Skip to content

HoodMart Blog

Is California on Its Way to New Regulations for BBQ Restaurants?


When you imagine a steak cooking to perfection, what does it look like? Whether you imagine it lying on a charcoal or wood-fired grill, one thing is likely true: You imagine that it’s surrounded by smoke. In fact, cooking up steaks and other BBQ favorites does cause quite a bit of smoke. As of today, that smoke isn’t regulated by any of the air pollution controls in California – but that may change.

The changes may come to San Joaquin Valley first

The first place we’ve heard about changes afoot is San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. They actually want to provide equipment that would help restaurants remove smoke. The reality is that commercial ventilation systems can be costly and many of the BBQ restaurants in question aren’t in a position to buy them.

That’s why the district is considering giving them away for free – for now. There would be a trial period during which the BBQ spots wouldn’t pay anything for this new equipment. The district wants to do this so that they can try out a few different ventilation systems to see which one works best for trapping emissions.

It’s understandable that this district wants to get all the facts before they put requirements on businesses. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to require these companies to install equipment to minimize the smoke, only to later discover that it wasn’t the right equipment, or that there is better equipment out there.

So far there is one restaurant that’s using the smoke limiting equipment. In nearby Bay Area, there are some tentative plans to limit restaurant smoke. It will be interesting to see if the results of San Joaquin Valley will have an effect on what happens elsewhere not just in California but across the world. We imagine that the impact will be significant.

We’d rather see less specific requirements

While we at Hoodmart aren’t necessarily against these requirements, we do hope that the cities and localities that implement them will be sure to set guidelines as requirements, rather than insisting on certain equipment being used. Otherwise, a food truck may have the same equipment requirements as a 10,000 square foot brick and mortar restaurant.

We want to ensure that every restaurant has its individual needs met. That won’t be possible if a city requires a specific type of equipment for all restaurants.

Back to top ^