Commercial Kitchen Advice

Business By havealittle Updated 12 Feb 2013 , 5:04pm by havealittle

havealittle Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 3:48am
post #1 of 19

Need some advice,


I live in a small town in PA (Waynesboro)...the nearest commercial kitchen is nearly 2 hours away. And although the price and kitchen is perfect. Driving 4 hours round trip to make cupcakes or not fun or ideal. I used it for a huge market day sale, which made sense...but the 4 hour drive 2 days in a row was a lot to add to 5 hours of baking each day.


I have a local church that contacted me about using their kitchen. The pastor was very excited and wanted to help me out...and thus help the community out. (I have attended several town events and they are excited about me opening up a brick and mortar building, but that is still at least 10+ months away) The pastor talked to the churches' attorney and I guess he got some push back from the attorney, since they are non-profit. I have seen on TV shows (cupcake wars and chopped) where they have their catering out of church kitchens. And I know I have seen a few people say they do so on this forum....


I am going to meet with the pastor once again this week, again he is for this....but what I need is some tips to help with the attorney or church members or etc...Those that do rent from churches...what is the setup? They have a food bank and I told them that when I bake, I can make some for the food bank or make a donation...or etc...He said the biggest issue with the attorney is that they are a nonprofit and I would be for profit. But I know that churches rent their building for weddings, I just got married and paid a nice building "fee" for the I thought maybe I could use that as idea...


Any feedback would be great. I have tried local restaurants (some do not even have ovens??? anyways) I tried the VFW, Moose, and fire houses...I have looked up and knocked on so many doors it isn't funny. The only place that seemed interested was a pizza place...but they didn't think the hours would work, since they used their kitchen 20 hours a day, when closed they prep for the next day.


If anyone has suggestions let me know...I even posted on craigslist...LOL


Oh...I am licensed and have insurance and ServSafe certified....


Thank you!



18 replies
-K8memphis Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 4:26am
post #2 of 19

well this might not be your favorite post but i think the attorney has something there


a non-profit is not defined by how much money they make--it's just about tax exemption


and unfortunately i think it's a valid argument that if a non-profit is 'harboring or hosting' a for profit it risks it's tax exempt status to do so


i know first hand the story of another church bookstore (i launched & managed one) that got a nice write up in the local paper for it's renovation job including that they were going to be serving starbucks coffee in the store


whoa ho ho--the state clamped down on them hard and wrapped them up in some serious legal mumbo jumbo that was mucho unpleasant/scary for them for some time not to mention financially ruinous if the state had prevailed


of course they got out of it eventually because they were only brewing and serving starbucks brand coffee not a real starbucks kiosk or anything like that--


so i think the attorney is right


sure non-profits make money for weddings and whatever--but a for profit cannot really be umbrella-ed under a non-profit because the state can take away their tax exempt status--most churches would go under if they had to pay property tax etc.


every church in the country would have more businesses running in them if it were allowed--


not to mention the building fee for a wedding goes to pay a lot of people to do thier jobs before during and after weddings, the lights, the heat/air conditioning, the parking lot, maintenance and everything else--i'm not saying they did not profit some from your wedding

havealittle Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 4:32am
post #3 of 19

understand....on your note about the starbucks...I went to a church in Texas that did sell, cups and etc...not sure how they got around it. And the church I go to now sells baked goods and coffee, they reached out to me to sell cupcakes there..LOL...but my church does not have a commercial kitchen like the other one. I know there is a loophole, because I have heard of people using the kitchens. Thanks for your advice...and advice on a finding a commercial kitchen? I have about given up and I am not going to drive 4 hours to bake a cake and etc...with price of gas and travel I would never make a profit...LOL.

-K8memphis Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 4:54am
post #4 of 19

lots of churches sell lots of things--i managed a bookstore--we sold snacks, doughnuts, pastries that i made, coffee, drinks, books and gifts, jewelry etc. but it was all under the umbrella of the non-profit--everything had to be done very carefully--the store was never advertised outside it's little place within the church confines


a bakery like this operating in the building is not under the ministry of the church

churches can have only have so many 'fund raisers' a year without getting penalized or taxed or smitten by god or something--icon_biggrin.gif--i can't remember the consequence but what a tangled mess taxes and all that stuff is--even for non-profits who don't pay them!


there is no loophole--but people can get away with it for a while and maybe forever but the risk is genuine--it all depends on who the tax & legal people are in that area


i'd recommend avoiding advertising if you continue


no easy way huh


wish it were different--you might could get away with it but might as well do it at home for all that

havealittle Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 5:00am
post #5 of 19


Sassyzan Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 5:46am
post #6 of 19

AI don't see how this is a problem. The church will be making money on renting your facility, not getting a cut of your business. I know of a chocolatier in my town who rents a church kitchen. She has to pass a health department inspection separate from the church's inspection...same kitchen, inspected twice. Double the fees for the city...go figure.

As far as the attorney is concerned, I'm guessing his biggest concern would be liability. You need to have liability insurance for your business and have a clear contract stating that the church is not responsible for your food products. I think that would be a much bigger issue than money. Churches are businesses, after all. They may not be for-profit, but they certainly need (and have) revenue.

jason_kraft Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 6:04am
post #7 of 19

ANon-profit organizations can still make a profit and retain tax exempt status for the generated profit as long as the profitable activities are related to the main purpose of the tax exempt organization. They can even pursue other profit-generating activities that are unrelated to the main purpose (e.g. a church renting out its kitchen to a bakery)...the net income for those activities would be taxable, but this would not affect the tax exempt status of the organization.

IMO the church's attorney is either being overly cautious, is worried about liability, or is not up to speed on the rules for tax exempt organizations (or all of the above).

Also, make sure the church kitchen can actually pass a health inspection before you make any commitments. There may be a lower bar for the kitchen's use for church activities than for commercial use.

havealittle Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 6:13am
post #8 of 19

Thanks ya'll for your input.


I have liable insurance up to 1 million (I needed that for my license) and the kitchen is already licensed by the county...they use it twice a year for a city dinner and for making chocolate Easter eggs to sell. I would have to pay for the inspection on myself, I have one license already, but it is for the other commercial kitchen. Thanks again for everyone's input.


Sassyzan: What state does your friend use the church's kitchen? Just curious...wondering if they could help me with some ideas...thanks again.


Everyone is being so helpful....I hope to have my bakery opened by early next year...then I won't have to worry about it anymore...LOL....

-K8memphis Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 7:04am
post #9 of 19

it doesn't work that way here


the non-profit needs to own the unrelated 'for profit' businesses here in tn or they'll loose their tax exemption- bam!


ex. day cares, after school care, houses, private music lessons, stores, cafeterias, gyms, concerts, theatre, etc all church owned for profit biz under the non-profit umbrella


all the risk is on the church opening themselves up to for profit standards--fire & health inspections and zoning compliance issues--often they are in residential zoning ruh roh


so long as the church does it's church thing they're fine -- it's a pandora's box otherwise

-K8memphis Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 7:13am
post #10 of 19

simply said, the property the 'for profits' reside on will be legitimately taxed unless the 'for profit' is owned by a non-profit


think of a mega church somewhere having a food court with a pizza hut and a gigi's cupcakes and a yogurt mountain and a dunkin donuts--this doesn't happen

jason_kraft Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 5:02pm
post #11 of 19


Original message sent by -K8memphis

it doesn't work that way here

the non-profit needs to own the unrelated 'for profit' businesses here in tn or they'll loose their tax exemption- bam!

In the US it does not matter if the church owns the for profit business or the for profit business is an outside company, if the income is unrelated to the church's primary mission it (meaning only the unrelated income) is taxable. OP can clarify this with the local IRS office.

This shouldn't be a problem since it doesn't affect the tax exemption for the exempt activities.

-K8memphis Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 5:39pm
post #12 of 19

if only it was that easy


i don't claim/want to know tax code by any means


  1. but i mean tell that to my friends who almost lost their church and had to fight in court about the starbucks situation i outlined up thread--guess everybody didn't read see that part of the tax code huh?
  2. why doesn't every church have lots of viable unrelated profit businesses owned by others located on their property--all churches want/need/could use more income --this would be an easy peasy way for them to make tons of money-
  3. guess church lawyers over react


i firmly believe it does not work that way based on my years working in a non-profit and the problems i know others have endured


and i guess the biggest reason of all is one weeny link to the fathomless tax code is just a drop in the bucket to the working reality of all this



jason_kraft Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 9:30pm
post #13 of 19

AI can't speak to the Starbucks-related legal trouble since I don't know the details, but it's possible the church was not paying tax on the income they received from the Starbucks kiosk. It's also possible that the state's lawsuit was unfounded.

Many churches do have for-profit enterprises that bring in money. For example, the mormon church makes more than a billion dollars a year from its for-profit businesses:

-K8memphis Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 10:04pm
post #14 of 19
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

I can't speak to the Starbucks-related legal trouble since I don't know the details, but it's possible the church was not paying tax on the income they received from the Starbucks kiosk. It's also possible that the state's lawsuit was unfounded.

Many churches do have for-profit enterprises that bring in money. For example, the mormon church makes more than a billion dollars a year from its for-profit businesses:


  yes sure because the church owns them


sure, day cares, book publishing, printing companies, music sales etc etc etc, family homes, vehicles, thrift stores, retail stores like i listed above--tons of for profit businesses under the non-profit umbrella owned by the non-profit--then retail sales are taxed but property is not taxed--(very confusing--my eyes are crossing floating back into my head aghhh)


the states and localities will get their tax dollar


the particular thing with the starbucks dealio is that their setup was exactly like mine in my bookstore


except i (the store) did not get written up in the local newspaper--just the church paper--


and the starbucks coffee was just the beans that just anyone can buy to serve out of their pump coffee pots


they did not have a starbucks franchise or anything--it was just 'good' coffee --


those two items combined --and the state clamped down hard because of it


the appearance of 'evil'--of not staying within your tax exempt footprint


and yes the church did eventually prevail but not after spending a ton of money and coming very close to loosing it all


nothing i'd ever wanna mess around with


even on line activities/sales have to be closely carefully monitored--to much minutiae--far too much minutiae


for ex.--if only church members could log on to the store we could have an on line sales presence--but if it was open to the general public no that's getting out from under the umbrella


but we could sell say for example--sermon tapes and our own music cd's on line


crazy head ache inducing detail

havealittle Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 4:07am
post #15 of 19

Thanks again everyone for you advice and inputs....if the church doesn't work out....any ideas of where else I can go?



jason_kraft Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 4:12am
post #16 of 19

AIt looks like PA has a cottage food law, check out the site below for more details.

havealittle Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 4:31am
post #17 of 19

Yep...but I have pets, so I can't bake in my house...and if you make cheesecakes or pies, you can't use a dual-kitchen (personal and business). So my house is not an option....I was going to try to have one of my friends who has no pets and etc...but again if I need to make cheesecakes...I can't use their place either. & she didn't want to go through the process, with her kids and etc.

jason_kraft Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 4:40am
post #18 of 19

AIf you don't have room on your property to build and there are no nearby kitchens available for rent, the next best option is probably to rent out some commercial property and build a kitchen there. This would be a significant investment and if you decide to rent to others you will have a limited market due to the CFL in your state but if the market is there and you have a good business plan it can be done.

havealittle Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 5:04pm
post #19 of 19

Well I have contacted some local community fingers crossed. Thanks again everyone. 

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