Obtaining a Food Service License

If your business intends to serve food to the public, you will need to obtain a Colorado Retail Food license from the Environmental Health Department. The Environmental Health Department’s purpose is to ensure the safety of retail food establishments through plan reviews, inspections, and trainings based on the Colorado Retail Food Regulations.

Preliminary Meeting

Applicants for a Food Service License are required to contact the Environmental Health department for approval to operate a retail food establishment.

Environmental Health Specialist
Phone: 970-920-5075
Email Carlyn Porter

City Hall
2nd Floor
130 S Galena Street
Aspen, CO 81611
Monday through Friday
8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Approval Requirements

If you are interested in opening a restaurant or any kind of food service operation in the City of Aspen, the following will be required:

Cost & Fees

There are two fees associated with operating a retail food establishment:

  1. Review and Pre-Opening Inspection Fee, up to a maximum of $680
  2. Annual Retail Food Service License Fee, set by the state and dependent on the type of establishment

Liquor Licensing

The City Clerk's office processes all types of liquor license transactions. Some applications can be approved by City staff, but transfer of ownership and new licenses are ultimately approved by the Liquor License Authority.

You will want to visit our Liquor License page to learn more on how to obtain your liquor license.

Collecting Sales Tax on Tips & Gratuities

The City of Aspen recognizes the State of Colorado's requirements on the sales taxability of tips and gratuities.Sales tax must be paid on tips and gratuities that are included in the cost of food served by restaurants, banquet facilities, hotels and caterers, or in the cost of services provided.

Tips and gratuities are subject to tax when one or more of the following apply:

  • They are not separately stated
  • They are collected by the employer and distributed as wages
  • Any portion is retained by the business
  • The business uses them to compensate other persons and not the service providers
  • If, for a large group, the tip gratuity or "service charge" is included in the charge. (If, on a sales receipt, there is a line for service charges specifying a certain age, it is considered a mandatory tip, and tax must be collected on those charges. If, on your menu, you specify that a mandatory tip will be added on for large parties, tax must be collected on those service charges.)

Tips and gratuities are not taxable when they are left on the table or location where the service took place or when they are added to the charge receipt by the customer after the price and tax are calculated.