Co-owner Ian Morales poses in a fully functioning hazardous material suit that he and his family uses to deliver handmade organic doughnuts to homes ordering from their family-owned Hazmat Bakery. They Morales siblings recently launched the business and are providing their goods via delivery only twice a week. | PHOTO COURTESY MARTIN MORALES
IMPERIAL — What started off as an at-home idea to bring joy to others during the pandemic, has now resulted in a rising business that already has a two-week waitlist for their sweet products delivered with a side of schtick.
While social distancing in their kitchen, Imperial siblings Martin, Claudia and Ian Morales were chatting over some doughnuts that Claudia had made when they started talking about opening a bakery.
“It was all a funny thought, and we were coming up with names. I threw out ‘Radioactive.’ Several synonyms came, and then I then said, ‘Hazmat Bakery.’ We all stayed quiet and liked the name,” Martin said in a recent interview.
Hazmat Bakery’s creative name came from the anything-but-delicious concept of COVID-19. But along with it developed the business’ distinct manner of delivery: someone dropping off doughnuts in a fully hooded, banana yellow, head-to-toe hazmat suit.
It’s almost too perfect.
“We already have a family business background. With Ian as the image, Claudia as the skill, and I with the management. All together we play a role in this business and provide smiles to those receiving our goods,” Martin said. “Everything fell into place. My younger sister has been baking for years and, I don’t know why, but my little brother had a full hazmat suit. What was funny about that was the suit is an actual hazmat suit; the respirator has the proper filtration system and everything.”
What has been a passion for many years has now allowed 20-year-old Claudia to start a business and share her talent as a chef with others. Recently, she baked several dozens of doughnuts to be given out to friends and family. A random act of kindness sparked much interest with her recipients, and later resulted in orders being requested.
“When I first started, it was a small amount for a few people, but from one week to another the demand jumped and it was more than I expected,” Claudia said. “I had never made that many before. Each day I learn to make these orders faster in an effort to supply our recipients.”
All of Claudia’s doughnuts are organic and handmade, coming in five flavors: chocolate-frosted twists, glazed original, sugar original, and two kinds of jelly-filled, mixed berry and strawberry.
They only deliver on Fridays and Saturdays and can be reached through Facebook and Instagram under Hazmat Bakery.
A day of baking would start around 6 in the morning and stretch until 3 in the afternoon for Claudia. Thereafter, items are packaged and prepared for shipment.
Although they are not an official business yet, the Morales family is working to complete all their certifications to not only operate as a home business but trademark their Hazmat Bakery logo and concept.
As of now, they are in the process of completing what is called a Micro Enterprise Home Kitchen Operations permit, otherwise known as MEHKO.
Imperial County Public Health Department, Division of Environmental Health states, “A MEHKO is a mini-restaurant in a home kitchen that is operated by the resident.” The permit is something new that was implemented as of Jan. 2.
There are a couple of rules with the MEHKO. One, the permit pertains to one person and one location; therefore, it is non-transferable. Next, those that operate under this permit must prepare food and provide it to its consumer in the form of pickup, delivery or dine-in within a 30-minute period. On top of that, it must be without the use of hot holding equipment.
Soon, the Public Health Department will further evaluate the Morales’ home and determine its eligibility to participate in MEHKO. If approved, the Morales family plans to maintain an at-home service where they deliver their doughnuts in a hazardous materials suit at your door.
All this attention has been due to the one-of-a-kind reaction the doughnuts’ recipients provide them.
“For me, the highlight is definitely the delivery. I do not need to go to the deliveries, but I like to go because I see how people receive and are so excited to see the hazmat suit. That is what makes it all worth it for me,” Claudia said.
As their business continues to flourish, the Morales family plans to further expand their menu to provide much finer pastries to their consumers.