Berkeley; Calif. -- A new restaurant has opened in Alameda County that is truly about home-cooked meals.
The Bao House is the first home restaurant to open in Berkeley.
Under new law, AB 626, microenterprise home kitchen operations, can sell food products in their private home residence. The bill was passed by Governor Brown in 2018.
The private home has to be authorized by the Department of Environmental Health and issued a permit.
Each county within the state has to opt in to AB 626 before a resident can open their own microenterprise home kitchen operation.
Akshay Prabhu, owner of The Bao House, dreamed of opening his own food business while he was studying neuroscience at UC Davis.
"I have always wanted to open a restaurant," said Akshay Prabhu, CEO of Foodnome. "Starting a food business is really expensive. The whole time I was in college, I wanted to get into the food industry, but it seemed like more difficult to get into that than it did into neuroscience."
Prabhu created a food vending cart powered by a pedal, known as the "Bao-cycle." Prabhu sold steamed buns before he was shut down by the local health department.
He was shut down a second time, after attempting to host a pop-up restaurant.
That is when he decided to take matters into his own hands and began lobbying in Sacramento.
"That was kind of the final straw for me and it put a fire in me to do something about it," said Prabhu. "I actually started lobbying at the state level to create a permit for you to start a small scale restaurant in your house. We got this law passed. I can finally start this home restaurant I have been wanting to start."
To help other home chefs, Prabhu created Foodnome, an all-in-one online platform to help promote home restaurants and food products.
"We are trying to create this new avenue for people to enter the food industry," said Prabhu. "Diners can go on the Foodnome app and search for either take-out and even some dine-in. The home cooks can set their own menu and hours and post their meals."
Currently, there are 35 home cooks working to open a home restaurant in the Bay Area.
"It feels really exciting and empowering to be able to finally do this," said Prabhu. "Having had so many no's throughout the years. Finally, be able to run my own home restaurant and like, know that this is going to be a lasting trend that people see for generations to come."
For more information, visit the Foodnome website.