Massachusetts Laws

Business By leslieannec Updated 19 Jan 2011 , 3:33pm by nmarie

leslieannec Posted 25 Aug 2010 , 7:32pm
post #1 of 21

Hi All,
Just wondering if anyone knew anything about residential kitchens in MA. Here's my dilemma:
I found info online for residential kitchens, which told me to contact my board of health. I did that, and they said that the town doesn't offer residential kitchen permits. However, I called back the state office and they said that all towns are required to in MA. The two offices refuse to talk to each other.

I would really like to make my cake business legit, rather than just baking for family and friends, but I can't seem to get the right info, or work through the system.

Has anyone else found this to be the case in MA? I would especially like to hear from anyone with a business in Dedham.

Thanks!
Leslie

20 replies
jason_kraft Posted 25 Aug 2010 , 7:56pm
post #2 of 21

Have you asked the town about getting a regular retail food or bakery license? You should be able to refer the town to MA state law 105 CMR 590.009 (D)(2), which covers residential kitchens (linked below).

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBMQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mass.gov%2FEeohhs2%2Fdocs%2Fdph%2Fregs%2F105cmr590.pdf&rct=j&q=105%20CMR%20590.000%20&ei=QXR1TLC1M4SesQOHr8Qv&usg=AFQjCNFGm5gPvnI_sNFJ1eS-YS8-6g5uNA&sig2=VzZXoDE8u_a7jV4pJ6TRqQ&cad=rja

leslieannec Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 12:24am
post #3 of 21

They don't offer them for home bakeries. She said that if I really wanted to I could rent a commercial kitchen like the VFW hall and bake there, but it would cost me more to bake there than it would to make the cake. Plus, it's really not an option because I usually bake at all hours of the night.

I found the same laws online, and was surprised to learn that I was already adhering to all of the regulations, so I was very excited to be able to get the permit...alas, no. I am planning on moving out of Dedham within the next two years, and I will pursue the permit wherever I end up, but I didn't want to cause a big stink now, only to move out. Plus, while I only bake for family and friends, I didn't want them to turn around and give me a hard time for that and make it even harder to get the permit when one is available.

jason_kraft Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 12:35am
post #4 of 21

If you're moving out anyway, who cares if you cause a big stink? icon_wink.gif

But if you do decide to pursue this, you may want to contact the attorney general's office (linked below) and let them know that your town is not adhering to state law. You are legally entitled to a permit for your home bakery.

http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=cagoutilities&L=1&sid=Cago&U=Cago_contact_us

If the residential kitchen revision in 105 CMR 590 happened recently, it's possible that the town simply hasn't issued any of those types of permits before and doesn't know the correct procedure if there is state involvement. If that's the case, a call from the AG should straighten them out real fast, and it will also help future Dedham residents who want to bake commercially from home.

leslieannec Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 12:39am
post #5 of 21

Oh no, they were just plain nasty when I called them. At first she acted like she didn't know what I was talking about, but then she finally admitted that some towns offer them, but not Dedham.

The towns can't decide separately not to give the permits?

jason_kraft Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 12:47am
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by leslieannec

Oh no, they were just plain nasty when I called them. At first she acted like she didn't know what I was talking about, but then she finally admitted that some towns offer them, but not Dedham.

The towns can't decide separately not to give the permits?



It's quite clear in MA state law that retail home-based food businesses are licensed and inspected by local boards of health (wholesale home-based food businesses are covered by the state). As long as you are adhering to the rules of the law, the town can't just decide not to issue permits. If the state law said that each town can decide if it wants to license home-based businesses, that would be a different story, but it doesn't say that.

If you can't get anywhere with Dedham you may want to look into registering as a wholesale business, since that is done through the MA Dept of Public Health at the state level. You would also be able to sell your goods to retail stores and restaurants if you had a wholesale license.

chelleb1974 Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 5:45am
post #7 of 21

As far as I understand it (and I have looked into it also), the state has Residential Kitchen regulations. The towns can also impose their own regulations that may be more stringent than the state ones. For example, some towns require a separate kitchen, separate entrance, adherence to zoning laws. The towns can also choose to not issue residential kitchen licenses. It sucks that this is how it works, but it's still better than state that don't have any provisions for them, or outlaw them totally.

~Chelle

cfao Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 12:36pm
post #8 of 21

I have had my residential license for 20 years and chelle is correct, towns can have their own by-laws for in-home businesses. A home 2 towns over from me would have been the perfect location when I started, but even realtors told me 20 years ago to get a home business there was almost impossible. I checked into it & they were right. When I started, my town had no zoning so I could open anywhere in town. That has now changed & I am grandfathered in, but a new business will have to look at commercial property only. Places like Worcester don't allow home bakeries at all. Check with whatever town you are looking at before you buy to so what their laws are.

chelleb1974 Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 1:39pm
post #9 of 21

Thank you cfao! I thought I was remembering it correctly (it's been a while since I did my research).

~Chelle

jason_kraft Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 6:15pm
post #10 of 21

That's a good point about zoning laws -- according to the town bylaws, Dedham seems to allow "industry or light manufacturing" in residential areas, but only in certain districts. See line 7 of page 14 in the PDF link below. This may or may not cover a home bakery, the town would be the ultimate decision maker on that one.

http://www.dedham-ma.gov/index.cfm?pk=download&id=14958&pid=12044

I'm not sure if the town gave you a reason for declining to issue you a permit, but it's my understanding that unless there is a zoning restriction (which there may be in this case) or other specific ordinance that modifies the state law they would have to issue the permit.

leslieannec Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 6:49pm
post #11 of 21

So, saying I either did get the permit, rented a commercial kitchen, or found some other way to LEGALLY bake with the intent of selling the cake, can you point me in the right direction to start a business like that? There are so many posts on this website and I just can't seem to find what to do from there.

jason_kraft Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 7:48pm
post #12 of 21

The most important item on your to-do list should be your business plan. You'll need to work out how much your products will cost you (in terms of both fixed costs such as insurance and licensing and variable costs like ingredients and labor) and how much you can charge. You'll also want to figure out your target market, decide which products to offer, and investigate your competition in the area. A program called Cake Boss may help with some of this.

Finally, you should protect your personal assets by getting liability insurance and forming an LLC. Don't forget to carefully track all your expenses (even before you start the business) because you may be able to deduct some of your startup expenses. If you're not comfortable working with a program like QuickBooks to track your income and expenses you'll probably want to talk to an accountant.

leslieannec Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 8:09pm
post #13 of 21

Thanks. I will check out Cake Boss.

I'm quite an Excel junkie and I work in accounting (although I am not an accountant), so at least that part is easy! It's really the LLC and getting the proper tax ids that makes my head spin.

leslieannec Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 8:13pm
post #14 of 21

I just checked out Cake Boss, and am wondering about the value of it. It seems that I can do the same things in Excel and Access. Am I missing something?

Can any of you suggest where I can find the info to start up a business in MA? I looked online, and I learned how to get a tax id and form an LLC, but don't I need to do something with the financials of the business? I will plan on having an accountant do my books at y/e, but before then, what should I be doing?

jason_kraft Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 8:26pm
post #15 of 21

I had the same question a while ago, and I found this thread that discusses the value of CB vs. QB:
http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=613683&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

Based on my research, if you are good with Excel and QuickBooks you should be OK without CB. I did all our cost analysis and pricing directly in Excel.

I would not recommend doing your accounting with Access unless you already have a full-fledged Access app available. If you have some accounting knowledge you probably don't need a separate accountant -- I have a moderate level of accounting knowledge (my day job is in IT supporting a SAP system for Finance) and it takes me about 20 minutes to fill out our corporate tax return each year since everything is imported automatically from QB (assuming you enter your invoices and expenses throughout the year and your chart of accounts is set up correctly).

Regarding setting up the LLC and tax ID, I've found that Legalzoom.com does a pretty good job helping people through that process at both the state and federal level.

kelleym Posted 26 Aug 2010 , 8:40pm
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

I had the same question a while ago, and I found this thread that discusses the value of CB vs. QB:
http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=613683&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0



I just want to clarify that the referenced thread is about the original version of CakeBoss, which has been retired.

Check out What's New for 2010 to see all the cool stuff that was added! thumbs_up.gif

leslieannec Posted 27 Aug 2010 , 3:13am
post #17 of 21

thanks! I will check it out!

nmarie Posted 19 Jan 2011 , 1:27pm
post #18 of 21

leslieannec, could you tell me if you ended up being able to get licensed for your residential kitchen? I just bought a house in Freetown and then called the local Board of Health to find out how to get licensed, only to find out that they do not license residential kitchens WHATSOEVER in Freetown. I had no idea! This was my goal for owning my own home! Now I'm stuck! icon_cry.gif

The lady at the Mass DPH told me that a wholesale residential kitchen would have to get licensed through the local BOH the same way, so there would really be no way around it.

The lady at the local BOH told me the only way I could possibly do it would be if I was to get re-zoned, and that would basically be impossible.

leslieannec Posted 19 Jan 2011 , 2:56pm
post #19 of 21

I was not able to get a license. I live in Dedham, and the woman that I spoke to was completely unhelpful. Dedham does not grant them either and she said there is no way around it. She actually suggested that I rent the kitchen at the VFW hall to bake in. Yeah, right! It would cost the price of the cake to do that!

I do plan to buy a house in the next couple of years, so I will have to limit my search to towns that do license residential kitchens. I'm so sorry that happened to you!

Dizzymaiden Posted 19 Jan 2011 , 3:20pm
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by leslieannec

Hi All,
Just wondering if anyone knew anything about residential kitchens in MA. Here's my dilemma:
I found info online for residential kitchens, which told me to contact my board of health. I did that, and they said that the town doesn't offer residential kitchen permits. However, I called back the state office and they said that all towns are required to in MA. The two offices refuse to talk to each other.

Has anyone else found this to be the case in MA? I would especially like to hear from anyone with a business in Dedham.

Thanks!
Leslie




Leslie - I am in a nearby town and have the same issue. The issue is getting the health department involved. Once you get "certfified" the rest is suppose to get easier. I think I would rather rent space until I get my own kitchen up to speed. Have you ever thought of sharing a space/rent?

nmarie Posted 19 Jan 2011 , 3:33pm
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by leslieannec

I was not able to get a license. I live in Dedham, and the woman that I spoke to was completely unhelpful. Dedham does not grant them either and she said there is no way around it. She actually suggested that I rent the kitchen at the VFW hall to bake in. Yeah, right! It would cost the price of the cake to do that!

I do plan to buy a house in the next couple of years, so I will have to limit my search to towns that do license residential kitchens. I'm so sorry that happened to you!




Thanks, same to you icon_sad.gif

The local BOH also suggested that I rent a space at the VFW or a church. The whole point is to make a profit - and that would defeat the purpose... If I didn't want to make a profit, I'd just keep doing what I'm doing, baking for family and friends. I guess that's what I'm going to have to do icon_cry.gif

Good luck in your search for a new home. Make sure you do lots of homework beforehand so you don't end up in the situation I'm in!

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