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Logan Square Shared-Use Kitchen Wins Appeal Against City

When you walk into Logan Square Kitchen, near Milwaukee and California avenues, you won’t see a fancy restaurant with well-decorated tables and expensive silverware. In fact, you probably won’t see any food at all. The most likely thing you’ll see is Zina Murray, the owner, sitting behind a table with her laptop and phone beside her.

But when you walk past the curtain that separates the front of the building from the back, you’ll come across what makes Logan Square Kitchen unique: a commercial kitchen with multiple small businesses working on their food products. Logan Square Kitchen holds possibilities for potential and current business owners and, thanks to an appeal made by Murray to Chicago’s Zoning Board of Appeals, it is here to stay.

Due to a conflict with the Chicago Department of Business Affairs, Logan Square Kitchen had its zoning classification changed in September 2009, Murray said, which could have caused her to lose her business license. After a year of attempting to appeal the decision, she had a hearing on Nov. 19, she said. A couple days after the hearing, she got a call from her lawyer stating that the Zoning Board of Appeals had made a unanimous decision.

“We got a courtesy call on the ruling on the 21st of November … saying that the board was ruling in our favor,” said Murray. “So now we’re waiting for the letter.”

Logan Square Kitchen is one of three shared-use kitchens in Chicago, and allows people to rent out the kitchen on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis. What makes Logan Square Kitchen unique over similar facilities is that it is green certified. In May, Logan Square Kitchen received the LEED Gold certification from U.S. Green Building Council.

“We’re certified with the second-highest rating you can get in green construction,” said Murray. There are only two other LEED Gold restaurants in the city of Chicago, and less than 120 LEED Gold or Platinum buildings in the state, she said.

A shared-use kitchen is a distinctive service that allows people to have access to a licensed commercial kitchen without having to own one themselves. “When you want to start a food business, it’s illegal to make food in your house yourself and sell it,” said Murray. “You have to prepare food that’s going to be sold in a health-inspected kitchen.”

Not only does Logan Square Kitchen provide opportunities to prospective business owners, it also provides services to current business owners. “Here you only have to pay for the amount of kitchen that you need or that you want,” said Murray. Being able to rent out the kitchen gives businesses flexibility, such as cake stores that specialize in wedding cakes, to use the kitchen when they need it, said Murray.

Some businesses even use Logan Square Kitchen as their main place of operations. “We’re here usually Monday through Friday for about six hours a day,” said Kris Swanberg, the 30-year-old owner of the Nice Cream ice cream company. Nice Cream has been renting out Logan Square Kitchen since June and has offices in the basement, said Swanberg. When she heard that Logan Square Kitchen may close down she was upset, but is “really pleased” to hear that the store is staying open.

“It [Logan Square Kitchen] is a really, really great asset to the neighborhood and to the community,” said Swanberg.

For those interested in starting a business in the food industry, visit Logan Square Kitchen at 2333 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

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