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Trying to get licensed in MA

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm hoping somebody from Massachusetts can help me, I'm so frustrated! I have been doing cakes for friends and family for about a year now, and I absolutely love it so I decided to "get legal" to earn some extra money. I did all my research, know what classes I need to take, got insurance quotes and made sure I was all set for an inspection. So I went to town hall to get whatever paperwork I needed to get the ball rolling and I was told that the town does not allow it...what?? No explanation, the guy was rude, and after having the door just about shut in my face I left. Is there a way to go about this without going through the town or am I stuck with no answers and forced to find a kitchen to rent? I'm a stay at home mom so finding a babysitter every time I have a cake order just isn't practical :( 

post #2 of 13

I'm not from Massachusetts, so I can't help, but I can sympathize.  I live in PA, which has a Cottage Food law, so I have been preparing to go legal with my cookie business.  I too, registered with the state, looked into insurance, and found a licensed church kitchen to use (since I own two cats I can not get my home kitchen licensed, even if they are not allowed in the kitchen.)  I applied for my zoning permit with the city a month ago and just found out that it's been denied because "a Cottage Food industry is not a permitted use."  Evidently, my only recourse is to request a variance, which costs $500.

 

I am devastated.  I thought that by trying to get licensed I was doing the right thing.  My city always talks about how it wants to encourage entrepreneurs and small businesses, and I believed that was true -- but I was wrong.  A $500 fee is a pretty big hurdle for a business of the size I am envisioning -- I would have to sell an awful lot of cookies just to break even.

 

I don't know what I am going to do now.  I hope things work out better for you.

post #3 of 13
post #4 of 13
Usually the health inspection is handled by the county, zoning and business licensing are done at the town level. Where in MA do you live?
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Custom Cookies View Post

I applied for my zoning permit with the city a month ago and just found out that it's been denied because "a Cottage Food industry is not a permitted use."  Evidently, my only recourse is to request a variance, which costs $500.

You can try escalating the issue to the director of city planning or your council and explain what the impact of your business would be on the surrounding area (estimated number of customers per week, etc.). They may still require a variance, in which case you could allocate that $500 over the cost of your products -- for example if you plan on selling an average of 100 servings of cake per week, just add 10 cents per serving to your price.
post #6 of 13

I am licensed in MA.  Unfortunately,certification is not done by county, it's done by town or city.  The next town over from me does not allow at-home baking because they have septic systems and most have well water, whereas in my town we have town water/sewer.   I was actually the first person in my town to ever apply for an at-home baking license.   I know in many towns it is not allowed, so you may have to find a kitchen.

 

You might try again, though, by asking through your town's board of health.  Sounds like the person you asked may not have known much, and it may be the case that no one has ever attempted to apply to bake out of their home kitchen.

 

Good luck!  Where are you located?

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Holbrook. When I asked the Department of Health about a residential kitchen being licensed he said "We don't allow it".

post #8 of 13

Sounds like they don't allow it.  I would find out why.  

post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft View Post


You can try escalating the issue to the director of city planning or your council and explain what the impact of your business would be on the surrounding area (estimated number of customers per week, etc.). They may still require a variance, in which case you could allocate that $500 over the cost of your products -- for example if you plan on selling an average of 100 servings of cake per week, just add 10 cents per serving to your price.

Thank you for the advice.  I will try to reach the city planning director and see if I get anywhere.  I don't have much time; the appeal has to be filed within 30 days, plus the deadline to make it on the October agenda is October 1st.  So discouraging and frustrating.....

post #10 of 13

My town allows it, but you have to jump through 1001 hoops before they'll license you, providing that you already meet their minimum requirements.

post #11 of 13

Well, it's MA, maybe a handshake and a $100 bill??  LOL  :D

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Norasmom View Post
 

Well, it's MA, maybe a handshake and a $100 bill??  LOL  :D

:snort:

 

:-D

post #13 of 13

I am located in Mass, I hear your pain,I now run a small cake shop Sweet Tales Cake Boutique,  I was at first told that they would not allow it, but after calling them literally 2 or 3 times a day to get details as to why I could not do it and being really nice to them, firm, but nice to them I had a hearing and they allow me to do it. Be prepare for the hearing they will ask you a bunch of questions, they will try to do anything they can do to discourage you from doing it.

 

I did spend $23,000 in converting a garage into a kitchen as I had to bring water, sewer, gas, electrical, commecial oven and a special vent for it, poor a new floor etc and comply with a buch of city requirements, but after working for corporate america for over 15 years I must say that although I work crazy hrs in my studio, I am glad I fought for what I wanted to do.

 

Best of luck.

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