium:

 

Title 7 V.S.A. § 2(6); “Caterers permit”: a permit issued by the liquor control board authorizing the holder of first and third class licenses for a cabaret, restaurant, or hotel or commercial catering premises to serve malt or vinous beverages or spirituous liquors at a function located on premises other than those occupied by a first, first and third, or second class, or commercial catering licensee to sell alcoholic beverages.

 

Title 7 V.S.A. § 2(6)(a); “Commercial catering license”: a license issued by the liquor control board to a commercial caterer who: 

      • Has a base of operation where they possess equipment that meets or exceeds the Vermont Department of Health’s requirements for those of a commercial catering kitchen.
      • Pays the same licensing fees as do current holders of first and third class restaurant, cabaret or hotel license holders.
      • Possess a health license from the Vermont Department of Health.
      • Possess a rooms and meals tax license from the Vermont Department of Taxes.
      • Possess full coverage insurance.
      • Be subject to unannounced liquor control and health inspections.
      • Meet and maintain all statutory requirements of Title 7.
      • Report to the Department of Liquor Control at the time of issuance and yearly renewal the threshold amount of minimum gross receipts to qualify to hold such license.

 

Title 7 V.S.A. § 238; “Caterer’s permit, granting of; sale to minors

 

    • The liquor control board may issue a caterers permit only to those persons who hold a current first and third class license for a restaurant, or hotel, cabaret or commercial catering premises.
    • The liquor control board shall promulgate rules or regulations as it deems necessary to effectuate the purposes of this section.
    • No malt or vinous beverages or spirituous liquors shall be sold or served to a minor by a holder of a caterer’s permit.
    • Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, the liquor control board may issue a caterer’s permit to a licensed manufacturer or rectifier who holds a current first class license.

 

Attendees at Catering Meetings:

  •  Brendan Blood representing Blood’s Catering
  • Michael Blood also representing Blood’s Catering
  • Bill Gillam Jr. representing the Gillam Hospitality Group
  • Maggie Barch representing Spice of Life Catering
  • Matthew Pearsall also representing Spice of Life Catering
  • Rachel Judd representing The Abby Group
  • Bruce Hyde representing the Hydeaway Inn
  • Vicky Tebbetts representing the Vermont Hospitality Council and their 900 members;   Chris Benjamin representing the New England Culinary Institute (NECI)
  • Ryan Smith representing the Monkey House.

 

 

 


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