How to Start a Bakery in California

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The aroma of fresh bread is irresistible, and it can make a bakery a successful new restaurant venture. The difficult California economy, combined with the popularity of baked goods, has convinced you a bakery is the right venue for the launch of your first restaurant. It takes a lot of planning and work to start a bakery in California; expect to invest a year or more preparing to open.

Determine what you will serve and write out you initial menu. Though this draft is likely not the menu you will open your bakery with, it will provide you the opportunity to ensure your vision is in line with the California community where you will open your bakery. It is also an invaluable tool for determining your food, equipment and labor requirements, calculating your costs and compiling your budget. Use your menu to list everything required to prepare and serve it. Decide on your kitchen equipment like ovens, refrigerators and workspace. Choose your furnishings, including the tablecloths, napkins, china and cutlery; ensure you remember details like coffee stirrers and to-go condiments, and don't forget the cash register.

Research the cost for everything on the list you developed from the menu, and use this to extrapolate your budget. All commercial operating budgets follow a standard structure: Sales/turnovers minus variable costs/used goods equals gross profit. Gross profit minus depreciation and interest equals profit. Calculate the yearly costs of food and the supplies required to serve it. Multiply the total cost of equipment by 30 percent, the allowable annual deduction, and add this to the cost of food and supplies. Determine how much profit you need to make and add this, along with any interest on loans, to your total. This gives you the amount of gross receipts, or sales/turnover, you must attain in order to be successful. Use this figure to ascertain how to price your products.

Decide on a location; California offers diverse environments from ultra-hip Hollywood to upscale Marin County. If your vision for your bakery is a quaint throwback to a more rustic time, a bustling neighborhood of college students may not be the optimum site. Explore the number of other bakeries in the area and determine if the community is large enough to support your store. Consider leasing a building previously used as a bakery to reduce the cost of retrofitting the space to accommodate a professional kitchen.

Register your business with the state of California; where you do this is dependent on your business structure. If your bakery is a sole proprietorship or a general partnership, you must obtain a "Doing Business As," or fictitious name, from the county where your bakery will be located. Limited liability partnerships and all corporate structures are required to file registration paperwork with the California secretary of state.

Obtain your sales and employer tax licenses and permits from the state of California. You will also need an employer identification number, which you can obtain from the IRS. Contact your local fire department to schedule a fire safety inspection, and the county health department to schedule your health inspection.

Put the finishing touches on your bakery in preparation of the inspections. All the utilities are required to be on, and the equipment must be installed and functional. Additionally, the health department will check to see that food and other supplies are in stock and properly stored. You are ready to start your bakery in California as soon as the licenses and permits are issued.

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About the Author

Based in Arlington, Texas, Michelle Diane has been writing business articles for six years. Her work has appeared in newspapers nationwide and on diverse digital outlets including Bounty, Breathe Again Magazine and LexisNexis. She is a University of Texas graduate and a presidential member of the National Society of Leadership.

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