Small businesses using shared kitchens need to beware of regulations

shared kitchenOperating a new catering company or food-related business is difficult to do from home, so the concept of shared kitchens is compelling. Rent space or buy a membership to a shared facility, and a budding chef gets access to commercial equipment in a sanitary space. In many locales, it's great way to grow a home-based business into something more, but beware the local authorities. This Chicago confectioner found out the hard way that city regulations can be confusing and unfair.
The Chicago Tribune's Monica Eng has been reporting on this story since Friday, when city health inspectors destroyed food at Kitchen Chicago. Inspectors have since returned and ruined more. Hundreds of pounds of food destroyed and small businesses at risk because Chicago doesn't have a plan or clear list of rules for small food purveyors to follow. There was nothing wrong with the food, the paperwork just wasn't in order.

Shared kitchens are a great resource for small catering companies or specialty-food start ups. In this case, Kitchen Chicago had the proper license from the city Health Department, but Flora Lazar was told she needed a separate business license for her candy company, which resulted in an inspector visit. In fact, all 11 tenants at Kitchen Chicago apparently need a license to use a licensed facility.

On the one hand is public health concerns, all legitimate. Making sure the kitchen and food preparation meets sanitary codes is critical. So is being able to track the food in case of a food-borne illness. But how many licenses does it take to safeguard the public?

There's an argument to be made that Chicago is just looking for cash by selling licenses. The city gets $660 per license. Requiring the 11 tenants of Kitchen Chicago and the kitchen itself to be licensed brings in more than $7,000.

Other cities are more business friendly. In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is allocating money to sponsor a shared-use kitchen in East Harlem, to boost economic development. Aspiring chefs looking to start a business need to look closely at the local laws and regulations. Chicago's Flora Lazar's candy business has to sit out this Valentines Day and work that much harder to succeed, or even survive.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Banking Services 101

Understand your bank's services, and how to get the most from them

View Course »

Investing in Real Estate

Learn the basics of investing in real estate.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

2 Comments

Filter by:
dgknapp59

Please keep in mind this article is almost 4 years old. Granted some cities use anything as a way to generate revenue and Chicago has long been known for it's style of government. I think if you will research it yourself, you will find these shared-kitchens which are now all across the country provide a great opportunity to those who don't want or need the overhead of a commercial kitchen but have the use for one from time to time.

October 13 2013 at 8:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Prep Atlanta

PREP Cook-Create-Connect was established with one goal in mind – to help build and support small food businesses in Metro Atlanta by providing state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, resources, food procurement and guidance to a talented and creative class of entrepreneurs. Specialty food producers, caterers and mobile food service operators, along with the next generation of food artisans, will have all of their needs met in one place. Welcome to PREP!

PREP will be fully licensed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Agriculture and by the DeKalb County Environmental Health Department.
For More information visit our website http://www.prepatl.com

3300 Marjan Drive
Atlanta, GA
30340
404-920-4150
www.prepatl.com
Shared Kitchen Atlanta
Commercial Kitchen For Rent In Atlanta
Show kitchen in Atlanta
Food Truck Kitchen in Atlanta By Prep

August 22 2013 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply