Logan Square Kitchen to close (and not quietly)
Zina Murray probably didn't think opening a shared-use kitchen would be that hard. After all, Kitchen Chicago had been doing it for a few years, and weren't they successful?
But time and time again, Murray found herself frustrated by the city, who prevented—or at least considerably slowed down—what she was trying to accomplish.
Now, Murray's kitchen, Logan Square Kitchen, will close. But Murray is not going away quietly. Just now, she released a bold statement to the press that it is no exaggeration to call an attack on the city.
Read it after the jump. Discuss it in the comments.
A statement from Zina Murray, owner of Logan Square Kitchen:
LSK is a shared commercial kitchen that small food businesses rent by the hour. Currently, about 20 active businesses use LSK as their production facility. All of them will need to find new kitchens in order to keep their businesses open. All clients will be able to continue to produce until June 28, 2012. We’ll be working to support our clients during this transition, and welcome any information about available Kitchens.
It’s a sad time when our government kills the very things that can heal our City. Logan Square Kitchen was designed to heal the local economy, environment and food system all at once. It was an innovative, bold idea that never had its chance. The Dept of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) began hammering nails in its coffin before we even opened our doors in 2009 and hasn’t stopped. Unfortunately, we see no end to regulatory burdens, which will continue to block our ability to grow a healthy business.
Over and over we heard, “you did everything right.” See the Alderman before building purchase. All City Depts approve us through Green Building Permit Program. Go to BACP in advance of applying for license, completely disclosing the business model. Spend 3 months talking about what licenses we needed. Apply as directed. Told we ‘misrepresented’ our business. Told we can’t have license caused we’ve failed our “furniture inspection.” Correct that, and get licenses contingent on conditions we can’t meet. Then the Zoning folks try to shut us down. 20 health inspections. 18 months wrapped in red tape. Enduring intimidation and harassment, the resources we set aside to ramp up the business were instead used to pay lawyers and our mortgage while we were denied the right to operate.
While our licensing difficulties are over, they are just beginning for our clients. Before the “helpful” Shared Kitchen Ordinance that took effect Sept 1, 2011, we got clients licensed in a week or two. Now it takes 1-3 months and multiple trips to City Hall. Unfortunately, Mayor Emmanuel’s new ‘streamlining’ of business license ordinance that passed last week does not offer any streamlining for shared kitchens.
It should come as no surprise that we must close. LSK is collateral damage from choices that City employees make each day—people that have lost the ability to connect their actions with the consequences they cause. In all the many, many meetings I’ve had in City Hall in the past three years, there’s a question no one ever asks. “Is it good for our City?”