Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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Residential kitchens cannot be used for lunch wagon food

By June Watanabe


Question: What are the laws for operating a lunch wagon business in a home? My neighbors and I are concerned about safety and a business in which cooking is done in a garage with dogs around. Does the state Department of Health condone this practice? It's annoying to smell food cooking all night, as well as their smelly trash bins. Three firetrucks were dispatched after an unattended meal was burning at night.

Answer: The state Department of Health's Sanitation Branch knows of no approved lunch wagon "commissaries" -- support kitchens that are required for all lunch wagons -- operating out of a residence.

"Theoretically it is possible, but they would need to build a complete second kitchen with an available restroom that is not used as part of the living quarters, must be separated by a floor-to-wall solid partition from the rest of the home, with a separate outside entrance for inspection purposes," said Peter Oshiro, environmental health program manager with the Sanitation Branch.

The branch will look into all allegations of illegal food operations. However, Oshiro pointed out that inspectors are only allowed to make inspections Monday to Friday during normal work hours.

Because of budget restrictions, "general complaint" inspections are not done after normal working hours, unless directly related to an active food-borne illness investigation or other imminent health hazard, he explained.

If you provide the address of the alleged illegal operation, with the name or license plate of the lunch wagon, plus information about the cooking hours, etc., "we will approach the owners and/or tenants of the property in question and inform them of the prohibition of operating a commercial food establishment out of a home kitchen," he said.

An inspector also will attempt to ascertain whether the lunch wagon has a valid permit to operate.

"We will issue a cease-and-desist notice to the owners if they have no permits for the wagon or commissary," Oshiro said.

If no one is available at home, a certified letter will be sent to the tenants/owners informing them of the complaint and that they need to cease from any alleged impropriety if it is occurring, he said.

Letters can be sent to the Sanitation Branch, 591 Ala Moana Blvd. No. 125, Honolulu, HI 96813-4921; or email Oshiro at

Q: What is the law regarding passengers using seat belts in the back seat of a car?

A: Under Hawaii law, anyone 17 years old or younger is required to be restrained by a seat belt or child restraint seat if riding in the back seat of a vehicle.

See or call the Honolulu Police Department at 529-3106 for information.


To a selfish driver. I parked in a handicap stall on the second level in front of Sears' Ewa entrance at Ala Moana Center. I returned to find a Honda double-parked behind my car. A woman with a hairball on top of her head was in the driver's seat. I blew the horn and motioned for her to pull out of the way. She refused, gesturing to me to back up as she (by God) wasn't going to move. There were plenty of empty stalls and room for her to move. After waiting a few minutes, I decided to call Ala Moana security. By then a man and several children walked up to the car and got in, and she took off. This double-parking in the aisles is prevalent on Oahu, especially Ala Moana Center and usually involving younger female drivers. They don't care who they block and won't move. -- A Disgusted Driver

Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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