Boston food entrepreneurs will get a boost beginning on Friday, April 30, when a retail residential kitchens ordinance goes into effect. This allows home cooks to prepare shelf-stable foods in their homes for resale at farmers’ markets, online, and through the mail. They can make up to $25,000 per year.
Boston City Councilor at Large Julia Mejia introduced the ordinance after a conversation with Andree Entezari, who had relocated to Boston from Los Angeles, where he ran a fruit leather business from home. He wanted to do the same here.
“This is a way to test products that aren’t cost-prohibitive,” he said. “Working out of your home reduces start-up costs and engages you in your local community. It allows you to meet others in a special way, through food.”
The ordinance passed on March 31. Residents can apply to prepare shelf-stable food (which doesn’t require refrigerating or heating) from their personal kitchens; however, they can’t sell products at home. Mejia said she’s already heard from people who hope to make teas, tortillas, and bagels.
“This is a way to support immigrants and entrepreneurs, removing some barriers to create revenue. I also see this as a violence prevention strategy, where people can cook and watch over [their] kids at the same time. I’m trying to tackle as many issues as I can with this,” she said.
Mejia sees this as a crucial way to test recipes and build followings at farmers’ markets or by selling to restaurants. Commissary kitchens and brick-and-mortar shops are often cost-prohibitive, she said. This is an easier, low-barrier route to experiment and perhaps generate supplemental income.
“This would impact small, immigrant business owners who don’t have access to capital. They can’t rent space or go into a commercial kitchen. This is to see if you have what it takes. We hope this will reduce the burden,” she said.
Entrepreneurs can apply here.