I was about to enter a contract with a coffee shop where I would be renting their kitchen, and selling to them and other places in the area. So essentially I would be a wholesaler. Well just yesterday I called the health dept to see if I needed any additional permits before renting this kitchen. They told me two major let downs: 1) it is against the law to rent a commercial kitchen and 2) a retail commercial kitchen is not allowed to sell to other retail facilities. I don't get that bc how do the large "commercial" kitchen rent out space legally? The lady at the health dept told me it is totally illegal and these places are all in trouble. WTF? So I called one of these commercial shared kitchens and this one has been in biz since 1984 and seemed to be fine. The owner told me that I could call the health dept 20 times and get 20 different answers! Who can I get straight answers from? The helath dept told me in order for me to use this kitchen I would have to be a partner in the company or be hired as an employee...none of which I want right now. ANY ADVISE?
AWhich county are you in? There is no state law preventing legal kitchen rentals in CA, but different counties may have different rules. I recommend calling your health dept back and asking for a supervisor (or better yet, meeting the supervisor in person). If you still get pushback, ask to see the section of the law that applies to your situation.
The second point mentioned does make sense -- if you have a license for retail sales only, you may not be able to sell to other retailers without a wholesale license. Again this will vary depending on where you are.
not only can you get the twenty different answers they can all be twenty different correct answers depending on ten thousand variables and viewpoints
each different facet of the food industry has a different set of rules and regulations--different frequency and different lists of things to be inspected for
for a cake bakery in my area i don't have to have a hooded suppression system with the certain kinds of equipment that i own--a doughnut shop must have a hooded suppression system--both sell sweets but one is a bigger fire hazard--the open grease--
to do custom cakes here it comes under catering--catering is different than retail bakery--but retail bakery would cover custom caking too--a restaurant has different parameters in order to cater
there's so. many. different things.
here if i rented a kitchen the kitchen would have to be up to current 3/26/13 code--if it was up to code in 1984 and everything since was grandfathered in then that's a ton of improvement required to get me licensed & inspected
the one that told you today may be cutting to the chase for you--maybe not--but unfortunately it sounds reasonable
in my area--i could tell you more confusing stuff but just keep going and take it as far as you can--these issues are not easily divined--going in person is an excellent idea--don't expect it to be easy or fast
Thanks Jason. I am going to contact the inspector tomorrow, as well as a supervisor. I am in LA county(manhattan beach). The previous health dept people I have talked to are all saying the same thing. In order to operate a food biz you need a health permit. Only one permit is issued to a kitchen- and that is for the person who owns the biz. If I start renting his space, I would be running my baking biz under their business. Apparently that is illegal. Who would be responsible if someone got sick form a cookie? Me, because I made it or the coffee house bc they are the ones holding the health permit. I think that is why health dept is saying this. I was going to get liability insurance, esp bc I will be responsible for my staff. If they get hurt I will need coverage. There are a lot of questions I have in this arena as well. What if someone gets sick from a cookie b/c one of their FOH emplyees just came out of bathroom and didn't wash his hands and served a cookie to a customer. How would we determine who is responsible? Also,what if someone slips and brakes their arm while walking through the kitchen? I know I have a lot of concerns, but I am doing everything I can to start working with them, I just don't want to get in trouble for over seeing the law!
Are there attorneys or specialized advisors I can contact?
AUnfortunately I believe LA county does have a rule disallowing third-party rentals of commercial kitchens. If this is supported by county statute there's really not much you can do about it (other than lobbying your county supervisors to change the statute), even though it really doesn't make much sense.
However, CA just passed a cottage food law, so you may be able to sell food products from home wholesale if you get a Class B license and fall within the restrictions of the law. The other alternative would be working for the coffee shop as an independent contractor instead of going with your own business.
Jason, I give you credit for being so knowledgable! After 2 days of being on the phone, I basically learned that they are working on a law that would allow this, but as of now, my only option is becoming a partner or employee...on paper.
Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out and help! I will try and keep this log going as I learn more!