Monday, October 24, 2011

The truth about Food Carts - today

by Joy Spencer

Recent media attention has raised questions by many about a booth operated by the Oregon Bartenders’ Guild that is selling hard liquor.  Hopefully we can clear up some of the confusion as to how allowing this booth to temporarily sell alcohol is different than issuing an annual license to a food cart.   

For years, OLCC has allowed food carts or “open-air booths” to have temporary sales licenses.  What we believe caught the attention of the news media is that this particular temporary sales license is positioned in a popular food cart area in Southeast Portland. Given the timing of the OLCC’s current discussion of what legal options are available in regard to issuing annual licenses to food carts - we can understand the reporters’ confusion. 

There will be an informational presentation on the topic of issuing an annual license (like that issued to a bar or restaurant) to a food cart during the Commission this month in Bend.  How the Oregon Bartenders’ Guild’s booth differs is that this is a temporary sales license (what we commonly refer to as a TSL).  The Oregon Bartenders’ Guild (a nonprofit organization) approached the OLCC with the concept in September to see if what they were proposing was allowed.

Operation of a TSL at an outdoor event is used across the state, however, it is most commonly used to serve beer and wine.  That being said, selling distilled spirits is not new.  The OLCC has issued other temporary licenses to vendors who sell distilled spirits at events such as rodeos, Cinco de Mayo, and the Fall Festival in Bend.

The Oregon Bartenders’ Guild booth is separated from the other food vendors by stanchions. Unlike what was suggested in the articles, there are no jell-o shots being served by this vendor.  Enforcement personnel visited the vendor at different times last weekend.  Reports were that the licensee was doing all of the things they promised to do.  Staff observed the licensee checking ID and there was no one within the licensed area who appeared to be underage or visibly intoxicated.

In communication with the licensee’s Event Director, he has assured staff that they have and will continue to “monitor people’s alcohol intake to a total degree.”  He went on to share that they are neither encouraging nor allowing people to drink to excess.

Here is some additional information to help frame how the Oregon Bartenders’ Guild’s TSL works:

          The Oregon Bartenders’ Guild has been granted a Temporary Sales License (TSL)
          A TSL allows the sale of distilled spirits, malt beverages, wine, and cider for drinking on the licensed premises.
          A TSL also allows for the sale of factory-sealed containers of malt beverage, wine, and cider for drinking off the licensed premises
          Food must be available in all areas where alcohol consumption is allowed, but the food service requirements are different for a temporary as compared to an annual license
          OLCC charges $50 per day for a TSL license
          Max 31 days for the license – However, they could be granted an additional 29 days for the temporary license if they meet the requirement for an annual license
          Oregon Bartenders’ Guild is a non-profit organization that is registered with the state of Oregon
          A non-profit organization with a TSL may receive donated alcohol products from a manufacturer/wholesaler
          A non-profit organization with a TSL is exempt from the service permit requirement IF they attend a licensee-provided training and sign the OLCC brochure “What Every Volunteer Alcohol Server Needs to Know” (Although, The Oregon Bartenders’ Guild has service permit holders serving the beverages)

Additional information:
Factors used to assess special events:

Special Events/Temporary Sales Licenses

Guidelines for Nonprofit Organizations and Special Events with Alcohol


  1. I commend the OLCC for allowing this TSL to function as it did. I visited the OBG Cart and found it to be strictly enforced (as in, being carded when over 60 years old!) with great diligence, and the staff being extremely observant of their guests.

    I also observed quite a few customers who were enjoying an evening cocktail, in moderation and without in any way abusing alcohol or creating any problem. I would like seeing more "carts" of this type in appropriate places in Oregon.

  2. Just the article I've been looking for - thanks so much for sharing!