Saturday, July 11, 2009

DEATH MATCH: Rural Colonial Charm VS Commercial Baking Space

The baking space, she's been found!  But these are just the early stages. We’ve made an offer on a lovely house with a mixed use pedigree, i.e. it’s zoned for residential and commercial use. It took a while for said offer to be accepted but now we’re at that stage where we await closing and I move forward with all due diligence.

The first step I always take in preparing a baking site is to call in the Vermont Health Department. There’s a check list burned into my brain:

(1) 3 bay sink
(2) hand wash sink
(3) smooth, cleanable surfaces
(4) vinyl “molding” along the floors for easy cleaning
(5) mop sink
(6) self shutting doors
(7) proper ventilation

Yet knowing these few things isn’t enough. Because while I think I’ve found a space that’s going to work as-is with a few additions from my checklist, I always discover an unheralded money pit. Take for instance those lovely hand-hewn, circa 17th century wood beams. I was quite taken with them myself. I thought they’d add a sense of timelessness to my early morning bakes. But rough-hewn is a big no-no in the world of sanitation. Remember my check list? SMOOTH, cleanable surface. That rustic charm overload is due to the very discernable hatchet marks gracing the wood’s surface. Ancient divets that collect grime and are immune to a modern sponge’s ministrations. Damn you, old house! Your provincial voodoo seduced me!

("hmmmm, where to place that 3-bay sink?")

But baking’s the thing; I musn’t be sidetracked and hypnotized by the heady magnetism of colonial hardscapes. Thankfully, the kind inspector respected the allure of the place and came up with a few solutions that would preserve the building’s charms and provide those smooth, cleanable surfaces.

So if you’ve got it in your head to start a food business and you’ve got a little architectural gem in mind for your venture, call your local health department post haste! 

Next deathmatch: 3-bay sink VS. original wide plank wood floors!  Who wins?