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I think I want a cake studio

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure if this is what you call it, but I'm thinking it would be very handy to have a location to have decorating parties and cake tastings. I am not interested in opening up a storefront bakery. The issue is cost. I would really only need it on weekends and it wouldn't be renting kitchen space since I could still technically do my baking in my home kitchen.

But, if the space did have a commercial kitchen, it it worthwhile to rent it out? I don't know how "hot" commercial kitchens are, but they seem rather plentiful in my area and are $35/hour.

Conversely, I could just rent space from a commercial kitchen, but the ones I've seen are rather warehousey and don't really have the type of space that can accommodate customers.

From a business angle, what would be the most cost-effective and possibly lucrative way to do this? Is there any business that would only want to use it M-F, freeing it up for weekends for me, because I think any food industry types (like caterers) need the weekends too. Is there any way to profit from this as a side venture?
Kelly G.
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Kelly G.
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post #2 of 16
The decorating party would need a commercial kitchen.

For consultations, you could partner with any M-F business. One of the big trends now is office sharing, where people rent desks for their their businesses. This concept could easily be adapted for your needs. Until you ask, you will never know if there is a business out there that may have an empty room that will work. And that business may need the money from the rental.
post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

The decorating party would need a commercial kitchen.


Are you sure about that? If the customers are doing the decorating themselves, the teacher would not be producing or working on anyone's cake besides her own (aside from incidental contact to help others). I doubt Michaels has an inspected commercial kitchen for running their decorating classes, and commercial kitchens typically do not allow guests for liability reasons.

The local health dept should be able to clarify the rules for this.
post #4 of 16
Jason said: ....... I doubt Michaels has an inspected commercial kitchen for running their decorating classes....

You are right they do not have kitchens at all. Back when I was teaching we could not even let a student rinse any of their equipment in the sink (when there was one - not all of the teaching rooms had one).
post #5 of 16
A commercial kitchen is opposite a residential kitchen. I did not mention rented.

Michaels has all of the ingredients brought in by the student. I guess I assumed that the class would be something more than what you can already get in almost every city. Why provide the exact same thing?

When I have looked into classes, it has always been in a commercial kitchen where everything is provided. On a level higher than Michaels, I would want an all inclusive deal. Our local college culinary dept has classes, I know restaurants that have classes, bakery classes, but only the most basic cheap Michael's has you bring your own materials.

When students bring their own materials, like Michaels, have you looked at the pure crap they bring? You can't teach someone a lesson when they bring in all the wrong things or their execution of a recipe is all wrong. What is your list going to look like? Student must bring 4mm dragees in silver and black, Italian meringue buttercream at 68 degrees, royal icing in outline consistency... you get my drift. If you are going to teach at a higher level than the one at Michaels (where any middle-schooler can pass), then you need to provide the materials so that you can control the outcome.

If you provide any of the edible ingredients, you will need a commercial kitchen.
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

If you provide any of the edible ingredients, you will need a commercial kitchen.


Doesn't VA have a cottage food law? If so the teacher should be able to bring ingredients from her CFL-compliant home kitchen and sell them to the students as part of the fee for the party. Once that transaction is complete the ingredients are now the property of the students, just as if they had brought them from home.

I don't have experience with purchasing liability insurance for a non-rented commercial kitchen, but even in that case I doubt the insurance company would be happy with dozens of strangers using or even being present in the kitchen on a regular basis. OP did mention renting a kitchen.

Also this thread is talking about decorating parties, a Michaels-level class would probably be sufficient for that type of event. I do agree that if OP wants to offer professional-level classes she would want a commercial kitchen setup similar to what you would find at a culinary school.
post #7 of 16
My commercial policy and my license allow for as many people as I want in my kitchen. This is not a rented kitchen where the owner is trying to avert situations that could cause a liability. I own all of mine.

We don't know if she is licensed. But in most areas, if you prepare somewhere else, it must be approved also. In our area, we have to notify HD of our location if prep is to be done. They want to know where the food is going so that they can have the opportunity to inspect or deny the location.

IndyDebi would be a good source to chime in here. My kitchen is not a bakery. It is fully licensed to cater anything. If I just deliver food to a location, no problem. But if I prep or heat food on location, I must get prior approval. The situation the OP describes is similar to this. It is more than delivery. CFL probably has a ruling against this practice in general, as I'm sure prep on location is outside the boundaries of CFL... and most limited bakery licenses. This is a catering situation which is usually outside the parameters of a limited baking license.

All I'm trying to say is that she could easily get a place for tastings (a delivery), but the lessons (a prep) may need some guidance from the local HD.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

If I just deliver food to a location, no problem. But if I prep or heat food on location, I must get prior approval. The situation the OP describes is similar to this. It is more than delivery. CFL probably has a ruling against this practice in general, as I'm sure prep on location is outside the boundaries of CFL... and most limited bakery licenses. This is a catering situation which is usually outside the parameters of a limited baking license.

All I'm trying to say is that she could easily get a place for tastings (a delivery), but the lessons (a prep) may need some guidance from the local HD.


It's something of a moot point since as you said the local HD will make the final determination, but I don't agree that this is on-site prep...this is selling customers food (covered by CFL) and having them do the prep themselves (outside the scope of both CFL and health dept), the customers are not acting as contractors or employees of the teacher.
post #9 of 16
Jason, I really don't want to debate with you because we are either both right or both wrong. And her HD will probably just scratch their heads and not know what to say because CFL usually doesn't fall under HD.

Where you and I disagree, and I really don't disagree with you, is that you are specifically answering the OP's question in reference to her location. I tend to answer questions with more generalization, keeping in mind the broader range of the CC readers.
post #10 of 16
I used to teach classes at a local culinary school (in VA) that provided the food etc. He said that the health inspector told him that as long as students weren't taking food out it wasn't considered "cookig" for licensure,and he didn't need an inspection from the health dept. When I taught classes it was okay for the students to bring in their own cakes, and we made the icing on site. They'd take the finished cakes home, so I don't know how that would be classified but the health inspector had no problem with it.

They classify us differently here if you're catering (commercial kitchens are required), doing only baking with an inspection (home kitchens are okay), or baking with the cottage law (home kitchens are okay but no perishable products allowed.)

In my experience it also depends on what inpsector you have and what they feel like telling you on that particular day. I had one tell me something that made no sense, so I called up another one whose wedding cake I'd made, and she told me that there was an exemption for that particular issue for wedding cakes. So when the first inspector came to do my inspection I told him what the other inspector had said, and he said "oh, okay, that makes sense," then gave me his take on it too.
post #11 of 16
costumeczar, from my HD, the prep is what throws it into catering. In our last annual mandatory meeting, the HD covered this and got on people for not reporting. When I had my last inspection about three weeks ago, I asked her to clarify. The food would essentually be handled, heated, refrigerated, surfaces used, utensils possibly used, etc. These were the concerns. I have no idea what the law is in VA. I just threw out some possibilities to ask so that she could be in compliance.

Wasn't the culinary school kitchen licensed? That would seem to make it ok.

The one great thing about both WV and MD plus our FDA inspectors is that they all give the exact same information. If they aren't sure of something, they research and get back.
post #12 of 16
Baking Arts here is SF is in a live/work loft, just like I live in. His bedroom is upstairs, the entire bottom floor is all dedicated to the teaching studio. His classes are all-inclusive and he provides the cake/SMBC, and at the end you get to take it home. We are zoned commercial retail, but not retail food establishment (he doesn't even own the loft, I almost rented a loft in that very building). He bakes all the cake there. So least here, there must be some classification for "teaching" because I know everything that he's doing, he must doing legally. He's way too high profile not to be. It's worth a call to your local health department and zoning commission to see if you could do something similar.

http://www.bakingarts.net/index.html
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

costumeczar, from my HD, the prep is what throws it into catering. In our last annual mandatory meeting, the HD covered this and got on people for not reporting. When I had my last inspection about three weeks ago, I asked her to clarify. The food would essentually be handled, heated, refrigerated, surfaces used, utensils possibly used, etc. These were the concerns. I have no idea what the law is in VA. I just threw out some possibilities to ask so that she could be in compliance.

Wasn't the culinary school kitchen licensed? That would seem to make it ok.

The one great thing about both WV and MD plus our FDA inspectors is that they all give the exact same information. If they aren't sure of something, they research and get back.



The way that they make the distinction here is what type of foods you're preparing, not the prep methods. If it's considered hazardous like meats they make you have a commercial kitchen. Baking is considered non-hazardous for the most part, but they do look over all of your recipes. I had to argue with them about the IMBC when I submitted it.

The culinary school was licensed, but it was a different kind of license than a caterer would have. I don't remember the specific details, but he was telling me that he requested an inspection like he thought he needed, but when the inspector showed up he told him that he didn't need one. It had to do With the food leaving the premises and being served to people other than the ones who cooked it. Since that wasn't going to happen they were regulating his business differently.

I wish you got the same answers from everyone here. Sometimes it's a free for all.
post #14 of 16
Both MD and my county in WV are so close to FDA requirements, they refer to each other all the time. Adding CFL to the mix in VA makes it difficult I'm sure. Hopefully the OP will get someone that can help her. Butfor advice here, I think she should listen to you because of your depth of knowledge in your area. My posts are general and I don't presume to know local law. I just suggest issues that may need answers.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

Both MD and my county in WV are so close to FDA requirements, they refer to each other all the time. Adding CFL to the mix in VA makes it difficult I'm sure. Hopefully the OP will get someone that can help her. Butfor advice here, I think she should listen to you because of your depth of knowledge in your area. My posts are general and I don't presume to know local law. I just suggest issues that may need answers.



Actually, I've heard that things vary by county in Virginia too, so the OP should probably ignore what I'm saying and go directly to the local Dept of Agriculture office and her local Health Department offices!
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