Pennsylvania Inspection Dilemma

So here I am , raring to rip off the band-aid and make myself legit... and of course I hit my first road block. I submit my in-home business application to my township and after speaking with the a very confused inspector and waiting 2 weeks for just a reply, he leaves me a message that says he will have to deny my request because " if your business should take off , we have no way of regulating you making 5000 cookies in a week with a residential oven." 5000 cookies in a week! Jesus. In order for me to proceed, despite me having two ovens in my house, I will need to get a commercial oven. It is not in the code that I need a commercial oven and it is just his personal preference. On a side note, he did tell me he passed an individual to make cakes on her outside stone old bread oven that hasn't been used in decades ( why he would tell me that, I have no clue.) So more or less, I would love any personal experience, insight or opinions. I'm leaning towards fighting this because I think it is a little ridiculous.

Original Post

Every state is different, and in Missouri, every county has different rules. I cannot produce out of my house for some of the same reasons, so I am not at all surprised. I probably wouldn't fight it  - there's little benefit to cornering a bureaucrat on a seemingly nonsensical decision (I know; I've tried), as it may only make your life more difficult. (Usually you have an assigned bureaucrat depending on where you are, and you may have to live with that person for a while.)

 

Have you talked with him about your options for becoming legit? He ought to be able to shed light there. If it's just investing in a commercial oven, then I would do that. If it's the inspection aspect, then , , , you may not be able to fight that. Part of the reason Missouri (my county, anyway) doesn't allow home-based food businesses is so they can do spot (non-scheduled) inspections. The theory being that people may really be doing things other (unapproved) ways during times not scheduled for inspections. The reason they may have approved the stone oven is because it is outside, and accessible for inspections at any time.

 

Your options (like renting space) are not necessarily bad ones - I found that when I started renting (and ultimately bought), I was forced to become more of a legit business by accounting for all of my real overhead costs and scaling up to cover them. Forced expansion out of the home may, in fact, be a blessing in disguise.

Thanks Julia for the feedback! Thank goodness he wasn't at all bureaucrat-y. 

 

I called my inspector and got him to work with me a little ( solely because he realized what kind of cookies I was making and he then told me that " I too once tried my hand crudely at cookie-ing.") He then proceeded to go on for twenty minuets about one Christmas where he made cookies that looked like each of his close friends' homes as a Christmas gift. A home inspector/cookier...Who knew!  So I may or may not be clear to move forward. I had to email him with some things.

 

Regardless, I guess the next question is, Where do I even start to begin when looking for a commercial oven?!? Is the counter top one an option? Does that need to be vented? 

I'm by no means in a position to move to my own commercial space ,but the commercial oven route is looking less scary.

 

If anyone has any insight on commercial ovens, I am ALL EARS! 

P.s I am so grateful for this cookie network, it really makes the process of learning so enjoyable and comforting. I really am grateful to you all.

Originally Posted by Honeyboochie:

Thanks Julia for the feedback! Thank goodness he wasn't at all bureaucrat-y. 

 

I called my inspector and got him to work with me a little ( solely because he realized what kind of cookies I was making and he then told me that " I too once tried my hand crudely at cookie-ing.") He then proceeded to go on for twenty minuets about one Christmas where he made cookies that looked like each of his close friends' homes as a Christmas gift. A home inspector/cookier...Who knew!  So I may or may not be clear to move forward. I had to email him with some things.

 

Regardless, I guess the next question is, Where do I even start to begin when looking for a commercial oven?!? Is the counter top one an option? Does that need to be vented? 

I'm by no means in a position to move to my own commercial space ,but the commercial oven route is looking less scary.

 

If anyone has any insight on commercial ovens, I am ALL EARS! 

P.s I am so grateful for this cookie network, it really makes the process of learning so enjoyable and comforting. I really am grateful to you all.

You must have a commercial equipment supplier nearby. I'd start there, by looking at what they have to offer and figuring out what capacity (size) you'll require to fulfill your demand. Commercial ovens run the gamut, as do venting and fire codes (from state to state). In Missouri, I had to have all oven/ range equipment, both gas and electric, not only vented but put under a very particular hood outfitted with a fire suppression system. Sounds like you've now got a good dialogue going with your inspector; he can probably point you to the necessary building inspectors who could answer these questions for you.

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