If you think the Dodd-Frank or ObamaCare regulations are rough, try opening a wood-fired pizza restaurant in New York City.
That's my takeaway from the Kickstarter campaign page of Pizza Moto. Regular readers of this site will know it doesn't usually feature endorsements of dining establishments, but I will make a rare exception in this case to say that these guys, operating from a wood-burning oven they tow behind a truck, make some of the best pizza I have ever tasted, and I am particular about pizza.
To make the transition to a storefront from a trailer-oven based business operating at flea markets and catering gigs, the owner operators have a $50,000 Kickstarter campaign going to fund the renovation of a historic pizza oven. What caught my eye, in the section on "risk," were the regulatory hurdles:
The biggest challenge we will face is making sure the oven meets current environmental and building standards. Because the oven is so old, the Department of Buildings will require us to pass muster as if we were building a new oven - nothing will be grandfathered in. ...We will also build a brand new, 2-story chimney that passes NY's current solid fuel device code. The oven has to pass a battery of tests from various New York City management agencies governed by the Department of Buildings including a "sight and smell" emissions test. We are working with a talented and experienced NY State Professional Engineer to generate and license technical drawings of the oven as is it now and as it will be, once it is brought up to code - the tests will largely be making sure that our oven construction adheres to the parameters of his approved plans. We have a wonderful team of engineers, contractors, and expediters that will support and facilitate the process of passing all necessary tests and meeting codes...
"Expediters!" A two-story chimney to meet a "sight and smell" emissions test! The punchline here is that these folks aren't applying to build in some delicate alpine meadow or national park, but on Hamilton Avenue in Brooklyn, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. If the new restaurant reeks of hardwood smoke and tomato sauce, anyone within smelling range would have to be grateful that something is covering up the smell of the diesel truck fumes and cement-truck exhaust.
Anyway, that's the reality in New York, that an entrepreneur setting out to grow seeks money not so much for marketing expenses or salaries or ingredients or capital equipment but for the cost of complying with the environmental regulations, or hiring professionals — "expediters" — who can make the system navigable, for a fee.