2 Ways to Start a Food Business without a Store Front in Arizona

If there is one single thing that a person could profit substantially off of with black people, it would have to be some good food. We might complain about pricing or some other minor inconvenience, but never mind that lol, 9 times out of 10 if the food is fire a business can expect to see an increase in loyal returning customers. Good food is a big deal in the black community. It is the hot commodity at every major and minor family gathering, celebration, and grievance. Black people will talk about you real bad for cooking a bad dish or not knowing how to cook.

In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to sell food to customers in Arizona and the type of businesses you can open within the food industry. Some options will have very few steps and not so many extra expenses. (Keep in mind. this is probably going to cause you some inconvenience at some point.) You could be up and running in as little as a week, depending on your effort and organization.

As with any business that is opened in Arizona, there are certain steps you need to follow. You will need to register with the state as a business entity. Then, obtain an EIN and TPT. The EIN allows the government to identify you as a business, like the social security number for people, mainly for tax purposes. The TPT is for the tax exempt purchases you plan to make for the business. In addition to those items, depending on the business route you decide to take, you’ll need the food, a kitchen, and packaging.

The first and most easiest food business you can start in Arizona is from home. That’s right.. I said from home, like in your own kitchen, not a costly commercial space. To start a food business from home, you will need to register for the Cottage Food Program, offered by the Arizona Department of Health Services. To register for the program you will need to be interested in cooking items from their approved foods menu and you will need to obtain and maintain an active food handlers card.

The list of approved items include popular items like popcorn, sweet breads, cookies, donuts, and many more. The list of approved foods is not infinite, unfortunately, but there is still a tremendous amount you can do in business with the food items that did make it through the approval cuts. It’s 2021, we know business can survive off one quality product and it would not hurt to make the product available in a couple different variations. Haven’t you heard of ‘finding your niche’? A great goal to master as a new business owner in a ‘saturated market’ is the art of specialization. In relation to bringing value to your customers, this is priceless. The restricted items are considered potentially hazardous and include food items that require refrigeration, perishable baked goods, and meat.

I can easily name you 5 descent sized donut shops in the Phoenix area, maybe more. These places might sell a couple extra items like beverages, but for the most part their business has been built around the production of donuts. There is also a substantial amount of restaurants owners, who got their start making one single recipe that was in high demand amongst their friends and family. If you can make a unique and quality single product offered in a few different ways and create a local demand for it, you can build a successful long business term. Scaling a business is completely at your discretion, you could keep it as a side hustle or make it full time.

While registering for the Cottage Food Program can be limiting in the foods that you can create as a chef, the start up costs as a new business owner are fairly small. In the long run, with the right amount of effort, this will not only balance, but tip the scale in your favor, financially. Most local businesses in the food industry of all levels partner with local wholesalers like US Foods Chef Store, Restaurant Depot, or Shamrock Food Service to get quality products and maximize savings and profits.

Another way to sell cooked food in Arizona without a storefront is by renting a commercial kitchen or by finding a restaurant owner willing to negotiate terms to share their kitchen with you. When you have the proper kitchen setup for a commercial environment, your menu options expand quite a bit. For this option, it would be wise to closely review the terms of whatever agreement you sign for the kitchen being used in your business.

Understand, a shared kitchens can most likely mean time constraints. More than often you are joining a kitchen that already have active tenant. In that case, you hours of availability will revolve around those tenants closed hours. So.. yes, you can get creative with your menu and make practically what ever you want, but be mindful of the kind of food dishes you are able to make with the time available. Also, determine what available options would make the most sense financially. Some terms or items to consider when negotiating shared kitchen space would include:

cost per prep hour/cook hour

a list of prohibited foods, if any

is food storage included or separate?

Is there parking access for customers or delivery drivers?

Running a business out of a shared kitchen is most ideal for people looking to get into personal chef services, catering services, or virtual restaurants. Virtual restaurants are delivery or pick up only type restaurants, these business owners save big time on the expenses of offering dine in services. A number of these restaurants have been popping up on the major food delivery platforms Uber and Doordash.

The platforms now even have options to set up all the logistics and everything for business owners, all you would have to do is cook the dishes and meet the demand of your orders. Of course, that comes with a cut into your profits. Standard take away commission for these platforms is 30% and that’s if you just put your restaurant on their platform. That’s the cost of using the audience and the delivery contractors of major food delivery platforms. Understand this, you always have the option to negotiate other terms if what is offered by Uber or Doordash will not work for your business.


If you like cooking or baking, you can make a career or business out of it in Arizona. It quite simply to get started and build something amazing. We discussed two paths you can take to jump start a business in the local food industry. So many doors can open to a person when they just stop hesitating and get started. Whether you choose to start home based or jump into a commercial kitchen, the point is to get it started. Figure out what you don’t know on the way to the end goal.

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