Long Beach is a village of cottage businesses, mini-enterprises where home cooks and bakers create astonishing grub from their homes, package it, and offer it for sale at such establishments as Portfolio and MADE by Millworks in DTLB.

Success stories in Long Beach? Black Ring Coffee in North Long Beach, Wide Eyes Open Palms on Retro Row, and The Pie Bar, Romeo Chocolates, and Saints & Sinners Bake Shop in DTLB. All of these were once cottage businesses, their owners working diligently out of home kitchens and reselling their goods at farmers markets, stores, and even online; now, they are thriving shops with their own commercial kitchens and roasting spaces, dreams that folks like Kristin Colazas Delfs of Colossal Bread—currently renting space in a commercial kitchen—hope to achieve.

But hopes are limited.

“Expanding the Cottage Food laws is a win for small businesses in California,” said Laurie Gray, owner of The Pie Bar. “When I started The Pie Bar out of my home kitchen in 2015, I was able to get started and operate with low overhead. After about six months, when I wanted to expand my menu, I was required to move to a commercial kitchen. Finding a commercial space to work out of proved to be more challenging and costly than I expected. I’m happy that Governor Brown has signed this new law. It will allow more small businesses to get started and grow—a win for both the entrepreneurs and the community.”

With strict conditions on what can and can’t be sold—for example, meats and cheeses are prohibited, making anything from charcuterie plates to tacos prohibited for sale—cottage businesses need to hustle the hustle, building up enough capital to eventually open a brick-and-mortar, or face an exhausting, slow disappearance.

That all might change thanks to AB 626, otherwise known as the Homemade Food Operations Act and now officially signed into law by Gov.  Jerry Brown.

Authored by Coachella Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, the bill is pretty straightforward: The state will initiate a county-level permit and inspection process for home kitchens, granting successful kitchens the honor of being a “microenterprise home kitchen.” This expands upon the existing California Homemade Food Act, signed into law in 2012, that allowed home cooks to sell things like pickles and jams with low risk of food-borne illness.

The process for these microenterprises is the same as it is for any restaurant professional: Cooks have to be certified in handling food, get their kitchen inspected and agree to some unscheduled drop-ins from inspectors while they are open for business. And—an important note—the food must be sold directly to their customers; delivery services such as Maritime or Postmates, as well as mail, are prohibited.

“It decriminalizes a practice that has been going on for a long time and creates an economic empowerment opportunity for people who want to make a living from something they already do at home and enjoy doing,” said Assemblyman Garcia.

And we still have some hurdles, including the fact that Long Beach’s own health department, as well as the county’s, will have to buy into the option. Furthermore, to steady competition, if kitchens begin to make more than $50,000 per year in sales, they will be forced to move to or create a commercial kitchen.

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.