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Virginia Home-Based Bakery: Where to Start? Pets? Help...

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

After a couple of years of baking cakes for friends and family (for free), I've begun baking cupcakes for local charity events...I'm hoping I'm still in the clear since these cupcakes are not sold - they are given away - and I make no money whatsoever. (Cupcakes are given away to those who donate to the charity.)

 

But, I am not slowly moving towards turning this into a business, and I am just in WAY over my head here...

 

First, I know the Dept of Agriculture is the one in charge here, but where can I find this illusive information to "request a packet" explaining what I'll need to do before inspection?

 

Second, is it just the State Department of Agriculture I need to worry about or are there county departments & laws somewhere too?

 

Next, ....well, I have cats. Everything I'm reading says that they need to be kept separate from where I bake & store things. That's easy enough when I'm baking and storing because we have a finished basement, and I can keep them down there... but do they have to be out of my kitchen ALL the time or only when products are being made and stored? I'm afraid this might completely dash my plans as I have an open concept home, and I can't keep them out of the kitchen 100% without keeping them out of the entire main level of the home.

 

That's really my biggest obstacle there... the cats.

 

Any help would be much appreciated...

post #2 of 21

here's a link that has most of the packet info.....

 

http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/fdsafety/index.shtml

 

if you click on the Virginia Retail Food Regulations - Major Changes Newsletter and go to page 5 it should have a list of food safety offices where you call and request the actual packet.

 

other than that you'll have to get a business license....i'm not sure where in VA you're at but some cities don't allow a home bakery.....i'm in viriginia beach and it's allowed here but not in norfolk.....

 

if i recall correctly if you have pets it's required to have a door that locks to separate your kitchen from the rest of house.....that one factor has put squashed my desire for a home bakery and now i'm looking for an affordable commercial kitchen in the area....

 

hope this helps some!

post #3 of 21

I can't answer your question, but I can give you some food for thought which may or may not apply to you and your cats. I am also in Virginia and the dust drives me crazy! I can dust and an hour later have to dust again. I had a cat until recently and she shed a lot. Even when she wasn't around I'd find little hairs floating around. I was constantly cleaning (way more than normal) and keeping bowls and pans and fondant work covered as much as possible. Sadly, I had to find her a home for other reasons and after a month of deep dekittifying everything, I don't have the floating hair problem anymore. I do have two dogs, but one is low to now shed and the other one sheds a little during weather changing months, but it doesn't seem to float around, maybe because his fur is longer. Anyway, my point is if you can't keep your cats out of your caking space all the time, it's something the inspector will be looking at. I do believe I have heard other decorators says they have heard no pets at all ever in the kitchen and some say not while you're working so it may depend on the inspector you get and how picky they are. There's an older very long thread with a lot of information about Virginia cottage food laws and getting inspected that might be of some help to you. If you search Virginia Cottage Law, it should come up. Hope that helps.

 

By the way, I am certainly not anti-cats and I know some cats shed a lot more than others and I hope you don't think I'm saying you have cat hair in your cakes or all over your house or anything of the sort, only sharing my experience of caking with a cat and what the inspectors may look for.

post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thank you both very much. 

 

I'm in Loudoun county, and I know that they do allow at-home bakeries here, but I obviously need the inspection, business license, HOA approval, insurance, etc. etc.

 

The thing is, I'm nowhere near ready for a commercial kitchen. I'm making no money and not ready to dive face-first into a business. I'm just looking to bake on the side of my full-time job to test the waters if that makes sense. If I began to feel it was successful, I might charge ahead with making it a full-time thing, but I just don't have the knowledge to do that right now.

 

Bleh. I'm stuck :(
 

I'll just have to reach out and contact the department of agriculture and see where it leads... my kitties aren't going anywhere, so this may just not happen for me. I might just be a friends-and-family baker.

post #5 of 21

I'm stuck like you. It's really confusing trying to figure out how to balance everything. Not just the laws and the cat(s) but the Full time job as well. Another option is to talk to local restaurants and see if they are willing to rent the kitchen to you for a fee. This eliminates the issue with the cats and you're in an inspected space. Let me know what you find out and good luck!

My Parents call me the Cranky Chef but I'm sweet buttercream ... With a little bit of spice. Keeps life interesting right. 

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My Parents call me the Cranky Chef but I'm sweet buttercream ... With a little bit of spice. Keeps life interesting right. 

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post #6 of 21

There are a few threads floating around here about getting legal in VA if you want to look those up that offer step by step directions- I recently moved to MD, but was had a legal VA home bakery for two years. The person that mentioned the door for your kitchen is correct. The pets cannot have access to the kitchen at all- and since I had a cat (with the doorway separating her and the kitchen at all times) they had me make several food products and tested for pet hair.

post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by shugababie View Post

here's a link that has most of the packet info.....

 

http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/fdsafety/index.shtml

 

if you click on the Virginia Retail Food Regulations - Major Changes Newsletter and go to page 5 it should have a list of food safety offices where you call and request the actual packet.

 

other than that you'll have to get a business license....i'm not sure where in VA you're at but some cities don't allow a home bakery.....i'm in viriginia beach and it's allowed here but not in norfolk.....

 

if i recall correctly if you have pets it's required to have a door that locks to separate your kitchen from the rest of house.....that one factor has put squashed my desire for a home bakery and now i'm looking for an affordable commercial kitchen in the area....

 

hope this helps some!

There is a community kitchen in Chesapeake. Unfortunately you have to rent for a minimum of 2 hours and it is $150 an hour. That may work for you since I have no idea what your volume or business model is...

post #8 of 21

Has anyone checked with churches to see if they rent their kitchen?

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by BatterUpCake View Post

There is a community kitchen in Chesapeake. Unfortunately you have to rent for a minimum of 2 hours and it is $150 an hour. That may work for you since I have no idea what your volume or business model is...

BatterUp, I don't think anyone's business model can reasonably include $150 per hour rental rate. Surely there is a mistake. Can you check that for us?  

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post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MimiFix View Post

BatterUp, I don't think anyone's business model can reasonably include $150 per hour rental rate. Surely there is a mistake. Can you check that for us?  

OOPS..It's in VaBch and is $50/hr for 3 hours. Just google culinary incubator and it lists kitchen rental places all over the US....


Edited by BatterUpCake - 7/5/13 at 6:58pm
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 

Sigh ... guess the home-based thing is not happening then unless I want to build a second kitchen lol.

 

Ah well.

 

I will look into the rental thing, but VA beach is a billion hours away :)

For now, it will all just remain a dream...and my "business" will remain not a business and just a no-income project lol

post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 

Actually, turns out there's a rental available right down the street! $45/hour 3-hour minimum though. But discounts given for long-term, so IDK.

 

Curious to learn more about this option... :)

post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by inky_1 View Post

Actually, turns out there's a rental available right down the street! $45/hour 3-hour minimum though. But discounts given for long-term, so IDK.

 

Curious to learn more about this option... :)

goodcluckchope it  works for you. WHat is the name of it

post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by BatterUpCake View Post

OOPS..It's in VaBch and is $50/hr for 3 hours. Just google culinary incubator and it lists kitchen rental places all over the US....

BatterUpCake, are you talking about yummy goodness catering?  if so, their website says it's $50/hour with 3 hour minimum.....do you have to do something different to get that rate of $50/3 hours?  that's definitely more affordable than what their website says.....

post #15 of 21

I just checked the Yummy Goodness website. Anyone using their facility would spend a minimum of $150. I suppose if someone had a high-end catering business then the usage fee would not be a problem. Otherwise, I don't understand how a business would make money. Three hours is not enough time to finish a wedding (or any specialty) cake. Multiply the number of production hours times $50. Think about how many cupcakes must be sold to pay for ingredients and rent. At this point it might be time to consider renting a small shop.   

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