When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When health inspectors cite you for it, get famous.
Julie Murphy, a 7-year-old Oregonian, set up a lemonade stand on July 29 at an art fair in northeast Portland. County health inspectors shut her down, however, telling Julie and her mother, Maria Fife, that they needed a temporary restaurant license, which costs $120. The penalty for selling food without a permit, they warned, was $500. At 50 cents a cup, that’s a lot of lemonade.
Others at the fair urged the family to give away the lemonade, and they wrote “free” and “suggested donation” on Julie’s sign with a marker. But the inspectors were unmoved.
Jeff Cogen, the top elected official in Multnomah County, Ore. tried to turn lemons into lemonade, by apologizing Thursday for the shutting down of a lemonade stand by county health inspectors at a Portland arts fair last week. “A lemonade stand is a classic iconic American kid thing to do,” the county Chairman said. “I don’t want to be in the business of shutting that down.”
“It’s not necessarily best to have strict lines all the time,” Cogen stated, “and sometimes professional judgment and discretion needs to be used here.” He’s asked the health department to find a better way. Cogen also says that he ran a lemonade stand, and his kids do, as well. Maria Fife, Julie’s mom, said her daughter wanted to open a lemonade stand after seeing a cartoon character open one. The other vendors reportedly rallied around Julie, and her “business” started booming.
While the county inspectors were doing their job, Cogen said, the rules are meant for professional food service operators. “This isn’t something we need to be using our limited resources to crack down on,” he said.