Food & Drink

Home bakers, caterers and potential restaurant owners can learn about regulations at free classes

LaSheila Yates, chief diversity officer at the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission, introduces Mayor Ron Corbett at the
LaSheila Yates, chief diversity officer at the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission, introduces Mayor Ron Corbett at the Community Cultural Celebration and Expo at the Cedar Rapids Public Library in Cedar Rapids on March 18, 2017. Yates has since left that role and is president of the Multicultural Small Business Institute. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

People who want to open a restaurant or home catering or baking business but don’t know where to start can learn more at upcoming free classes.

The Multicultural Small Business Institute will host the classes. The first one, focused on business licensing requirements and regulations in Linn County for restaurants, will be 6 p.m. March 17 on the second floor of Four Oaks Bridge, 2100 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids. The second, focused on catering and home bakery start-ups, will be 6 p.m. April 14 in room 333 of the Harris Building, 1020 Sixth St. SE, Cedar Rapids.

Institute president and founder LaSheila Yates previously was chief diversity officer for the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission, among other roles. She said while many classes and programs exist to help people learn business skills, many people are not aware of the different regulations — things like what kind of sprinkler system they will need — they will have to follow before they can open a business. In addition, not everyone who wants to open a food-based business has the opportunity or desire to attend business school.

“My passion is to provide opportunities for people in any environment, especially minorities, women and people with disabilities,” Yates said. “There are people whose degree doesn’t match up with their career opportunities. My role is to connect them with resources.”

She said she also wants business owners to be aware of how to make their business accessible for people with disabilities. She has a disability herself and said many people don’t consider accessibility when planning their business.

People can register for the restaurant class at and for the catering and home bakery class at

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