Food service at San Diego craft breweries to be scrutinzied

Posted at 7:00 PM, May 03, 2016
and last updated 2018-05-25 13:22:39-04
SAN DIEGO -- A pilot project to study catered food service for public events held at local breweries and wineries was unanimously approved Wednesday by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
The Board of Supervisors voted to spend $8,520 to study how caterers are serving food at craft breweries and wineries. It could lead to new food safety regulations.
The project will include options for developing a local catering ordinance that would implement the California retail food code countywide, by setting clear rules and food safety standards for catering.
"There needs to be a modernized definition of catering which allows more flexibility for food service during these public gatherings," Supervisor Dianne Jacob said.
Kearny Mesa's Council Brewing serves 16 beers, but has no kitchen. So, CEO Curtis Chism hires food caterers to serve everything from barbecue to grilled cheese sandwiches. He said people stay longer and beer sales grow 20 percent. Many are good, he said, but others raise his inner alarm.

"Some guys, I've had them out once or twice, I'm like, 'I don't think I'm going to have you back,'" Chism said.

"When I hear more regulation, my knee-jerk reaction is no."

A spokeswoman for the county said the study will look at how caterers serve food during public events, like an open brewery -- she said previously they operated at private events. The county would seek 15 breweries and wineries to participate.

Bill Warnke, who owns Bitter Brothers Brewery, said it could be attacking a problem that doesn't exist since caterers are already licensed.

"Are there people out there representing themselves as caterers that aren't currently licensed? If that's the case then I think there should be possibly regulation," Chism said.

Chrism said more rules could add costs, but they may pay off when it comes to pairing the right food with the right beer.