I have been considering starting up a home based cake decorating business, and if not for this forum, it never would've even occured to me to look into whether it is legal to operate from home or not. Well, I haven't been able to find anything on cake decorating specifically, but in the specialized requirements for caterers on the website I'm looking through, it says, "catering directly from a residential kitchen is not permitted as a home based business". I'm guessing that it would be the same for cakes! This is such a bummer.
The wheels in my head are turning a bit though, and I have a good family friend who owns a catering company and has a commercial kitchen, in which she does all her preparation... I wonder if she would let me rent her kitchen as needed? Does anybody else have arrangements similar to this? I'm not really sure how to approach her, but I'd still love to hear any stories anybody else might have.
Also wanted to say sorry to anyone else who has had this happen to them! This SUCKS big time!
Some states do allow home-based commercial food service businesses, what state do you live in?
Regarding your other question, many smaller bakeries will rent space in a commercial kitchen that has already been licensed by the local health department. It's great that you have a friend who has one, since rented space can be hard to find in some areas. The usual going rate for renting commercial kitchen space is $10-25/hour depending on the area and the amenities. Once you are set up, you will probably need to pass a health department inspection in the kitchen (this is separate from your friend's inspection) and you will need a food safety certificate.
I would also strongly recommend getting liability insurance and creating an LLC to protect your personal assets.
As always, contact your local or state health department if you have questions.
Jason, I am in Canada. I really appreciate the info- you've been very helpful.
I have an arrangment like this, somewhat. I have friends that own a location that is rented out for parties, weddings, etc. They have a large commercial kitchen they use for food preparation, etc for the events they cater. I use their kitchen - and when I say use, I mean use. THEY DO NOT CHARGE ME! How I lucked into this I have no idea but I am very lucky
Maybe a good approach would be an exchange situation. You could work for them in exchange for the use of their kitchen or maybe make deserts for them, etc. You'll never know until you ask.
Being a ''good family friend'', just ask!!!!
And do look into your own insurance, inspection, etc.
Call the health department directly and ask if cakes fall under the umbrella of catering. Where I am you can't cater out of a home kitchen, but cakes are considered low-risk, so you can do cakes as long as that's all you're doing. It wouldn't hurt to investigate further.