Starting a Food Business in NJ

I have always dreamed about running a baking business for people with food allergies & on their health journeys, and this dream has become a reality! One year ago I found the gluten free kitchen space at “Shore is Yummy” and the rest is history. I wanted to take everyone back in time and talk about my journey to finding a kitchen and starting the business.

New Jersey is one of the few states that does not have a cottage law. A cottage law means that small food business can prepare baked items for sale out of their house. In NJ, you can only legally prepare food in your house for religious organization bake sales and nothing more. Therefore, you must find a commercial kitchen space if you want to start a food business.

Finding a space is not as easy as it sounds. If you know a local restaurant owner you always can cook out of their kitchen, but this most likely means you need to lug your supplies & equipment back and forth (which is also “illegal” because you are supposed to keep all your supplies for your business in the licensed kitchen). There are “co-op” kitchens throughout the state. Most of these are in inner cities (Trenton, West Orange, Newark, ect) and are great opportunities for new businesses because they provide not only licensed commercial kitchen space, but also classes for new entrepreneurs. Another difficulty with working out of a restaurant is getting your goods to your customers. You most likely will have to do solely deliveries, or sell at markets, or wholesale at other retail stores.

Finding a kitchen space is its’ own adventure because you also want to find a space that is convenient for you, as you will most likely be putting in early and late hours on a weekly basis. It took me one activate year of looking to find a commercial kitchen space. I not only wanted a space that was affordable and a good location, but also a space that was allergen friendly (which is REALLY hard to find). I wanted to commit to a fully gluten free business, and therefore needed a gluten free kitchen.

When I met Lois from Shore is Yummy, she had just opened her kitchen and was interested in having me join her. Her wonderful gluten free kitchen is now also home to two other business, Perfect Blends and the Waffle Snob. It is great to have the chance to talk to other new business owners and bounce ideas off each other. It is easy to feel isolated and alone when you are dealing with issues setting up your business and I am grateful to have had everyone’s help while I was getting things set up.

You also have to register with the state (get your business license). Once you have that, you need liability insurance. Then you need to check in with your county’s food inspector to get any necessary licensure required by the town. Every town is different in their requirements- which was very confusing when I was trying to find out what to do!

Once you have all your paperwork in order, the fun begins! How do I market my goods and find customers? I am still (and will always be) on their journey, but what I found is to actively participate in events, make donations to events where potential customers might attend, and run workshops! We also participated in the Asbury Park Farmer’s market this summer, which was great for meeting people in the area.

We are one year into running our business, and I am excited to see how we have grown in the past year. I am looking forward to the upcoming year and seeing what it holds in store for us!

Thank you for reading about “Starting a Food Business in NJ”. Please email me at simplydelightfultreatsnj@gmail.com with any questions.