Baker whips up business
DRC/Al Key Jessica Griffith boxes up fresh baked cookies in the kitchen of her Krum home to take to her daughter’s after-school program on Tuesday.Thanks to the Texas Cottage Food Law and Stiff Peaks Confections, you can now get cookies delivered at 2 a.m. if the craving strikes. “When the bars close, we are still out delivering,” said Jessica…
Thanks to the Texas Cottage Food Law and Stiff Peaks Confections, you can now get cookies delivered at 2 a.m. if the craving strikes.
“When the bars close, we are still out delivering,” said Jessica Griffith, who owns the Krum-based bakery with her husband, Ian Harrison.
But it’s not just any type of bakery; it’s a home bakery that until Sept. 1 wasn’t allowed under state law.
The Texas Cottage Food Law, also known as the Texas Baker’s Bill, allows people to sell non-potentially hazardous baked goods from their own homes. Those include cookies, cakes, breads, doughnuts, pastries and pies. The law also allows jams, jellies, dry herbs and herb mixes.
No inspections. No license required.
Twenty-three states have a similar law, according to www.texascottagefoodlaw.com. Other states that added a law this year were Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, South Dakota and Washington.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time for Griffith and Harrison.
They had been trying to open up a bakery with late-night delivery in downtown Denton but were having trouble changing an existing building into one that supports a kitchen.
“The cottage food law is our saving grace,” Harrison said.
The couple still plans to open up a storefront some day — this just allows them an alternative way to get started.
“The way we’re making our niche in the market is we are making late-night deliveries,” Harrison said.
Stiff Peaks is open seven days a week from 7 to 11 a.m. and from 5 to 9 p.m., as well as extended hours Thursday through Saturday from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.
The couple wanted to reach bar patrons and students up late studying.
“That’s our moneymaker,” Harrison said.
People call to place an order, giving their credit or debit card number over the phone so that Harrison and Griffith meet the law’s requirement that the transaction be made at the house of the business owner. And then the baked goods will be delivered.
The bakery charges a $2 delivery fee and requires a $10 minimum order to make it worth their while, Griffith said.
There are challenges due to the law’s restrictions.
For instance, home bakers can’t sell items such as pumpkin pies and cheesecakes because they are considered perishable.
The law does not allow them to sell goods at a booth at festivals or community markets.
There also is a $50,000 cap on the annual gross income a home bakery can make from the sale of its baked goods.
Although a food handler’s license isn’t required, Harrison is working on getting his. Griffith is already ServSafe certified in food protection management.
The couple has two part-time employees — a delivery driver and a bakery assistant — and is looking to hire more as business picks up.
“We want to grow,” Griffith said. “We want to grow into a commercial space. We want to grow into a franchise.”
But not everyone sees the law as a dream come true.
Dorothy Arrington, who owns the Purple Cupcake, actually closed her home-based bakery because the law changed. She baked cakes for different occasions, especially weddings, and hosted cupcake parties. But she had to rent commercial kitchen space in Fort Worth to do her baking, which can be expensive.
Arrington said she’s seen tons of home bakeries pop up since the law passed, and the competition interfered with her business.
“I changed my entire business because of the law,” she said.
So instead Arrington learned to make soaps that look like cupcakes, operating under the same name as her previous business.
All the soaps and candles she now sells are dessert-inspired, including items scented like doughnuts and, for the holidays, peppermint bark.
But it hasn’t been all bad, Arrington said. She’s been in the wedding industry for a decade, and getting out of it has decreased her stress level.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .