Shared kitchen wins battle against Chicago red tape

November 26, 2010

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Logan Square Kitchen’s Zina Murray has prevailed before a city zoning panel.

A small-business incubator has won a round in a long fight against Chicago red tape.

Over the last six years, at least three shared kitchens have opened in Chicago. They’re for caterers, bakers, confectioners and others who can’t afford their own facilities.

The City of Chicago still does not recognize the kitchens' business model. That has lead to more health inspections and licensing hassles.

“When you get these extra regulatory burdens, it’s almost like people are throwing a refrigerator on your back and asking you to keep running,” says Zina Murray, who opened Logan Square Kitchen in a vacant storefront last year.

The city wanted to classify Murray’s business as a banquet hall, a designation that would have required her to provide parking.

So Murray brought the classification to the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. The board told us this week that it’s siding with her.

Murray’s next struggle is to open, and properly license, an event space to go with the shared kitchen. “We need businesses like this to help our economy recover,” she says.

Chicago zoning officials did not immediately return our calls for comment about the ruling.