On Wednesday, the food section of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald ran a friendly profile of a woman, Reilly Harvey, who runs a business selling pies, brownies, and cooked lobsters out of her small boat around "the anchorage between Dix and High Islands."
Today, the same newspaper reports that the state is shutting her down:
Harvey said she was contacted by a state health inspector and told she must pass health inspection standards for mobile vendors – think food trucks – and get her vintage 22-foot wooden launch, the Mainstay, fitted with sinks and hot and cold running water if she is going to continue to serve hot food.
That licensing would happen through the Division of Environmental Health's inspection program. If she wants to continue to serve desserts, she must pass an additional inspection by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
There are only 3½ weeks left in her season. Unless she is able to comply with the regulations, it is unlikely she'll be able to operate Mainstay Provisions as usual in 2014....She must add a three-bay sink and a separate hand sink, and must have running hot and cold water (not from the sea) to comply with the same regulations that apply to food trucks on land....During the dinner shift the Press Herald spent with her in late July, Harvey sold a handful of lobsters, three orders of clams and fewer than 10 desserts to people on about a half-dozen boats, all of whom could look directly into her "kitchen" on the deck of her open boat.
She already has a license to sell shellfish, but the state wants her to get two more licenses and additional equipment (put a three-bay sink and the separate hand sink in the 22-foot wooden boat) if she wants to remain in operation as a small offshore business.
What a wonderful (or, actually, horrible) example of how occupational licensing hurts small businesspeople, who often happen to be women and minorities. Sounds like a great case for the Institute for Justice, or for some Maine politician with the sense either to get the rules changed or tell the bureaucrats to exercise some discretionary flexibility.