Mobile Cake Business (Tx) Help!

Business By TXcakeGirl Updated 26 Oct 2010 , 10:25pm by -K8memphis

TXcakeGirl Posted 23 Oct 2010 , 8:33pm
post #1 of 13

I'm currently doing cakes for friends and family looking to get a legal business. I am looking into starting a mobile cake/cupcake trailer. Beyond the mobile food requirements in Texas, does anyone know if you have to have a fixed location (commissary) to operate from (baking/decorating/etc) or can all of this be done on board the mobile food trailer? I would love some advice! I know a lot of mobile cupcake bakeries operate in Texas, but am unsure if they are "tied" to a fixed location?!?

TIA!

12 replies
playingwithsugar Posted 23 Oct 2010 , 8:42pm
post #2 of 13

That depends upon where you live. Some states/cities allow trucks to travel all over town. Then the business tweets their location to customers on Twitter, and people go where they are.

Where I live, the food carts are stationary, and must have consent from the property owner to park their cart in front of their property.

Not long ago, the businesses in the city next to where I live tried to shut down a frankfurter cart because he was paying a parking meter to use a metered space near them. He fought and beat them at the city council meeting.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

TXcakeGirl Posted 23 Oct 2010 , 8:49pm
post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by playingwithsugar

That depends upon where you live. Some states/cities allow trucks to travel all over town. Then the business tweets their location to customers on Twitter, and people go where they are.

Where I live, the food carts are stationary, and must have consent from the property owner to park their cart in front of their property.

Not long ago, the businesses in the city next to where I live tried to shut down a frankfurter cart because he was paying a parking meter to use a metered space near them. He fought and beat them at the city council meeting.

Theresa icon_smile.gif




Thanks for the quick reply! I understand the stationary/transient vendor requirements. More than anything I am wondering if (parked at a local business or transient) can cupcakes/cakes/etc be prepared in the vehicle? OR do you need a fixed location to make the cupcakes (making the pre-packaged)?? This may be a local city/county requirement as well?!?!?

I am in the DFW area (Tarrant County) if that helps with any clarification.

Each of the cities/counties that I plan to conduct business the physical requirements will be met (the trailer will be built from the ground up according to Health Department requirements), but according to operational requirements (City of Arlington) "OpReq b. Only fast cooked food items may be prepared on the unit." & "All mobile food srvice trucks must operate from a permitted commissary." This is what I'm questioning, will I be required to have a permanent fixed location in addition to a roaming trailer?? AHHH!!! icon_eek.gif

cakesdivine Posted 23 Oct 2010 , 11:34pm
post #4 of 13

If you are going to service Arlington then yes it clearly states that only fast foods can be made in the trucks. Baked goods must use a commercial licensed "commissary" to produce the food in. The answer is right there. So yes you will have to have a fixed location in addition to the mobile truck. Just contact the other cities you might be servicing to find out if they too require the same.

TXcakeGirl Posted 23 Oct 2010 , 11:39pm
post #5 of 13

Yes, unfortunately after more research (other cities/counties/states even) I found that even unrestricted mobile food trucks/trailers that have the capability for storage and prep must have a commissary to purchase & store materials & truck and clean trailer daily. I guess I will be in search of a restaurant/church to serve a commissary or looking for my own commercial space to open up first!

Thanks for your help!!!

jason_kraft Posted 23 Oct 2010 , 11:48pm
post #6 of 13

Have you considered starting out renting commercial kitchen space without a retail storefront, and selling your products wholesale, at farmer's markets, and/or partnering with local coffee shops? Retail storefronts (even mobile ones) typically involve a huge amount of overhead in terms of both time and money.

TXcakeGirl Posted 23 Oct 2010 , 11:57pm
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Have you considered starting out renting commercial kitchen space without a retail storefront, and selling your products wholesale, at farmer's markets, and/or partnering with local coffee shops? Retail storefronts (even mobile ones) typically involve a huge amount of overhead in terms of both time and money.




I've looked at renting commercial kitchens. Unfortunately, the only true commercial kitchen space is 35+ minutes away from me and the rates seem a bit high to me ($25/hour). I have been approached by the local's farmers market for selling there, but until I'm legal I can't sell.

Any advice on how to approach the situation from this angle? I know that the topic of commercial kitchen space rental has been covered to death on the site (churches, lion's clubs, community centers, restaurants, donut shops) etc. But, at the current income I am producing without a small business loan I wouldn't be financially able to rent at $25/hr. Given, I am only working maybe 2 cakes a weekend for friends/family/referrals. I would really like to dedicate my full-time to this.

I would love input! The no-cottage law in Texas really puts a damper on home-bakers.

Hamari Posted 24 Oct 2010 , 5:42pm
post #8 of 13

I would advise a discussion with your local health department...If you are planning on using a mobile building, but keeping it at a fixed location you may have a pretty easy time getting it approved.
I am doing exactly the same thing myself, and the health dept was great, very helpful...I told them exactly what I was doing (Small scale cake shop, out of a mobile building, at a fixed location) They directed me to the mobile and concession trailer regulations, which outlined the requirements...holding tanks, water tanks, sink requirements, etc...Basically it requires plans to be approved, and certain materials for walls, floors, counters, etc...
Best of Success!

-K8memphis Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 1:56pm
post #9 of 13

To me, I think there's two ways to do this. From the home where it is legal is one then the other is jump off the cliff and open a full blown place with employees and the whole nine yards, business plan, big loan, big deal, big money.

To me there's no way to really do this properly by nickel & diming it unless your locality allows a home operation.

No offense but two cakes a week is nothing to what could be the driving force to open a full fledged business with commercial property. We have to push out and think business.

For example, if you had rent of $500/mo that would incur about another $500 of utilites, insurance and phone and other monthly expenses give or take. And I'm low balling it here. So that means that every month you have to produce $1000 of sales just to pay the overhead--this does not count the $150-$200 to buy the ingredients to create $1000 in sales. Not does it include employees--like someone to wash the dishes to save your aching back from the making of the product.

continued...

-K8memphis Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 2:10pm
post #10 of 13

So in Texas, doing in the home, unless you're Earlene, is out.

So to me you totally need to think much much much much bigger. I'm not being a Debbie Downer--I'm saying if you're going to go for it you have to go for being a business person first and a baker/decorator second.

Learn the business side of it--do your market study--see what's out there for you. A few friends and acquiantances hitting you up regularly for cake are not the seeds for a commercial business.

I don't know what it is about baked goods but anyone who can turn out a nice muffin gets the "you should open a business" line. Apples and orange roughy.

So your internal question should be how big can I be rather than how small can I start. Learn business. What's your break even point? What's the rent in your area? What direction are you going? You're talking about a retail place with walk-up customers and decorated cake for parties --those are two very different markets and two differently run establishments with different rules & regulations.

Not to mention doing decorated cake out of a mobile location will incur the wrath of the weather--very difficult to prepare masterpieces 'out of doors'.

Focus and learn how to be in business.

kelleym Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 9:09pm
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by -K8memphis

So in Texas, doing in the home, unless you're Earlene, is out.



As far as I know, Earlene has (or had) a separate, legal kitchen, although she is not currently selling cakes.

The issue in Texas is that you cannot use your own home's kitchen, the same one where you live and prepare food for your family, for a food business.

But yes, the true problem is that there is no legal way to operate profitably on a small scale. That is why the Cottage Foods movement is so important. http://www.texascottagefoodlaw.com - be sure to sign the petition and "like" our Facebook page!

TXcakeGirl Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 9:27pm
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by kelleym

Quote:
Originally Posted by -K8memphis

So in Texas, doing in the home, unless you're Earlene, is out.


As far as I know, Earlene has (or had) a separate, legal kitchen, although she is not currently selling cakes.

The issue in Texas is that you cannot use your own home's kitchen, the same one where you live and prepare food for your family, for a food business.

But yes, the true problem is that there is no legal way to operate profitably on a small scale. That is why the Cottage Foods movement is so important. http://www.texascottagefoodlaw.com - be sure to sign the petition and "like" our Facebook page!




Yes I'm very active in promoting the Cottage Food movement. Earlene's case is one of a few where her garage conversion was approved by local health department. Unfortunately, being an Arlington resident, I have a huge hurdle with the health department. I spoke with them yesterday, and unless it is an actual storefront it cannot be approved (Mobile bldg, fixed or transient location). So, until financially I am able to afford the huge start-up capital required or move somewhere with a relaxed health department - I will continue to hope for the sake of all home bakers that the Texas government approves the Cottage Law next year!

I appreciate the understanding of not wanting to undertake huge debt financing and continue a small scale operation at this time but with the mind to make it "legal". As it was so obviously stated, the size of my current capabilities do not warrant the financing/capital required to open a store front...and in Texas - the only option for the "home baker" is to make it legal (commercial kitchen rental), hope your local HD has empathy for the situation and offers feasible solutions, or continue about your business & hope that home bakers will be allowed soon enough! icon_smile.gif

Go Rangers! icon_biggrin.gif

-K8memphis Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 10:25pm
post #13 of 13

We've got allowances here in TN for being able to produce goods for Farmer's Market from home. However in my county decorated cake comes under catering rules & regulations. So there's cottage laws and there's cottage laws. Each county interprets differently.

http://www.earlenescakes.com/business03.htm
Earlene got her own cakery going in her garage then got turned in and then she got it approved.

The thing about most businesses is that they are led by entrepreneurs who are willing to risk other people's money to attain success. It's a gamble. One needs so much more than a great product and more than thousands of dollars too. You gotta have or get a business brain.

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