The California Law That’s Supposed To Help Home-Based Cooks Isn’t Working
Last week, the Los Angeles outpost of Eater declared that a new state law implemented in Riverside County “could unleash a completely new kind of marketplace of home-cooked meals” and “revolutionize California’s food scene.”
“The newly implemented regulation allows anyone to run a licensed restaurant out of their home kitchen and dining room,” Eater reported. “No commercial space, no food truck, no ghost kitchen, and no staff is needed—just pull some local permits to get certified by the Riverside County public health office.“
That’s great news.
But two days later, and a few hundred miles up I-5, the San Francisco outpost of Eater reported something quite different: “Bay Area Officials Start Cracking Down on Hustling Chefs’ Pandemic Pop-Ups.”
“One of the Bay Area’s popular new pandemic-born food pop-ups has been shut down by Alameda County’s health department—a possible sign that tolerance is waning for the growing market of unemployed cooks who are selling homemade wares in legal gray areas,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
At their heart, the Eater articles focus on the same California law: Assembly Bill (A.B.) 626, the “microenterprise home kitchen operations” law, also known as the Homemade Food Act.
In Riverside, the law is doing exactly what it was intended to do.
“Because the bar for entry to restaurant ownership is high, and the cost of renting a retail kitchen is so great, an informal economy of locally produced and prepared hot foods exists in the form of meal preparation services, food carts, and communally shared meals,” the law declares. “However, due to a lack of appropriate regulations, many experienced cooks in California are unable to legally participate in the locally prepared food economy and to earn an income legally therein.”
But why exactly is a 2-year
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