Funny Business with Jane Wells

California Town Shuts Down Free Doughnut Giveaway

Donut and Coffee
Brian Hagiwara | FoodPix | Getty Images

There's nothing better than free food.


For more than a dozen years, the B&B Do It Center in Camarillo, CA, has been offering free doughnuts and coffee to customers. Not anymore.

An anonymous "customer" (maybe a rival store?) called the health department. Now, in what some in this town consider a complete overreach of government, the county has told the store the freebies have to go. They violate food-handling regulations.

No more "pink box of love" as one customer describes the doughnuts. No more hot cup o' Joe.

According to the Ventura County Star, co-owner Randy Collins wasn't aware he was violating the rules. "We've been doing this since we bought the place 15 years ago, and the previous owner was doing it, too," he tells the newspaper.

The health department says that if Collins wants to give away doughnuts and coffee, he'll need to install "stainless steel sinks with hot and cold water and have a prep kitchen to handle the food." A prep kitchen. For a box of doughnuts? "Where the public has access to food, permitting is required," says Ventura County health official Elizabeth Huff.

Reaction from customers? "I was a little outraged," says Ty Brann, a long time customer who owns a pest control and landscaping business. "I thought it had to be a joke."

I called the hardware store this morning to see if there's any update. "No," I was told. Store management doesn't want to make too big a deal out of this. Who needs the hassle? But 75-year-old Thomas Frye of Camarillo told the Star, "We've abandoned common sense where the need for licenses and fees are more important than tradition."

A friend suggested to me that instead of giving away coffee and doughnuts, B&B Do It Center start handing out tea and crumpets and hold a Tea Party rally. Just...Do It?

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