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In a boost for home cooks with small-business hopes, Boston will soon allow ‘retail residential kitchens’

City Councilor at Large Julia Mejia hopes the measure fosters entrepreneurial growth for chefs who can’t afford brick-and-mortar rents.

City Councilor at Large Julia Mejia.Erin Clark / Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

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.

Kara Baskin can be reached at Follow her @kcbaskin.