How To Start A Cake Decorating Business In New York State

Business By Tonias_Sweet_Shoppe_09 Updated 10 Oct 2009 , 2:52pm by cutthecake

Tonias_Sweet_Shoppe_09 Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 5:51am
post #1 of 8

Hi, I have been decorating cakes for 5 years and just this year started selling cakes to friends and family and neighbors. Now I would like to start doing wedding cakes and bringing cakes to wedding banquets. I have heard that you need to have a separate kitchen or you need to go to the church kitchen or VFW hall kitchen to bake your cakes. Both of these options are impossible for me. I am a stay at home mom of 3 kids ages 5, 4 and 1.

There is no way we would make mods to our kitchen just to satisfy this need. At least my husband would never agree to it in our current house. Maybe our future house, yes, but not this one. Also, there is no way I could just up and go to another place to bake. I have my kids to think about. I can't be dragging them to kitchens to bake.

I just want a Monroe County certification or a Wayne county certification that I can show

BUT I know that many people do this without a license. But what do they do if they get caught and the bride is without a cake??? I really don't want that to happen to me!!
Thanks for any advice.

7 replies
SugarFiend Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 11:36am
post #2 of 8

Hi Tonia! I too, am in NYS, looking to go legal. And also a SAHM of 3, ages 5, almost 2, and almost 2 (twins). I know there's a sticky at the top of this forum that lists states that will license home kitchens, and I don't think NYS is included. BUT...

I've done a bit of research and calling around myself. I get conflicting answers depending on who I call. The gentleman at my county health department tells me that licensing my home kitchen is next to impossible, yet I'm aware of a decorator in my county who advertises that she bakes out of her licensed home kitchen. icon_confused.gif

So I called the head of the kitchen incubator in a neighboring county to look into setting myself up legally there, but he FIRMLY insisted that in NYS, home baking falls under the Department of Agriculture - and that my home kitchen can be licensed for limited, non-perishable products under an exemption from the 20C Home Processors License. (If I were to do perishable products, such as fillings and icings that require refrigeration, I would need to get the 20C Home Processors License to the tune of $400 or so for the license alone.) Interestingly, part of the requirements for this license is NO commercial equipment in your home kitchen. icon_confused.gif So I don't think licensing a home kitchen, if it's truly possible, would required re-outfitting your kitchen.

I would really hope that the head of a kitchen incubator meant for helping new food businesses get off the ground would know what he was talking about, but I can't speak for his credibility on this issue. I called him about setting myself up at his incubator so that I could be legal, and he basically talked me out of it - which tells me that he's convinced he's right, at least in his own county.

I have yet to actually get in contact (although not for lack of trying!) with the Department of Agriculture rep in my own county to confirm this information. But even if he does tell me I can be licensed out of my home, I'm probably still going to be skeptical. I suspect that it *can* fall under the Department of Ag, as long as local health departments are okay with it. My county, however, seems like it's not.

Here's an example: In most of the country, NYS included, it's perfectly legal to turn right on red, right? In NYC, it's not. NYC is part of NYS where it's legal, but you still get ticketed for turning right on red in NYC.

I know, this has been a lot of blabber for very little information. That's NY for ya! LOL I'm not sure where Wayne or Monroe counties are, but I hope they're more helpful for you than my county has been! I'm pretty sure that the 20C Home Processors License - or an exemption from it - is key. Then again, it might be like turning right on red in NYC. icon_cry.gif

peg818 Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 12:00pm
post #3 of 8

Contact the department of agriculture in albany. The can give you a certificate for a home processor. Big thing is you can't advertise, but you can wholesale out. You can only make certain things and you are allowed to do farmers markets. You need to find out what your town zoning laws are, and as long as zoning allows you to do it you should be okay. If you don't have village water you will need to have your water tested.

Good luck to you.

msulli10 Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 12:14pm
post #4 of 8

This is all very helpful since I am also from NY, but on Long Island. I read somewhere that it is the Dept of Agriculture but I thought you needed a separate kitchen. I was waiting until I retire to make all these calls - maybe I should start now. I think that each county is different AND each Township -no wonder you can't get a straight answer.

SugarFiend Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 12:42pm
post #5 of 8

Oh no... Not each township too... I'm already so confuzzled! icon_cry.gif

peg818 Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 1:22pm
post #6 of 8
Originally Posted by SugarFiend

Oh no... Not each township too... I'm already so confuzzled! icon_cry.gif

unfortunately yes, i think its worse the closer you are to civilization

jl5949 Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 1:47pm
post #7 of 8

I also live in Dutchess County and have done a lot of research on this subject. I've spoken to the DOA and was told that you can have your home inspected for a home processor license. In order to have that license you can not have any commercial equipment in the home. You can not sell on the Internet, you can not sell wedding cakes and you can only sell to wholesalers such as a farmers market. If you want a commercial kitchen in your home you can have that too but you have to have all commerical equipment and the room has to have a seperate entrance and no entrance into the house from the room. If you plan on doing this without a commercial license be very careful. You don't want to get sued by some nut job and lose your everything. Where is everyone from in NY?

cutthecake Posted 10 Oct 2009 , 2:52pm
post #8 of 8

In NY, you have to deal with state, county and town/village regulations. And the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health. And count on getting contradictory information. Just when you think you have it figured out, someone bursts your balloon.
In my Westchester town, I was told no "manufacturing" of any kind, including baking, was allowed in the home, although the county allowed certain things (with restrictions).
I think the more rural counties are less restrictive (farmers' markets, etc); and NYC, LI and Westchester are tougher. (Maybe Nassau and Suffolk counties have different regulations.)
Then, as a legitimate business owner, you have to deal with NYS sales tax, federal tax filings, and all that other fun government and legal stuff.
I bet you could learn a great deal from your local small business association.
Good luck.

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