LA Times Notes How Bureaucracy Bedevils Aspiring Chefs, Bakers

When it comes to business reporting, the media often tow a pro-bigger government line at the expense of the private sector. Profit-motivated businessmen are often portrayed as much less sympathetic than the allegedly altruistic souls that comprise the nation's core of politicians and bureaucrats.

But from time to time, a news outlet does shine a spotlight on just how much of a pain in the neck bureaucracy can be, especially when it throws up numerous roadblocks to small businessmen and women.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Los Angeles Times's Cyndia Zwahlen served up such a story to readers of the November 22 paper.

In her article, "Many regulatory ingredients go into food start-ups," Zwahlen examined the plight of a Buena Park, California, resident who's hoping to make her scone-baking hobby a successful business venture:

Find a great cook or baker, and you've probably found someone who has dreamed of starting a food-themed business, whether a restaurant, a bakery or even a food truck.


But the many details of starting a food business can turn the dream into a nightmare — or at least a bad stretch of insomnia.


Case in point is Kathie Kaihewalu-Fortney of Buena Park, who has gotten raves for the flavored scones that she made in her home kitchen.


But when she wanted to go commercial with the scones, she couldn't use her kitchen to make batches to sell. To comply with regulations, Kaihewalu-Fortney used a shared commercial kitchen facility she rented by the hour.


"It's a dream of mine to have my own place to make my scones but I can't afford the overhead yet," said Kaihewalu-Fortney, who started selling her Ohana Mama Scones at local arts and crafts fairs last spring.


For a recent weekend fair, she baked her pumpkin streusel scones in a space she rented at a wholesale food processing facility.


Renting commercial kitchen space was only one of the steps to getting her business up and running. Kaihewalu-Fortney had to get product liability insurance and a business license, and she had to pass a safety certification program in food handling.


She also has to get a temporary health department permit for each fair event at which she sells her baked goods.

Even as government red tape has made it harder for upstarts to get into business, other entrepreneurs have found a solid business model in renting kitchen space out:

Some commercial kitchens are being used exclusively for rental projects. Chef's Kitchens in West Los Angeles, which has several kitchens in one building, is one example. It charges part-time users $25 an hour, with a minimum charge of $200 a month. In addition, some restaurants and other food businesses are renting kitchen time to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

For the full story, click here.

Business Coverage Economy Los Angeles Times Cyndia Zwahlen