looking for advice: how to sell baked goods wholesale (to the retail trade) in VENTURA, CALIFORNIA

Joined May 26, 2010
i have done so much research and have come up with no specific answers.  this has become very frustrating.  i live in the Ventura County of California.  i am starting a business to bake organic cookies wholesale & retail.  my county health dept. has not given me specific answers, they say i have to deal with the state (but they dont answer their phones and they email me back with pdf documents that don't pertain to my questions).  eeekkk!

i am looking (not only for answers on how to go about this!) for a commercial kitchen (i think???).  the county says it cannot be a shared facility (but then they contradict themselves by adding "cannot be a shared facility if selling retail).  the state health dept. does not answer their phones, i cannot speak to a humanoid. 

-do i need to own my own commercial kitchen?

-can i rent a commercial baking kitchen?  is this allowed?

-are there any commercial bakers out there in my area that can guide me at all?

THANK YOU for any advice/leads...
Joined Aug 29, 2000
Hello, Organicbaker, and welcome to Chef Talk. We hope you'll return to the Welcome Forum and post an introduction of yourself.

However, this thread is better-placed in the Professional Baking and Pastry Forum, so I will move it there. Good luck with your enterprise! We look forward to your participation in the community.


Joined Feb 13, 2008
Do you need to OWN your own kitchen?  


Can you rent time and space in a commercial kitchen?  

Yes.  The mult-use restrictions mean the kitchen can't be used for purposes other than preparing food commercially.  For instance, you can't rent time in a church kitchen, or for that matter in a stable.

Is there anyone in Ventura who can help you figure out what to do?

Almost certainly.  You need to find a "consultant" who can at least point you in the right direction.  There are several public agencies and private organizations who can probably recommend a mentor with experience in food -- probably even in small wholesale. 

Check with the people renting commercial kitchen space.  If they don't have answers for you, many of their other clients will. 

Ask restaurant owners.  They went through a similar proces themselves.  Remember, you're not even asking for them to put you in touch with the right person.  All you need is a phone number which will get you in touch with someone who provide the right phone numbers.

Check with the SBA (Small Business Administration).  They used to have mentoring programs, I'm not sure if they still do.  There are a lot of retirees who want nothing more than to help (and stick their noses in your business, of course). 

When I set up a small business 20 years ago (inventing, manufacturing and wholesaling a few strange gimmicks) I got a little mentoring and a lot of rolodex help from a guy I found through Jewish Family Services.     

Fear not -- after you've got one or two phone numbers it gets a lot easier.  Still easier with a mentor.

Don't be too surprised about not being able to get answers from the County Health Department.  The food sections of County Health Department very often represent government at it's most inconsistent and most opaque.  Very often, you can't even get good answers from them when they're in your kitchen inspecting -- or at least not consistent answers which actually conform to the code. 

Good luck with them.  And good luck with the whole project. 

Hope this helps,

Joined May 5, 2009
You bet you do not need to build a kitchen. First,spend a few bucks on a lawyer or SBDC (free) to get through the red tape
(about 1K fro the lawyer). Then talk to the food and beverage manager at your local hotels. They are always looking for revenue and have big kitchens with great baking gear they never use. The SBDC small business development center can help with all this for free, to include the legal piece. Some folks don't like the SBDC, but I have to say they are a great asset. I have done this several times when cooking gigs out of state. I do not like restaurants as they can get well pushy with little room and when push comes to shove you lose regardless of the contract. Don't forget places like the ELKS, EAGLES, VFW etc either, they all have kitchens and love $$$. Some will do pro bono for the rent. I apologies if these accommodations are not in your area as I'm not familiar with Cali.



Can you rent time and space in a commercial kitchen? Yes. The mult-use restrictions mean the kitchen can't be used for purposes other than preparing food commercially. For instance, you can't rent time in a church kitchen, or for that matter in a stable.

Hello boar_d_laze,

So if I wanted to bake goods to sell at a farmers market or online, the health department wouldnt allow me to baked these goods in  "Church kitchen"?  Its a non profit and a thought it was health department certified. 


Tunisia aka "TJ"

(thinking about opening a online bakery)
Joined Feb 17, 2007
Normally a church cannot allow you to do this as they are a non-profit organization and can lose their charitable status if they lease space out to someone who will then make a product they will sell for a profit.  Pastor's wife AND pastry chef, here!  I have a commercial kitchen in my husband's church but that one is strictly for me to use for church and church-related functions which of course are all gratis. 

That's the law in Canada anyway.
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