ARLINGTON — The Town of Arlington will fast track its retail grocery permitting process to allow restaurants, suffering under the combined weights of social distancing and minimum orders from suppliers, the right to sell food inventory, including meat, eggs, milk and more, to consumers.
In what is viewed as a win-win for residents and restaurant owners, Public Health Director Natasha Waden and the Arlington Department of Health and Human Services have developed a streamlined process/application for restaurants that wish to sell groceries directly to consumers to obtain a permit from the Town of Arlington. This will ensure that food sales remain in line with health and safety guidelines while providing a new and vital source of revenue for distressed businesses and a new source of food and grocery staples for residents.
The Town is also waiving the usual $150 permit fee for restaurant owners who take advantage of this special permit. Restaurants that take part in the special permit process will have to display a special notice in their window indicating that they have received a permit from the Town to sell groceries direct to consumers. The special permits will expire when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts lifts its order on nonessential businesses and restaurant dining.
Only currently-permitted food service establishments that are in good standing with the Arlington Health Department will be eligible to apply for the special grocery sales permit.
Restaurants interested in the special permit can download an application at the Health Department’s Food page by clicking here. The form is titled “Temporary Change of Food Operation-Plan Review Application.”
Health Director Waden decided to go in this direction after learning from restaurant owners that, in order to stay in business during social distancing, restaurants still had to make minimum purchases from their food suppliers. And those minimum purchases mean restaurants have to buy far more food than they are selling via takeout.
“The Arlington Health Department is diligently working with our food establishments to ensure that they can continue to operate during this global pandemic,” Director Waden said. “Food Safety is of utmost importance and cannot be overlooked, even during the pandemic. Restaurants cannot flip a switch and become a grocery store overnight, but by working collaboratively with restaurant owners and managers to ensure their establishments can meet mandatory food safety requirements, including sanitation, labeling and packaging, we can permit restaurants to sell groceries and meat directly to consumers.”
Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine praised the Health Department for developing a safe and business friendly solution within 24 hours of receiving a report that an Arlington restaurant was selling groceries and raw meat to customers.
“These are extraordinary circumstances, and with everything going on surrounding COVID-19, I am very proud of our Health Department for quickly developing a process that will help businesses and keep residents safe at the same time,” Town Manager Chapdelaine said. “Arlington is a community that is built on its partnerships, and this is yet another example of that philosophy in motion.”