California should be doing more to help small business succeed. Last week a ceremony at the County Administration Building sponsored by the Cook Alliance and Institute for Justice celebrated Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKOs), established under Assembly Bill 626 in 2018, legislation I strongly supported.
MEHKOs empower home cooks to attain self-sufficiency, turning neighborhoods throughout California into hotbeds of food innovation. MEHKOs provide supplemental income for lower income individuals, and create economic opportunities by allowing business formation at minimal cost. Many MEHKO entrepreneurs are women, immigrants and lower-income individuals who will now be able to provide stable incomes for their families.
The original bill had its limitations. MEHKOs could generate no more than $50,000 in gross annual revenue, and were restricted to serving less than 60 meals each week. These restrictions left little room for profit after expenses, and severely limited the growth of home kitchen enterprises.
That’s why I introduced AB 1325 this year, jointly authored with Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), original author of AB 626. The bill raises the sales cap to $100,000 per year and allows MEHKOs to sell up to 90 meals per week. Safety standards in place for restaurants also apply to MEHKOs, and each of California’s 58 counties must grant approval before they can operate. All home kitchens must pass approved food safety certifications, must meet existing food handler requirements, and must provide local enforcement agencies specified information regarding operating procedures and types of food being prepared. Like traditional restaurants, operating permits must be obtained from local agencies.
AB 1325 passed with overwhelming support and went into effect July 21st. MEHKOs have been approved by San Diego County, and hopefully, will soon become permanent.
California has a reputation for being unfriendly to small business. MEHKOs provide ample proof that we can support and encourage businesses – we just need to get government out of the way.