The City Council will further discuss at a subcommittee meeting Councilor-at-Large George Rotondo’s proposal to investigate the feasibility of having cottage food operations in Revere.
Rotondo proposed the motion at the April 5 Council meeting. It would basically allow residents to produce food in their own kitchens and sell those items directly to consumers.
Rotondo indicated that cottage food operations are permitted in other Massachusetts communities and in 28 states across the nation.
“I would love to have this for the City of Revere,” began Rotondo in his remarks. “It particularly helps a certain group in a community. This is something that is done in Boston. It’s done in other communities, in 28 states, and throughout Europe. We have so much to offer. We have a very, very diverse community. Why not give families the opportunity that cannot rent commercial space to start a business in their homes and hopefully get a co-sharing facility?”
Rotondo said the city has a wide variety of restaurants on Shirley Avenue, stating that “you can experience the world there.”
Ward 3 Councilor Arthur Guinasso spoke in opposition to Rotondo’s motion.
“I think that’s the exact reason why I would have reservations about this – because we have established places called restaurants, places where you can pick up food.
“But the most important thing is that the buyer is being protected by oversight responsibility by Inspectional Services checking the kitchen to make sure it’s clean and sanitized. This is a process that’s being done in places where there are remote areas. We have beautiful businesses on Broadway. You can get any kind of food you want.”
Guinasso said such food businesses operating out of homes could hurt the bottom line of established restaurants and bakeries.
Guinasso added, “If someone’s making 400 bucks selling lasagna out the back door, that’s wrong. I would be so against this [proposal]. I can’t imagine buying food from someone else’s house. And I don’t think other people should do the same because there’s no protection for them.”
Councillor-at-Large Steven Morabito spoke in favor of the proposal.
“The last time I checked, this is the land of hope and opportunity,” said Morabito. “Having residential kitchens will give the average person the opportunity of creating a business without the overhead start-up costs of running a business. It’s the same thing as having a festival where Italians use to sell rice balls at the corner of Shirley Avenue. It just gives the food entrepreneur the opportunity to create and sell homemade foods.”
Dimple Rana, director of Revere On The Move, made an informative presentation on behalf of Rotondo’s motion, stating that it would be of great benefit to Revere residents and its food economy.
Rana said the proposal would allow residents to start their own small businesses without all the overhead and capital expenses. Residentials would be required to apply for a state or local permit and comply with local ordinances.
Rana verbally provided the councilors with a list of foods that residential kitchens would be allowed to produce and sell “under cottage laws.”
“They could sell baked goods, a loaf of bread, pastries, cookies, cakes, fruit pies, candies, pop corn, cotton candy, jams and jellies and preserves, dried fruits, dried herbs, seasonings and mixtures, cereals, granola, fruited or unfruited nuts, and vinegar and flavored vinegars without any oil,” said Rana.
Rana ended her remarks by stating that “this is a great motion that our city and our residents can benefit from.”
City Council President Anthony Zambuto invited Rana to provide information at the Council’s subcommittee meeting.
“In order to get people on board, we’re going to have to educate people as to the safety of this,” said Zambuto.
Ward 6 Councilor Richard Serino concluded the discussion, stating that he initially had concerns about the proposal, but after listening to Rana’s presentation about the safety precautions that would be implemented, “I look forward to learning more about this in sub-committee, and I think it’s a great idea and that we should allow it.”