Denver Waives 2021 Restaurant Renewal Licensing Fees to Support COVID-19 Recovery

January 13, 2021

As part of a continued effort to support restaurant and bars who have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City and County of Denver is waiving the 2021 renewal fees for the required retail food establishment license, which include any retail operation that serves, stores, prepares or packages food for sale for consumption to consumers directly, or indirectly through a delivery service. Renewal fees for this license range from approximately $125-$400 per location.

Denver is taking this action following passage of State Bill 20B-001 last month, which authorized the waiver of annual retail food license fees for restaurants and food vendors through December 2021 and allows counties to contract with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to receive state funding reimbursement. The City and County of Denver received $774,000 in retail food establishment renewal fees in 2020. These fees provide the funds to support food safety inspections, licensing and enforcement of rules and regulations to protect public safety.

Licensing is still required. Business that have already paid their retail food establishment renewal fees for 2021 can call 311 and request a refund from the Department of Excise and Licenses.

There are currently 1,571 licensed retail food establishments in the City and County of Denver. That is down 36 percent from the 2,428 licensed retail food establishments pre COIVD-19 pandemic on February 28, 2020. Applications for new retail food establishments in 2020 dropped 58 percent compared to 2019 as fewer new restaurants opened during the pandemic.

The City and County of Denver continues to support restaurants and bars to expand safe serving capacity outdoors with the temporary outdoor dining program. Information and an online application for the program are accepted at Denver has approved 358 applications since the creation of the program in May 2020. A total of 255 businesses have applied and received approval to continue operating expanded outdoor serving areas after an extension of the program through October.