How Do I Get a Catering License in California

Posted by Damian Roberti on

How Do I Get a Catering License in California

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Choosing a Legal Form for Your Company

Even if you may run your catering company as a sole proprietorship or as a partnership, you should certainly give some thought to utilizing a legal structure that shields you from personal liability, such as a corporation or a limited liability company, in order to better safeguard your assets. Providing catering services typically requires frequent visits to the places of business and residences owned by third parties, direct interaction with large groups of individuals who are eating meals that have been prepared by the business, and the requirement that employees engage in a significant amount of strenuous physical activity. This raises the potential that a person could be injured or have their property damaged; in such a scenario, you would want your catering business to be accountable for any liabilities, not you personally.

Find out more about the different types of business structures.



How Do I Get a Catering License in California

Authorizations and Licenses

In general, in order to conduct business, catering companies are required to obtain some kind of license or permit from the local health department of the city or county in where they are located. The particulars will change from one health authority to another that is engaged. A state food safety certification is something that the law in California requires any on-duty employees or managers of catering businesses to have.

When you apply for a health permit, you can be asked to supply a few different categories of information, such as the following:

Along with a copy of your restaurant's menu, a copy of your state's food safety certification is required. a declaration regarding the times during which your kitchen or commissary will be available to customers. a diagram of the layout of your kitchen or commissary, including all of the sinks, equipment, and storage space; as well as a description of the procedures you follow to ensure the safety of the food you prepare.

If you intend to serve alcoholic beverages as part of your catering business, you will be required to obtain a special permit from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control known as a "caterer's permit." Additionally, you will be required to obtain licenses for each event that you cater that involves the serving of alcoholic beverages.



How Do I Get a Catering License in California

Protection and Wellness

Because catering is all about providing people with ready-to-eat food, it is subject to numerous rules surrounding the health and safety of food, and more specifically, the California Retail Food Code. These restrictions are intended to protect consumers from potentially harmful foods. Handwashing, timing and temperature for food storage and cooking, ventilation, liquid waste, staff storage spaces, flooring and other surfaces are only some of the many dozens of topics that are covered by the Code.

Keeping in mind the retail food code, you can anticipate receiving routine inspections from the health department in your community. Inspections conducted by the health department might encompass a wide variety of components of your catering company because local health authorities have a great deal of discretion in terms of what they are allowed to investigate. Not just the food itself, both raw and prepared, but also the refrigeration systems, cooking equipment, waste disposal, and a great deal of other aspects might be examined during an inspection.


How Do I Get a Catering License in California

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the federal government has a number of regulations concerning, among other things, eye and face protection, hand protection, and walking-working surfaces. These regulations are in addition to the state regulations that exist regarding the health and safety of restaurant workers.

Statements of Policy and Legal Agreements

There is a possibility that various clients will have varying expectations regarding the specific services that your catering business will offer. It is in your best advantage to spell out in advance, in writing, everything that you will do for your customers as well as everything that you won't do for them. If you have a website, posting your rules and regulations on it is a must. In addition, regardless of whether or not you have a website, you should give a hard copy of a paper that contains the information about your policies to each and every one of your customers before you come to an agreement and start working for them.



How Do I Get a Catering License in California

For instance, if you provide catering to individuals in their homes, you need to specify such items as:

Who will make the purchase of the uncooked food? where the meal will be prepared after being purchased. If a customer's residence will be used for food preparation, there must be provisions for the proper disposal of trash. The prices of a number of different goods payment policy Cancellation policy Regulatory measures for the food storage service

Catering to corporate clients is subject to a significant number of the same types of regulations.

A broad set of rules is helpful, but it is also beneficial to work with each particular client to produce a documented plan for the specific services that are to be provided. This is in addition to a general set of guidelines.



How Do I Get a Catering License in California

It is important to keep in mind that in order for a contract for services to be legally binding, two things must occur: (a) you and your client must agree on what the contract is for (there must be a "meeting of the minds"), and (b) there must be an exchange of value (also known as "consideration"; in the case of a catering business, typically the exchange of catering services, including food, for money). It is not necessary for the contract to be written down if the services that are being provided will be finished in less than a year. On the other hand, a written contract offers greater protection. You ought to give some thought to drafting — or having an attorney prepare — a standard contract that you are able to adapt for particular customers.

How Do I Get a Catering License in California


Catering presents its own unique set of dangers, including the possibility that one of your employees will slip and fall on your property while preparing food; that one of your customers or employees will be injured by a hot liquid or broken glass; or that someone will become gravely ill as a direct result of eating the food. In addition to these, there are the more general risks associated with running a business, including as the possibility of a fire, theft, or other events that could result in personal injury or property damage.

Make every effort to collaborate with an insurance agent who has prior expertise crafting insurance plans for those who are active in the food preparation and serving industries. When it comes to property coverage, you should do your best to ensure that every piece of important business property, from plates to stoves, is adequately insured. When it comes to individuals getting hurt, you need to make sure you have a solid general liability policy. This should include not only the damage caused by someone pouring hot coffee on a diner but also the damage caused by someone becoming dangerously ill as a result of consuming the food that you cooked. In addition, you should make certain that you have adequate automobile insurance to protect yourself and any employees who accompany you when traveling to and from the places of business and residences of your customers.



How Do I Get a Catering License in California


The vast majority of catering businesses have at least a few employees, and in many instances there might be relatively frequent employee turnover. You should educate yourself on fundamental employment law concerns such as how to handle the hiring process, illegal discrimination, and worker compensation, among other topics. In particular with reference to the employment process, hone your skills in:

Make an application for the job that is helpful and does not contain any inquiries that are against the law.

Check references and perform additional preemployment inquiries, but do so in a way that does not violate privacy laws or look for information in any other way that is illegal.

In an interview, you should ask questions that are not only helpful but also within the bounds of the law.


How Do I Get a Catering License in California