Caterers, Shared Kitchens and Host Facilities


Caterers provide food and/or beverages for functions. The food/drink is provided to the public at a location different than where it was prepared. Catering services may also include serving staff, set-up and take-down, and bartending staff. Because caterers offer their services to the public, they are engaged in retail food activity and are required to have a health permit from Environmental Health Services.

Caterers must prepare all food/beverages at a permitted food facility and may not use a private home or unapproved kitchen to store, handle or prepare food. 


A permitted food facility may be shared by multiple businesses. Each business working out of a Shared Kitchen must have the authorization of the Shared Kitchen owner and Environmental Health Services.


If you are interested in applying for a Catering or Shared Kitchen Use permit, please complete & submit the following to EHS:

  1. Shared Kitchen Use application  
  2. A proposed menu
  3. The appropriate health permit fee.


Once you have submitted a complete application to EHS, you will be contacted by an Environmental Health Specialist to discuss your planned business operations. The Environmental Health Specialist will evaluate your proposed shared kitchen to make sure that it can support the extent and nature of your proposed business operation. The Environmental Health Specialist may ask to do a walk-through of the proposed shared kitchen with you.

If you plan to make changes to the permitted food facility (such as adding or removing equipment or fixtures, or remodeling) you may need to complete the EHS plan check process before applying for a health permit.

You may also need additional permits or business licenses to conduct business as a caterer.

Your permit will not be active until the Environmental Health Specialist has reviewed it, approved it, and given you written approval to operate.


Starting in January of 2019, breweries, wineries, commercial buildings or other locations approved by Environmental Health Services (EHS) that meet specified infrastructure and operational requirements have the option to obtain a Host Facility Permit.  Host Facilities with a permit from Environmental Health Services can host a catering operation that can sell and serve food to the public at the Host Facility. Caterers selling or serving from a Host Facility must:  1) have a valid catering permit with Santa Barbara County EHS; and 2) prepare all food at their approved catering kitchen. No food may be prepared or stored at a Host Facility. A Host Facility Permit is not required for sites that only utilize catering for private events or that only host permitted food trucks.


If you are interested in applying for a Host Facility permit, please review the Host Facility Requirements and then please complete and submit the following to EHS:

 i.    Review the Host Facility Flow Chart to see if your facility is eligible for a consultation; or if a plan check submittal is required.

 ii.    If your facility qualifies for a consultation, contact EHS to arrange a consultation appointment. Consultation appointments have a minimum one-hour charge, payable in advance of the appointment.

 iii.    If your facility requires a plan check, submit a completed Host Kitchen plan check application, including the required three copies of site and facility plans.

 iv.    If your consultation in plan check is successfully completed, you must apply for and receive a Host Facility permit prior to operating as a Host Facility. Please use the General Food Facility Application to apply.