Not Sure What To Do Now...

Business By SweetDreamsBoutique Updated 2 Nov 2011 , 10:58pm by SweetDreamsBoutique

SweetDreamsBoutique Posted 2 Nov 2011 , 3:23pm
post #1 of 4

I've been doing cakes/cupcakes for friends and family for almost two years now. Word has definitely been spreading about my cakes, which is awesome...however, my state won't allow cakes to be made from the home unless we have a second commercial kitchen. Long story short, I received a call last week from the dept of agriculture because someone went all the way to the top to report an "unlicensed business". Believe me when I say that it has always been my intention to open a business legally, but with not completely knowing what to do and lack of money, it has been very difficult. (I stay at home with my 3 yr old and my husband takes our one car to work every day so what little money, if any, I bring in has to go to bills). My guess is that the call was made from another bakery, since there were no complaints about my product. The county lady actually told my husband that she was very impressed with my work and they are being very helpful and supportive.

So we looked into converting our garage into a kitchen. Unfortunately, the water dept won't allow that for our house. Then, we looked at renting a kitchen. Not looking so good on that end either. The commercial rental kitchens are far away and cost way more money than I would be bringing in at this point. Our church won't allow it because of their liability. Another option is to get a food truck/food trailer or just bite the bullet and work on getting a store front. I don't even know what to do. I'm so heartbroken about the whole thing. I'm starting a business plan because I'm guessing thats the first real step. But when it comes to getting loans/investors I get really scared. I haven't worked in 3 years, since my son was born, my credit is not great, and neither is my husband's. Our debt to income ratio is much higher than it should be and I fear no one will give us the loan that we would need.

If anyone has any suggestions or maybe has been through a similar situation, I would love to know how it turned out.

3 replies
jason_kraft Posted 2 Nov 2011 , 3:58pm
post #2 of 4

One option might be to talk to restaurants (or even other bakeries) in the area to see if you can work out a deal where you can use their kitchen during downtime. Many states also have an exception for personal chefs, so if you can make your products in the customer's kitchen you might be exempt from inspection.

If none of these options work out, you can still make cakes for friends and family but you just can't charge for them, at least until GA passes a cottage food law.

BTW you may not have been reported by anyone, some health departments will look on their own for food service businesses in the area and cross-reference the business names with their list of who is licensed. For example, your business appears when you do a Google search for "bakery near loganville, ga".

cupadeecakes Posted 2 Nov 2011 , 7:18pm
post #3 of 4

I was in a very similar situation. I was making cakes for friends and family on the weekends and wanted to do it full time. I started saving every red cent I could scrape together and even took UGA small business courses at my local college. They said there was nothing wrong with writing a business plan, but they also said that the banks wouldn't look at it. They want cold, hard collateral (like your house).

So I got a job at a local pastry kitchen and worked for almost nothing, but I learned a lot about the business side of things. Almost a year of working from 4am - 6pm six days a week (on salary I might add) and I was ready to break out on my own.

I live in GA too and to be legal I had to build an addition on to my house, get a 1000 gallon grease trap, and run lots of additional septic lines throughout my back yard. I did the math and taking out a second mortgage for the home addition was still less overhead than getting a retail space. All told, I put almost 50k into the the addition and the items I needed to open my business. That was about 7 years ago and my business grows every year.

And GA is pretty keen on watching and catching unlicensed food vendors, but they have been nice to deal with IMO. And don't assume that any dept will speak to any other dept. Go to the health dept, the zoning dept, all the departments yourself and get anything said in writing. And expect them to fight - the health dept didn't want a connecting door from my home to my kitchen - some other dept (zoning maybe) insisted on it. I got both together and let them fight it out. I did the the door though.

I would recommend a book to you called "The Practical Dreamer's Handbook". It's about converting your dreams into reality and it what initially got my wheels turning about opening my own cake business.

I wish you the best of luck in making your dream a reality.

SweetDreamsBoutique Posted 2 Nov 2011 , 10:58pm
post #4 of 4

Unfortunately we are on sewer and we would have to have a grease inteceptor put in which there's not room for. If we were on septic, it would be a lot easier. Thanks for your help! I know bigger and better things will come out of this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cupadeecakes

I was in a very similar situation. I was making cakes for friends and family on the weekends and wanted to do it full time. I started saving every red cent I could scrape together and even took UGA small business courses at my local college. They said there was nothing wrong with writing a business plan, but they also said that the banks wouldn't look at it. They want cold, hard collateral (like your house).

So I got a job at a local pastry kitchen and worked for almost nothing, but I learned a lot about the business side of things. Almost a year of working from 4am - 6pm six days a week (on salary I might add) and I was ready to break out on my own.

I live in GA too and to be legal I had to build an addition on to my house, get a 1000 gallon grease trap, and run lots of additional septic lines throughout my back yard. I did the math and taking out a second mortgage for the home addition was still less overhead than getting a retail space. All told, I put almost 50k into the the addition and the items I needed to open my business. That was about 7 years ago and my business grows every year.

And GA is pretty keen on watching and catching unlicensed food vendors, but they have been nice to deal with IMO. And don't assume that any dept will speak to any other dept. Go to the health dept, the zoning dept, all the departments yourself and get anything said in writing. And expect them to fight - the health dept didn't want a connecting door from my home to my kitchen - some other dept (zoning maybe) insisted on it. I got both together and let them fight it out. I did the the door though.

I would recommend a book to you called "The Practical Dreamer's Handbook". It's about converting your dreams into reality and it what initially got my wheels turning about opening my own cake business.

I wish you the best of luck in making your dream a reality.


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