catering event permits

John: Hi, I’m John Maher, I’m here today with Kristi Swett, a fifth generation Woodman and event coordinator at Woodman’s of Essex and today we’re talking about catering events, permits and licensing. Welcome, Kristi.

Kristi: Hi, John.

What Catering Event Permits are Needed?

John: So, Kristi what are some of the permits that we’re talking about here that you may need to get in regards to a catering event?

Kristi: Well, the biggest one is a propane or “using open flame” permit. Most cities and towns require some type of [advance notice] and also to know how much propane you are going to be transporting and where you’re going to store it the day of.

John: Right, I know that there’s certain regulations too, like I know you can’t go across the George Washington Bridge in New York City with propane tanks or something like that, so you may have to be aware of that if you have a large truck with a whole lot of propane and [you’ll be] crossing bridges and things like that. There might be some licenses that you might have to get for that.

Kristi: Right, absolutely. Depending on the city and town, there are certain ways that it does have to be transported, either in the open back of a pick-up truck or in a secured container. Are they strapped in or are they tied down? It really is town and city dependent.

John: Right. And then using that propane for cooking or like you said, having some sort of an open flame type of permit, depending on whether you’re outdoors or inside a building, all of that comes into play with that permit.

Kristi: Correct, yes.

Health Inspections for Food

John: Right, what about a health inspector regarding the food?

Kristi: Again, some cities and towns require you to file a permit prior to the event to get a one-day catering license for that town and then other places once you’ve registered your event, they might come on the actual day of and do some type of spot-check to make sure you have your hand wash facilities in place, you’re checking the temperature of food every four hours and just making sure you’re following the food safety rules.

Contacting the Fire Department Before Your Event

John: Okay, what about the fire department, do you have to contact them?

Kristi: Yes, depending on where it is. It usually kind of goes hand in hand with the propane permit, because you are working with the fire department for both. Some cities then will recommend you have a fire detail, and there are other cities that no matter how much propane you’re using, you do have to hire a fire detail. In terms of that, you need to really know the hours that you’re going to be cooking or using the propane and they’re usually there for four or five hours at a time to make sure all the rules are being followed.

Liquor Licenses

John: Okay. And then lastly, what about a liquor license?

Kristi: So a liquor license is really venue dependent. Some of them hold their own licensing, and in then other towns or venues, you need to file a one-day license. You definitely need a bartending service in place if you do need to file that one-day license and they also need to carry their own liability insurance.

Catering Event Insurance

John: Is there a liability insurance that you need for the liquor license? Or what about if there’s an accident or something like that happens? Who has a liability insurance for that?

Kristi: Right, so the bartending company that you hire would carry the liquor liability insurance and then your catering company would just carry a general liability and working comp insurance policy. Some venues have themselves listed on your insurance specifically for that day while other venues that you go to do a blanketed [policy] for the season, but it is an additional cost to have them listed on your policy.

John: Okay, so you might have to actually add that event location on to your liability insurance policy? So you just have to be aware of that depending on where the event is?

Kristi: Right, absolutely. If it’s for a company and they have a prop reading management company that owns the facility, it might be that management company that needs to be listed. So we definitely need to know the exact wording for that license, just so we make sure we pass on the information correctly to our insurance company.

John: Okay, all right, well that’s great information, Kristi, thanks for speaking with me today.

Kristi: Thank you, John.

John: And for more information about Woodman’s large event catering, visit their website at or call 978-768-2559.

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