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chris1237 05-07-2007 09:15 PM

vending/ catering laws in PA
Right now I am doing research on what it takes to become a legal cater/vendor in PA. I am confused on where to start and what I need to do to become safe in the states eye's. My hope is to become a cater in which I show up at a location and bbq at person's private event. I also want to be able vend bbq in front of my dad's store. There I hope to sell sandwiches, chips, drinks, meat by the pound ect. Also for the vending operation I would prefer to cook the food at home and reheat it on site. My question is what to I need to do to become legal? I assume I need to take a food safety class but what else needs to be done? Also what does the state require you to have for sanitation and food prep in these type of situation?


Pyle's BBQ 05-07-2007 11:54 PM

Check with the state restaurant association. They would have most of the information you need. Also, find someone in the business and talk to them.

chad 05-08-2007 08:23 AM

A good first stop is your local/county health department. They'll either be in charge of the local stuff or can point you to the appropriate state agency.

big brother smoke 05-08-2007 10:25 AM

Most states do not allow food to be cooked in your home for sale elsewhere.

bbqjoe 05-08-2007 08:00 PM

By no means to discourage you,
There is alot more to it than just setting up a koolade stand and going for it.
First check with your local health dept. They will have a pamphlet for what you are researching to do.
If you are looking at catering, and also setting up a vending site, I'm afraid you might be looking at two different animals, requiring possibly two complete different set ups and rules.
But start at the health dept, they will tell you what you need, and where you can get serve-safe or food handling training.
But before you begin, do all your homework, and C.Y.A.!!!!!
Expect to spend appx three times what you THINK your startup costs may be.
Good luck!!!

Paulie G. 06-01-2007 04:51 PM

In PA you need to go through the dept of agriculture. They have all of the info that you could wish for regarding mobile food facilities and the like. Register your business with the state, including all of that hoopla about the fictitious name registry. After you are open for business I believe you have 90 days to become serve safe certified or hire someone who is. If you are going to do only small catered events, get your certification, about a million in G.L insurance and start small. After you have a few jobs under your belt, slowly take on bigger jobs. One question, what kind of store does your dad have. If he sells food already, you don't have any kind of issue, you'll just need to be inspected as part of his business license. Don't hesitate to ask questions,I'll be more that happy to help any way that I can.

chris1237 06-02-2007 09:15 PM

Thanks for the help guys

Paulie G. my dad owns a beer store. So we are only allowed to sell prepackaged food. When I contacted the state they said I needed a certifed kitchen if I wanted to do any catering or vending. I thought I could get around this by cooking on site. Do you have one of these if not how do you get around it? The plan for now is to take one of the food cert classes this summer and go from there.


Smokin' Gnome BBQ 06-13-2007 02:13 PM

One of the first things you have to do is go through the State approved ServeSafe program, It is offered at most Penn State locations. 1 day course with alot home work or a 2day. The Dept of Ag will check out your stuff and grant a permit depending on your set up (onsite etc..) Also many boro/townships want to inspect you as well, so the get some money off of you as well.

Tinybud 06-13-2007 09:28 PM

We are going through the same thing in Pa, catering/vending. I contacted the dept. of agriculure in Montoursville (lycoming county) not sure where you are at. But we were told we don't need a commercial kitchen to use since we do all our prep and cook everything on the trailer. We do have a 3 bay sink for wash/rinse/ and sanitize, plus a seperate sink for hand washing. Hot and Cold running water. Enough water on board for an entire day. We have a coulpe small catering jobs under our belt, and plan on being setup in our front yard for roadside pick up for home penn state games. (our property is zoned commercial) There are 2 different licenses you'll need,one for catering and one for vending. Its a ton of paper work and seems like over kill,, but that's the government for ya.. Anything I can help ya with just ask, you can e-mail me if you want We don't have it all worked out yet, but working on it.. Good luck.

ps. serve safe is a must, but it isn't hard, just a long

AlabamaGrillBillies 10-19-2007 09:46 AM

Like others said call your local health department. We are just setting up our catering company and were suprised to find how much stuff varies county to county. Our county draws a big line between catering for individuals and cooking/vending for the public. Basically its much easier to be a individual caterer/contract cook than to get all the stuff needed for a vendor's license.

Tar River BBQ 02-16-2008 03:43 PM

BBQ in Va.
I am looking for the same info for Va, any help ???


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