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Someone in my neighborhood is running a home based catering business without any permit and are cooking in their garage. Is that legal? Who do I need to inform?
By Jayesh from CA
You'd have to call the local zoning office. Laws vary greatly from city to county to state.
Some places require a commercial kitchen for catering, some don't. Some don't require a business license if clients don't come on site and...I could go on.
A lot of places don't really even have laws if the business doesn't interupt regular neighborhood (reasonable) activities...some police departments deal with zoning issues, some don't.
Call or email one of your local government offices like city council or your county commissioners.
Personally, if they aren't disrupting the neighborhood, I wouldn't even bother. Neighborhood feuds can get very ugly. Loud parties, obvious drug activity - that's a cause for concern. A basic home-based business in this economy...eh, I'd just leave it be.
I was reading about this sort of thing not long ago (selling food). I feel like the health department has something to do with it. The kitchens are supposed to be meticulous. I suspect that there is some sort of license/permit required, and probably insurance (what if someone consumed the food, had a reaction and sued?).
Here is a link to a discussion about selling food on etsy. It might not be the exact same situation (selling online vs. catering locally), but it's similar. Maybe you'll get some good information. www.etsy.com/
As COflower pointed out, reporting someone in your neighborhood might cause conflict (or more conflict?). You have to weigh what feels "right" to you. Some people feel they should mind their own business, others feel like they have to do the right thing. Whatever you choose, I hope it works well for you. And, if they're cooking in their garage (yuck!), you know who NOT to call the next time you need a caterer! :-)
Well, you can have a home based business involving cooking, but rules are very stringent. I thought of it once, but involves a lot of detail, so gave up idea.
Depends on your town as person above says. The greatest problem would be fire hazard.
Just to be safe, are you sure what they are cooking is food? Did they say they were, or have you seen the food? They might be cooking meth.
I'd turn them in to health department /police. I was in the food industry for many years, and I see no way an ordinary person could keep food clean in a garage.
I know that in some states, you can cook outside or at least not in a kitchen and by pass needing a license and health inspection. I am familiar with a resturant that cooked hamburgers outside on a grill and thus by passed health inspection.
I would hesitate long and hard before I turned in a neighbor. Believe me, they will figure out who turned them in!
You can try your state department of health and see it they can help www.dshs.texas.gov/
Before you report, you may want to get feedback from neighbors and have the contact be from a group. There is safely and strength in numbers. In this day and age, a single complaint could leave you open for retribution. Safety first!
I live in Vegas and all up and down my street there are people selling food right out of their trunks and the back of vans and other things. My neighbor sells food right out of her apartment. People are in and out at all hours of the night.
I would report them to the Department of Health. States have strict rules for selling food.
My recommendation is designed to protect you...just because people are crazy...and safety first is my rule of thumb!
If you do complain, try to garner support of a group of people have that group either sign a petition or go with you to attend the area's counsel or commission or whatever they call your local government officials (the group that writes laws and ordinances).
I would worry that if you go it alone, someone will think you have an ax to grind and will make it tough for you. If you have a group, it may diffuse the situation somewhat.
Things to take forward are why the issue bothers you...for example...did you or someone you love get sick from the food...that is important to know or is it causing a traffic jam at rush hour that delayed you getting somewhere. Details are important. I find you get very little support if you say you have a problem, but offer no concrete details WHY you have the problem.
The wheel with the most information in their squeak often gets the most attention...the powers that be like info...so if you can tell a story of the problem, not just say THERE IS A PROBLEM, you may get more action.
This is a hard situation. Is this bothering anyone else in your neighborhood? Would anyone suspect you are filing a complaint?
I've seen sell from home but they have a sellers permit or some sort of certificate? It's a little complicated but varies depending on location.
If you are living in a residential area then I believe you have a right to complain. With this many people involved - your neighbor and "people up and down your street" it is possible someone might/would retaliate in some manner if they become aware of who filed a complaint.