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Getting Fed Up with ILLEGAL home bakers

post #1 of 82
Thread Starter 

The illegal home bakers in my area have never had any respect from me but now that it has gotten to the point where it is actually affecting my revenue.

This year especially has annoyed me. Just this week we had two brides forfit their downpayment to go with home bakers. Both are using our flavors and designs and time. One joker actually told our customer that they would be able to do it cheaper because they didn't have to pay for all that advertising. Haven't paid for advert ever! 20 yrs.

  After some research we found that almost 50% of the local websites for wedding cakes and catering don't have kitchens. Some of these criminals are even set up at local bridal shows. Something I've never done. Along with some other bakeries we are taking measures to identify these( I don't want to use the word criminal BUT it is totally against the law to prepare food in our state for the public to consume).

There is a bill right now in the state legislation to allow a cottage baking permit to the home. I don't have a problem with that if it passes. Their claim is that they don't use hazordus ingredients. Eggs? hello! If passed they will have to make their home pass inspection and have sanitation education. I pay 400 dollars a year to have mine inspected.

  This has gotten so out of hand. Most all office catering has gone under the radar. I can't imagine the amount of revenue being taken out of the industry. There can't be any tax paid on this if it's illegal income. They can't possably have liability or any insurance. Almost all the power behind the bill is from those already doing it illegal. I just can't justify giving them amnisty.

  THE FACT IS THERE ARE ONLY SIXTEEN STATES THAT ALLOW ANY FOOD ITEMS PREPARED OUT OF A HOME INSPECTED KITCHEN TO FEED THE PUBLIC. There is a very good reason for this. This also includes giving food away-no charge wink wink or for friends.

   This is another reason why the current wedding cake book up for review exist. I'm absolutLY sure the author only targeted those sixteen states!!!! And I'm sure there is a chapter on sanitation.

I PERSONALLY THINK THESE ARE SOME OF THE REASONS WHY THE SMALL BUSINESS ASPECT OF THIS INDUSTRY IS CRUMBLING FAST.

WE HAVE NO FINANCIAL  OR GOVERNMENT RESPECT AS IT IS.

It is very hard for me to offer anything positive to those wanting to start a small buainess the right way.

The end result is that the customer suffers and a mediocre product becomes the norm.

This is just a rant but I hope sends a message to those that need one.

Panini

I would really like to see some sort of requirement to post a bio and location to participate at ChefTalk true or not.

but I also understand why they don't.

 

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post #2 of 82

Why do you think home bakers are thriving?

post #3 of 82

Imho they'll thrive until a deadly salmonella outbreak is traced back to an uninspected kitchen.

 

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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post #4 of 82
Thread Starter 

Granny Smith,

I did not hear anything about legal home bakers are thriving. But if you are talking about illegal home bakers it's easy.

If they can undercut legal businesses and have no overhead, NO TAXES,and no required monies to meet Fed-state and local laws,technology to meet government requirements, insurances, etc. They would have to be complete idiots not to be thriving.

Granny, I'm sorry to sound rude but if someone you know that is selling to the public, they are breaking the laws in your state.

It's no different than other crimes, they are criminals. The worst part of this is that these people have no clue how they open up themselves to losing every their family owns and might be garnished financially for the rest of their lives.

 

I guess I'll take this time to answer a few sizzling emails.

1.I am not against home baking! I actually think it is needed in bigger states outside city limits. Logistics require us to stay within our limits and venues. There is a need for home bakers in the more rural areas.

   2. I make no monies on a deposit that is forfitted. We have only charged a 100. dollar deposit for the last 12 years to hold your date. This does not even cover the hour design and tasting we provide. Technically the contract is signed with the deposit. I absolutely don't have any animosity towards those that decide to go elsewhere. I would never hold them to their contract.  We invite them to go where they are comfortable.I will and have returned deposits when asked. My problem is I now have 2 empty spots for the date that translates into thousands lost. I have five families to support.

   3.Oklahoma baker. Your words speak volumes about your personality. I hate to tell you this but it is illegal to play business in your state. Getting away with it does not nake it ok. nuff said

Panini

 

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post #5 of 82

oh panini, I am in dallas as well. I don't sell anything but only bake for fun.  I often participate in bake sales.  I hope to open a cupcake shop or bakery someday but what is the point if anyone can sell from home kitchen.  Home kitchen mean less overhead costs which will make it more attractive to clients.  In that case, I will open my shop when I am ready to "live to bake" and not worry about making a profit.  But I don't know if that day will ever come.  I hope the law will be more favorable for the legit baking business.

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post #6 of 82

Panini, for the record, I agree with you, but I understand why some people are using these illegal home bakers, too. I live in an area with extremely high unemployment (in excess of 20%). For special occasions, when a person isn't great at baking or decorating, many here are turning to these illegal bakers. From my observations, their work is often sub-par, but it's all about the money.

 

Also for the record, I am a retired baker, caterer, cook, and restaurant manager.

post #7 of 82
Thread Starter 

Granny,

   For the record, I'm not posting to bash. I wouldn't do it here. I've been lurking around CT for 10 years. Just trying to bring an awareness to what I think is a growing problem affecting small business in food. There are a lot of people here wanting to follow their dream to ownership..

It may look like it's all about the money but I think it's more about etiquette and professionalism. The economy and unemployment affects everyone especially small business.

There are plenty of ways to be creative and earn extra income without breaking the law. If I was a small dairy farmer I wouldn't park in front of the grocery store and hail shoppers exiting, pssst hey, go put that milk back, I'll sell you one of my gallons for half that price. I know..a ridiculous referenceLOL it's late.It's wrong and dangerous.

   There are many bakers in our area. You might know some from Food Network, Bronwen Weber, Lauren from Fancy Cakes. We would never attempt to take somebodys client.

We all have our niches and we actually refer to them for certain types of cakes. Exchange Holiday Greetings.

Trust me, things could be better. Fact is, our pricing is 10% lower then Grocery stores.

I just don't see how these people can justify breaking the law, stealing from small business, government, employees and show up at Church on Sunday. These are the same

hippocrate yahoos that complain they are on unemployment because the bread winners job has been outsourced to someone who will do it cheaper.

But what do I know? Things are going in the crapper and I'm working on building a new production kitchen.

Granny, always read your posts.

 

Pastrycakes, you hang in there. Where there is a will there is a way. I'll return your PM. I like the donut idea.

Panini

 

 

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post #8 of 82

Unfortunately the same thing exists with home caterers. People who cook food and sell to parties and such from their home kitchens.

All it would take would be for one person to get sick and sue. The law would take everything that person owned and they would be in bad shape forever.

People just don't get it. All they think about is the money.

post #9 of 82

Panini, I think I didn't make myself clear. I didn't mean it was all about the money for legal bakers, but for the illegal ones. They sell for cash, but don't claim it on their taxes. So, in essence, they're making at least 25% more than if they'd done it legally.

 

Believe it or not, there are people near me who sell milk straight from the cow and they have people clamoring for it. They also sell homemade butter and buttermilk. I've bought it a few times, but was not satisfied with the quality and had serious questions about the seller's cleanliness. In case you didn't guess, selling uninspected dairy products is also illegal - and for good reason. 

post #10 of 82

I'm one of those folks who buys raw milk. The legal workaround for the dairy farmer is to sell "shares" of the cow. Kind of like a bovine timeshare. Every industry seems to have it's share of people who try to work under the table, whether legal or illegal. I owned a retail store for nearly two decades. It seemed like people would pop up selling out of their garage almost weekly. Once the internet took off, things got even worse.  Eventually, the suppliers had to crack down on who they would do business with in order to protect their real customers and the industry as a whole. It's unfortunate that bakers can get everything they need at the local warehouse store.

post #11 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimS View Post

The legal workaround for the dairy farmer is to sell "shares" of the cow. Kind of like a bovine timeshare.


Here, they sell it as 'pet food' (wink, wink) I don't know anyone who gives it to their pets.

 

post #12 of 82
Thread Starter 

LOL

Where do you guys live?

I guess you can tell I'm a city boy. Dallas is as country as I get.

Reading up on our Baking Bill.

No requirements for the kitchen. No grease traps, FRP,Sinks,ventilation, no Food Service Manager Cert. just food handlers permit like the guys hawking dogs at the park,nothing etc.

The Health Department is allowed to visit to make sure they are not doing more then 250,000.00 annually.

At this point I hope it passes. I'll tie my Beagles in front of the store and tell the HealthD to scram, this is where I live.;>D

pan

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post #13 of 82

Well heck.  I'd be getting rid of the sanitizer, tossing grease down the drain, smoking in the kitchen, etc.

post #14 of 82
Thread Starter 

Well even if I did it doesn't bother me as much as chicken/meat up high,  Medicine, Left overs, flowers, the gross list goes on in the family fridge. Don't think it's not going to happen.

It's a fact that most all  Food Borne Illness occures in the home. People rarely get sick from eating out of a liscenced and inspected kitchen. I'm still trying to figure out how eggs

aren't a potentially dangerous food. I have had inspectors crack and check the temp of raw egg. There are more people then ever with surpressed immune systems.

I'll stop my rant LOL

pan

oh wait, there's little Tommy with his hands in his poopy diaper headed to the fridge to get his sippy bottle.

I don't lump everybody together. I know there are plenty of people practicing proper sanitation at home and they know it's work

and it isn't always common sense.

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post #15 of 82

I'm a little more than 50 miles from Lexington, KY, 30 miles from a small city, and 10 miles from a small town. I guess you could say I live in the boonies. The only neighbors I can see from my house or yard are cows (Herefords, specifically).

 

Sanitation is one reason I won't sell food from home, even though I've been asked to many times. I know how to set up a proper kitchen that would pass inspection, but I don't have control over everybody else that lives here and can't guarantee that they wouldn't do something gross (with 5 teenagers, I can almost assure you that they would)

 

For the classes I've been considering teaching, I would have access to a commercial kitchen that is inspected regularly. IMO, it's the only way.

post #16 of 82

I'm honestly shocked by how laid back Ohio's cottage industry laws are. I'm originally from Indiana, and had a catering company that I ran out of my best friend/catering partner's kitchen. I'd never even heard of cottage laws before I came here and am in the process of getting a home bakery license. I joined a local cake club and at the first meeting I attended, I could tell they were offended I was going the extra step to getting an inspection and home license. Or maybe it's because I jokingly said I was going to name my business "Barely Legal". Just think of the website traffic!smile.gif

post #17 of 82

Here in Hamilton at least it is against health department regulations to comercially sell any food that is made in a home kitchen.  The only way it is allowed is if the home has two kitchens... one for the family use and one that is for the strict use of the business and is inspected regularly by the health department.  That just said, I have heard of people catering office lunches from their homes and making good money for it, but one guy I know of who was doing that had a visit at his front door from the health department.  It seems someone got sick after eating a lunch he had catered and they complained to the health department.  I don't know if he was fined or not but he did go out of business not too long after that.

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #18 of 82

Welll.....

 

When I was catering (professionally, a comercial 3,000 sqft kitchen) it was a love/hate relationship with the home caterers.  Yes, they were stealing business from me, and the stupid ones would carpet-bomb my area with their flyers/promos.  I simply called the health dept on them.  They say that excrement attracts flies, and the home based caterers would attract the cheap-o customers, the whiners, and the "If I can save 10% from the catering budget, I'll get a promation" office mngrs.

 

But, on the other hand, the home based caterers made me look good.  Once I got a customer back from a home based, I almost always recieved appreciation and repeat business "They actually served green burger patties, I swear, it was green", and,  "I had to pay a $400 fine from the hall because they left such a mess behind", or, "When I checked "X" rental's website, they padded my rental bill by almost $300.00". 

 

I don't have a crystal ball, but I foresee things with home based bakeries...

 

I see a food poisoning scare in the near future, I see lawsuites with perishable items being transported in hot, stuffy cars with matted pet hair.

 

But I also see holy he77 from the fire dept and the municipal sewer/water boys, and frankly of the two, I don't want to see a city sewer worker knocking at my door with a videocamera "snake" and a crap-eating grin on his face.

 

I forsee insurance companies balking and refusing (what else is new?) at home based caterers and bakers--illegal or not.

 

And I forsee the tax man eying home based businesses with an evil gleam in his eye. 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #19 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by panini View Post

Well even if I did it doesn't bother me as much as chicken/meat up high,  Medicine, Left overs, flowers, the gross list goes on in the family fridge. Don't think it's not going to happen.

It's a fact that most all  Food Borne Illness occures in the home. People rarely get sick from eating out of a liscenced and inspected kitchen. I'm still trying to figure out how eggs

aren't a potentially dangerous food. I have had inspectors crack and check the temp of raw egg. There are more people then ever with surpressed immune systems.

I'll stop my rant LOL

pan

oh wait, there's little Tommy with his hands in his poopy diaper headed to the fridge to get his sippy bottle.

I don't lump everybody together. I know there are plenty of people practicing proper sanitation at home and they know it's work

and it isn't always common sense.


Fight fire with fire   Have a sign made and posted in your store re. Potential of uninspected kitchens for a mass poisoning of guest. Stress the fact of they are uninsured and therefore can't pay medical bills. Stress the point that the guest could and will sue the host or hostess of the party. So just for the sake of saving a few bucks they risk harming their guest health or even worse. Ask thenm to ask the supplier to see their last health dept. inspection report. Would you want your food made in a place where dogs and cats are running around, or made by someone who has no idea of proper sanitation.   In other words scare or shame them /you may even want to put a flyer in all your to go orders. Put all the things you are saying on paper and get it out don't just complain about it. EJB
 

 

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #20 of 82

My husband used to work for the Health Dept and they didn't have the funds to go out and look for unreported home based businesses. However, if one was reported to them it would get inspected because they didn't want the possible liability of ignoring a request on a business that is potentially dangerous.

post #21 of 82
Thread Starter 

Sherrycakes,

You're right. There is nothing in the Bill about funding the local helth department. I have been around here in business for

decades and know many employees and department heads of the HD and everyone I have contacted are completely uninformed or clueless about this Bill.

 

EJB,

I absolutely agree with you. I hesitate to do anything untill the Bill passes. In 09 when this Bill was introduced the Capital was inundated with a lot of illegal home

bakers. It was pretty obvious that some of these bakers are already blatently breaking the laws and brought the same mentality with them. Yelling, screaming etc.

  A prominant Pastry Chef here in Dallas went down to talk against the Bill  ended up dealing with bogus reports to the Health Department etc. when they got back.

Now that I'm getting older I really try to avoid confrontation especially with law breaker and tax evader mentalities.

pan

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post #22 of 82

I just don't get it....

 

 A bill is passed that O.K.'s home bakeries, which I'm sure will have the Health dept. groaning and moaning, the lawyers rubbing their hands, the tax boys groaning and moaning, and city licensing dept's groaning and moaning.

 

And here I always though a lobby was a public area in a hotel where you read the paper... 

Whatever....

 

II think Ed B's advice is the best.  A small sign infront of your cash register reminding your customers that your place is inspected on a regular basis, that you use inspected suppliers and inspected delivery vehicles, that  you do carry insurance (although I wouldn't tell how much...) that guests can sue hosts for food poisoning, and that you do pay municipal, state, and federal taxes and are a vibrant part of your local commmunity.  And further to Ed B.'s advice, have the same message, printed smaller, on each invoice and on the backs of cash register reciepts. 

 

Perhaps encourage all the other legit bakeries to do the same?

 

But if they carpet bomb your area with flyers and brochures, it's only fair to call the health dept. on them

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post #23 of 82

I should have clarified - my husband worked at an Indiana HD, not Ohio. It was completely illegal in Indiana, and they took the reported home caterers/bakers seriously, they just couldn't afford to hunt them down.

As a caterer in Indiana, I'd tell my clients about the time when the HD shut down a reception before it even happened due to a home-based caterer and all of the violations. The venues should not be allowing unlicensed caterers or bakers in their facilities. I would address that situation first. It's an easy fix, they can just keep approved caterers on file. They should be doing that anyway, for their own liability.

When I was catering, any time I received a lead (phone, email or walk-in) I made sure to get a marketing packet in their hands as soon as I could. It included the regular stuff, but also a coupon for one of our cakes/pies and a checklist of questions to ask when interviewing caterers. Questions such as "Can I see your last inspection? Are all of your employees ServSave Certified? Do you have references available?". You could add things like "How do you keep your food at a safe temperature during transit? Do you carry liability insurance? What will it cover at my event?" and whatever else might make them question using an illegal caterer/baker. It's a great marketing tool, too, because you are prepared to answer the questions...your competition isn't. I named it something like "The top 10 questions you should always ask your caterer" and it looked pretty editorial.

post #24 of 82
Thread Starter 

FP

You and chef EdB are right. My only hesitation is that in 2009 the Bill did not even make it to the floor.

Now I also think that the economy is further in the crapper, we are laying off thousands of teachers and there are more important things

to tend to, they will probably put it on the floor and pass it.  Hey anything for a couple of votes.

pan

PS Chatted with a rep from The Hartford. They will be happy to provide these people with liability ins. as long as it isn't an illegal kitchen.

       For waaaayyyy less then I pay.  Buzzards!

I know you especially understand this. My wife and I have thrown around the idea selling. We have had some healthy offers lately.

2 x anual gross cash would give our employees/family a couple of years to decide what they want to do and put us at the lake.

Who knows maybe a dirty little home kitchen to make cakes! Check out the website cake wrecks. I might install a large monitor in the shop and just loop it LOL.

 

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post #25 of 82

If you sell try this  x amount down and a % of sales till you are fully paid. Depending on the gross you could get all money faster then notes over years.   And to hell with the law I would post a sign right away notifying customers about illegals and the consequences that they could face. That is not illegal on your part.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #26 of 82

Boy is this a hot topic. But first off, I love the term "carpet bomb" in reference to advertising flyers. Kind of like pop-up windows on the net. Except worse.

 

Coincidentally, Arizona just had a law signed by the governor today that will allow candies and confections to be produced from a home-based kitchen. As long as they're non-potentially hazardous foods (i.e., custards, dairy products and the like). They have to be properly labeled with ingredients and contact information. Obviously this is a specific niche, but I've been trying to find a commissary kitchen to make caramels, fudge, marshmallows and the like for some time. The farmers markets in the Phoenix market have exploded (figuratively speaking) so kitchen space is hard to find and at a premium. The closest one I found that would sign an agreement is 18 miles from my home.

 

So I think it makes sense for what I'm producing, but I understand the frustration by legitimate, licensed bakers who are being undercut by "illegal" home bakers. However, the point was made that they'll eventually sicken someone and hopefully get busted. I totally agree that if you are baking/catering and have a license, stress that. Sherrycakes made a very good suggestion: scare potential customers away from unlicensed sellers by stating you are licensed and inspected and give them a checklist stressing that. Kudos! Heck, I'd even say, "Is saving XX% on your cake worth a trip to the hospital for dozens of people with vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea?"

 

Anyway, I'll be getting stall at the market soon. When it's so hot here everyone will abandon their spaces and I'll need ice chests to keep the candy from melting. But I plan on keeping my kitchen uber-clean anyway. Who needs to take chances?

 

And Panini, isn't it bogus that ANYONE can make an anonymous complaint to the HD? Someone did that to me years ago when I owned a little cafe. Oh yeah, it was my ex-business partner. Only he could have known the specifics of what the nature of the complaint was about.

 

ATTENTION! SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION: www.barbssweetsandtreats.com

Not quite completed, but it's up there and I got tired of dealing with building a website.  I also think my prices are too low, but I based them on what the other vendors priced their stuff at.

post #27 of 82
Thread Starter 

ChefEdB,

Ney.ney,ney This is definately not the time to play bank.  CASH!! My financials will support a full loan. If I'm smart about it

I won't choke on the taxes.

 

blwilson,

This is absolutely not directed towards you!

If I hear one more person say it's just to expensive to do things the right way. I'll puke.

GD right it's expensive and a big risk. That's what going into business is all about.

There are numerous ways to make extra income legally. This whole idea of playing food service

by those who are not experienced is why a sub par product is becoming the norm. Getting a product

cheaper from an unprofessional or unethical business is one of the biggest reasons this country

is becoming a global joke. HELLO!! OUT SOURCING.

good chatting bl.

panini

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post #28 of 82

You are fortunate in this banking enviorment to be able to secure financing. You must have over the years built up good repore with bankers. That means you ran a good place. More power to you.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #29 of 82

blwilson.

    Arizona has made a huge error and it will come back to haunt them. If one of the products from these home bakers makes someone sick

The purchaser or consumer can not only now sue the one who made it, but can also sue the county, city, or state for allowing the production of this product. This is a lawyers field day . I would not be surprised if they did not use their lobbying power to help this pass.

        Internal Revenue as well may also take a look at these home business ventures as most of them are operated under the table. The provider of the product is putting all they have at risk by not being insured for product liability, they could lose their house and be in debt for the rest of their lives.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #30 of 82
Thread Starter 

Chefedb,

  You're right. A dozen years ago I wanted to open our current retail location. I was doing well with the wholesale business and didn't figure it

would be hard to get some financing. It is a very affuent part of town. I went to the big banks and they basically required 100 k of cash,

to finance 100.k . Especially since there was a popular bakery one street over that a pretty good 20 yr. reputation.

  I walked into this small 2 branch local bank and sat with I thought was a loan officer but turned out to be the VP. We learned that I had

done his daughters wedding cake. blah blah. He said they were so small that he only would be able to offer me a line for 50k.

Paid myself and the bank back in a yr. I will always reccomend a small personal bank when going into business. There are now

23 banks within walking distance and they just raise their eyebrows when they solicit me and I tell them that I'm perfectly happy where I am.

Pan

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
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