With legal worries, Kamal’s Kitchen closes but not for good

Kamal reads the paper. (Ben Katzner/TommieMedia)
Kamal Mohamed plans to reopen his kitchen in the coming months and said he hopes to expand the business to campuses throughout Minnesota. (Ben Katzner/TommieMedia)

Earlier this year, weekend nights were all business for junior entrepreneurship major Kamal Mohamed. He was the creative mind behind Kamal’s Kitchen, which served late night snacks to any customer looking to escape the agony of an empty stomach.

According to Mohamed, business was booming too, which made the members of Kamal’s Kitchen dream about the future of their cozy kitchen on Grand Avenue. But that dream got dragged back to reality once Mohamed and company realized that to do big things with their little business, they’d have to do it legitimately. That meant lawyers, licenses, a new location – the works.

That also meant Kamal’s Kitchen had to go, at least for the time being.

“I talked to a lawyer at St. Thomas, and she kind of explained the procedure to me,” Mohamed said. “Even though we washed our hands, even though we used gloves, even though we followed all that … we realized that we still have to work on a lot of things.”

Minnesota state law dictates that no one is allowed to partake in manufacturing, processing, selling, handling, or storing food unless the party has a license. Without a license, fines can range from $33 to more than $1,000. Mohamed and the rest of the members of Kamal‘s Kitchen, decided that the risk was not worth the reward, and made the choice to temporarily shut down instead of face potential legal action.

It was a hard choice, but the right one in Mohamed’s mind, especially for a group of college students with a lot on its plate already.

“We all have classes. We all have other activities that we have to work on,” Mohamed said. “We don’t see this as a failure. We see this as the next step.”

Junior L.J. Stead, who was a member of Kamal’s kitchen, also had a positive outlook.

“It was saddening, [but] we have a bigger vision for this,” Stead said. “In order to do that, we had to protect ourselves legally.”

Mohamed and Stead both believe that business would have stayed strong due to a loyal base of costumers, and both believe that a fresh start will benefit everyone involved, especially with the improvements they hope to make.

Stead hopes that Kamal’s Kitchen will be able to re-open within the next few months while Mohamed aims for a venue change and potentially an increase in the size of his operation. While subduing grumbling stomachs across St. Thomas campus, Mohamed doesn’t want to stop there. He’s dedicated to feeding students on college campuses around the state.

Mohamed’s ambition doesn’t surprise Stead. After all, it was those big dreams that started Kamal’s Kitchen in the first place.

“Don’t worry. Kamal’s Kitchen will be coming back,” Stead said. “Expect bigger and better things. When you’re sitting around a guy like Kamal, there’s always something in the works.”

Ben Katzner can be reached at bekatzner@stthomas.edu.

3 Replies to “With legal worries, Kamal’s Kitchen closes but not for good”

  1. Does this mean kids’ roadside lemonade stands are illegal? With fines that high, it seems like a good way to solve the states budget problems…

  2. hah, I think the kids get a pass… for now.  I kind of expected them to run in to legal issues by now actually, so it surprised me that THAT’S not what this article is about. Whenever you start making money off anything, there’s all sorts of rules. I always thought it would be a great idea to buy a lemonade chiller and set up a real professional looking lemonade stand out on a street corner and make some REAL money, but alas… rules and regulations foil my plans again…

  3. Kamal I am so proud of you! This whole legal stuff just means that your kitchen is too GOOD to be UN noticed and that you and your crew just need to step it up! Keep dreaming Big and Aiming Even Higher!!!

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