Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Logan Square Kitchen to close next month

Posted By on 05.16.12 at 12:48 PM

In a couple months, this will be gone
Logan Square Kitchen owner Zina Murray announced today via the LSK blog that the shared-use kitchen will close at the end of June. The reason? Endless licensing and inspection hassles from the city.

In 2010 Martha Bayne chronicled LSK's ongoing battle with city bureaucracy in a Reader article that also touched on the trials and tribulations of other local shared kitchens like Kitchen Chicago. Logan Square Kitchen's main issue at the time was that the city wanted to classify the business as a banquet hall (there's an events space in the back of the building), which would have required it to provide parking. Murray submitted her case to the zoning board of appeals in November 2010 and won, but the problems apparently didn't stop there. Murray writes:

It’s a sad time when our government kills the very things that can heal our City. Logan Square Kitchen was designed to heal the local economy, environment and food system all at once. It was an innovative, bold idea that never had its chance. The Dept of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) began hammering nails in its coffin before we even opened our doors in 2009 and hasn’t stopped. Unfortunately, we see no end to regulatory burdens, which will continue to block our ability to grow a healthy business.

The shared-kitchen ordinance that was finally implemented last year looked like good news for shared kitchens—it created a new category of business license for users of the kitchens and cut the fee for the license in half. According to Murray, though, it introduced other problems, which she detailed in a blog post last fall. Today, she wrote:

When our licensing difficulties ceased, they were just beginning for our clients. Before the “helpful” Shared Kitchen Ordinance that took effect Sept 1, 2011, we got clients licensed in a week or two. Of course, we had to be inspected by Health each time. Now, we're the inspections have stopped, but it takes 1-3 months and multiple trips to City Hall. Unfortunately, Mayor Emmanuel’s new ‘streamlining’ of business license ordinance that passed last week does not offer any streamlining for shared kitchens.

There are 20 businesses currently working out of Logan Square Kitchen that will have to find new digs. Any information about available kitchens, Murray says, is welcome.

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