May 4, 2011

City Passes Ordinance That Supports Shared Kitchens And Food Entrepreneurs

Today, an ordinance amendment passed through the Chicago City Council that eases current regulatory requirements placed on food businesses. The ordinance creates a special category of business license for shared kitchen operators and the food entrepreneurs that utilize these commercial kitchen spaces.

The amendment addresses the emerging business activity of shared kitchens that fosters entrepreneurial growth in the food industry.

“This ordinance supports an emerging creative food industry in Chicago. Shared kitchens serve as incubators for food businesses that do not have the start up capital to invest in a commercial kitchen,” said Mayor Richard M. Daley.

 “The ordinance gives small businesses additional resources and flexibility to start a business- and at the same time gives consumers opportunities to support locally produced products,” said Norma I. Reyes, Commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

The ordinance creates new license categories for shared kitchen operators and users.  Shared kitchen operators are required to follow all food safety requirements and ensure that businesses utilizing the kitchen are properly licensed as users. Shared Kitchen operators must also keep records on all users including a valid food sanitation certificate issued by the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The amendment accommodates food entrepreneurs by creating a special license called “Shared Kitchen Users.” The license provides new flexibility by allowing licensed users to utilize any licensed shared kitchen throughout the City.

License fees will also be more affordable for users. Under the current ordinance, both users and kitchen operators are required to apply for a Retail Food License and pay the same fee of $660 for a two year license. The new license fees for users will $330 for a two year license. To accommodate seasonal chefs or start ups, a short term user license category exists that is valid for 90 days and costs $75.

In addition, the new license streamlines the current process by eliminating the requirement for each single user to undergo an onsite inspection by the Chicago  Department of Public Health each and every time a new business applies for a license in a Shared Kitchen. Shared kitchen users will require a health consultation and menu review with a Sanitarian in lieu of an on-site inspection. Shared Kitchen Operators will continue to undergo onsite health inspections to ensure food handling requirements have been meet.


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