(The Center Square) — Washington’s staple for mom-and-pop coffee stands is in jeopardy after a new ruling by the Washington State Department of Health requires coffee stands and food companies have permanent plumbing in their businesses.
Snohomish County business owners who are not plumbed have received an email from the Snohomish Health District Food Safety Team. The email was sent notifying homeowners of a changed decision regarding permanent plumbing.
The post explained that the original Washington state rule allowed espresso stands and other mobile concession stands to operate with drinking water and waste water tanks, rather than being permanently plumbed. However, there would now be “no exemption for permanent plumbing in the Food Safety Code”.
Angie Jackson, owner of Cedar and Salt Coffeehouse in Coupeville, WA, started an online petition to change the rule after learning about it. The petition on Change.org has garnered more than 4,000 signatures since it went live on June 7.
The new rule will cause “insurmountable and unimaginable” difficulties in adapting, according to the petition.
“Even if they allow grandfathered stands to remain unleaded until they are sold, it will still become a burden,” Jackson wrote in the petition. “A lot of us small business owners are single parents… and grow our businesses as an investment by buying new stalls and expanding them. Or we buy and sell. Or we move and sell.
It is common for these coffee stands without permanent plumbing to use bottled water to clean dishes and carry waste water to a sink away from the business. But now this will no longer be possible from September 1st.
“What is reason enough to do something so drastic?” Aren’t we hygienic enough? Jackson questioned in the petition. “None of my clients [has] have fallen ill after being served food or drink in the past five years. Is it due to improper sewage disposal? So let’s focus on a solution for that! NOT A NEW LAW THAT WILL COST TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS! »
The Snohomish County Health District is exploring options that consider the feasibility of these companies installing permanent plumbing before September.
In an email to The Center Square, Snohomish Health District Communications Coordinator Kari Bray said “this rule change went into effect March 1, with a 6-month training period ending September 1.
“Comments will be shared with our health board as the food team works with the board to ensure we have clear options and can support businesses impacted by the state’s rule change,” a Bray said.
Karissa Bresheare has owned the Gourmet Latte chain of stores for 27 years. She’s been stressed since she heard about the new rule. Bresheare said in a phone call to The Center Square that “unless something changes, the game is over on September 1.”
Gourmet Latte employs nearly 200 people. Bresheare treats its baristas like family. She said if small coffee businesses are unable to install permanent plumbing in their businesses, not only will owners lose their stores, but employees could also lose their jobs.
“For many small business owners who have worked so hard for so long to grow their business, selling their business will be their only retirement, so there you have it!” Bresheare said in a follow-up email. “The question is how do these espresso stands harm public health? Why is this new law necessary and who contributed to its enactment? I would really like to know who lobbied for this new law, and I’m sure many other operators are also curious.
Washington is considered the birthplace of espresso drive. A crackdown that threatens smaller operators could potentially lead to larger coffee franchises such as Starbucks gaining market share.
Bresheare said the next step in fighting the move is to get the petition made by Jackson signed and to contact the Department of Health and their state officials.