The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Garage Bakery, Anyone?

Rivers Rising Bread's picture
Rivers Rising Bread

Garage Bakery, Anyone?

Hello all!

I am a cottage food baker in California, meaning I legally bake bread in my home kitchen and sell it at a local farmer's market. I am currently maxed-out on production...I'm baking 100-140 loaves at a time plus baguettes, cinnamon rolls, ciabatta, dinner rolls, english muffins, etc. Everything I bake is sourdough. Baking this much bread in my home kitchen and in my home oven plus 1 Rofco B40 is... a lot. I'm loving the baking but struggle with some of the logistics of doing without having a dedicated space just for baking.

This has my partner and I considering other options, including building out a two-car garage into a bakery. It was a machine shop until recently so has electrical capacity for ovens, fridges, etc., I'm told. We are rural so aren't burdened by zoning. From what I have gathered so far, big hurdles for a project like this are: electrical needs, installing a hood, plumbing, etc. I'd like to get a clearer picture and see if this is a realistic idea for us, so I'm looking for advice from other bakers who have built out their own space for a small bakery.

Has anyone here in California specifically gone through the process of converting a garage into a licensed bakery? If you have, I'd love to chat about unexpected costs, env health dept requirements you weren't expecting, or anything else you find relevant.

If you'd like to check out what I'm up to and see more of my bakes, see my website or follow me on instagram @riversrisingbread . 

Thanks so much for any help!

Kelsey, Rivers Rising Bread

kendalm's picture

Haven't tried what you are considering.  I entertained the thought for 2 seconds and considered looking the details.  Your loaves look fantastic and interested to see how it all pans out for you.  Good luck !

arlo's picture


My wife and I's retail bakery is now 8 years old, having moved out of garage bakery about 6 years ago after a stint in a production commercial kitchen in the off hours prior. We owned all our equipment at the time so those costs are not factored, nor inflation.

We are based in Michigan, but converted an attached garage to a fully licensed Department of Agriculture Bakery some six years ago to make due while we found our downtown building. It started with ample conversations with; our neighbors, our city development, and the state.

At the time, money was tight and I did the layout and planning myself to submit to the city, and DoA. I hired in the plumbers, electric and what little Hvac we needed -baking only on two small rofcos at the time, I was deemed acceptable to not have a hood system due to the electric capacity and output of those ovens. We just installed a window and fan behind them to prevent the location from getting too hot. 

We had to run plumbing, this cost at the time around $10,000 since it needed to be insulated to not freeze in our Michigan garage, needed grease trap, proper air gap and be connected to our homes plumbing, properly. Which the State was adamant on. Also, it needed hand sinks and proper piping/venting for those as well. Plumbing is and will be expensive. Checking with local ordinances it may require its own separate high BTU water heater. Our current location required two tankless high capacity water heaters...

Our electric was around $6,000. This was for a; proofer, dough sheeter, two Rofco, Hobart, small grain mill and miscellany outlets along the wall. We had to install a new breaker for the equipment since the home was older and maxed. The existing location only had one or two outlets before we started.

Since customers were not coming to the bakehouse proper, the floors were sealed and smoothed existing concrete, around $2000, and the walls were FRP $1000-$1200 if I recall. The ceiling was re-drywalled and new lighting as well.

Overall for a 1 1/2 car garage to become a fully licensed operation in our state, I think it was close to $20,000. This was six years ago or so and using fully licensed contractors as a requirement for commercial operations.

Recently we finished re-doing a historic downtown building from the basement to the roof, over a year worth of solid labor for our current location. The process was much the same; start with the city, then the state licensing, they will help you and guide you so no costly 'We should do this and see what they think' mistakes happen.

The cost was 10x more of course, but the prior experiences helped us and the expectations.

In hindsight, the garage was great but we were capped so to never being allowed to have real, honest walk-in foot traffic. Though, if that isn't desired and farmers market/wholesale is the goal, it's a great experience.

When we sold the home, they tore everything out and parked their cars in it. That's life.

Best of luck,



pmccool's picture

But happy to know that you and your bakery are thriving. 

You are in Tecumseh, yes?  That isn't on the way to anywhere for us (we're close to Traverse City), so I don't know when we might be able to drop in for a visit and a nibble.  The closest we've been lately was Jackson last weekend for a friend's funeral. 

Still, it's good to see you post again.