Michelin-starred $230 omakase dining experience canceled at iconic Hillsborough 'Flintstone House'

Stephanie Sierra Image
Wednesday, July 10, 2024
Michelin omakase-dining canceled at Hillsborough 'Flintstone House'
The Michelin-starred Omakase dining experience being offered at the iconic "Flintstone House" will be canceled after concerns about code violations.

HILLSBOROUGH, Calif. (KGO) -- The Michelin-starred omakase dining experience being offered at the iconic "Flintstone House" will be canceled with full refunds to all previously booked reservations, after the town of Hillsborough raised concerns about code violations.

According to a letter from the city's code enforcement division, the property is in a single-family residential zone and restaurants and other commercial uses are not permitted, even on a temporary basis.

"After some looking into... it appears to be outside of our zoning ordinance," said Doug Davis, Hillsborough City Manager.

Davis says code enforcement learned about the dining event on July 2 and sent the letter on July 5.

"Was there any communication from the Fang family about pursuing a catering business in the Flintstone home?," ABC7's Stephanie Sierra asked.

"I did not receive any pre-communication on it... we tried to send them a letter to get ahead of this because they're investing a lot of resources to get this on. We want to make sure we give them a fair chance to see the town's point of view," Davis said.

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On the Peninsula, the famed "Flintstone House" in Hillsborough is opening to the public for the first time.

The business venture was created by Sean Fang, owner of Stoneage Omakase and grandson of Flintstone property owner, Florence Fang.

After the I-Team contacted Sean Fang Monday night, Stoneage Omakase made this post on Instagram saying, "We would like to inform our valued clients and supporters that due to concerns raised by the city of Hillsborough, we have temporarily paused our catering operations at this location."

Fang was unavailable for an on-camera interview, but texted Sierra, "We think Hillsborough is wrong, but we respect them and don't want to fight with them. Therefore, we are refunding reservations and are looking for other venues. There will be more to come soon."

"We've certainly seen catering events and those are fine in town. We have many private events that are catered," Davis said. "But this is the first time I've seen what looks to be an attempt to open up a restaurant within the town."

Fang told the I-Team, "Hillsborough got it wrong; we aren't a restaurant... we are a catering company specializing in 'homakase' - bringing Michelin-starred chefs to create bespoke omakase experiences in private homes, not a restaurant. Unfortunately, we have been incorrectly classified as a restaurant, which has led to this misunderstanding."

"Businesses in general in Hillsborough are not allowed to run a commercial operation out of a home," Davis said.

An apparent code violation and apparent health violation.

For restaurants to serve food to the public, a food facility permit is required by the county to ensure the location follows health and safety regulations. The San Mateo County Health Dept. told the I-Team the operators of the Flintstone house have not applied for one.

We've since learned the county's Environmental Health Services will assess the Stoneage Omakase business model to determine what the operators can do or will need to do in order to obtain a health permit.

Davis says catering companies do often operate out of homes for charitable events, but this business venture did not indicate there was any purpose for that, nor was there a formal charitable event application turned into the town.

While it's unclear what the immediate next step will be, both parties are willing to collaborate. Fang told ABC7, "We look forward to working with the city to resolve this issue and resume offering our unique culinary experiences to our clients."

"I welcome their ideas, I think we're pretty open to any conversations that the family or the people putting this on want to have," Davis said. "I mean our intent isn't to keep people from doing things on their private property, it's just to make sure that everybody is enjoying their own private property without infringing on other people."

Stoneage Omakase began taking dinner reservations starting this Friday July 12. Fang says all his reservations were booked through the end of the month.

Davis says if there's some creative ways to make this work, the city along with the legal and code enforcement teams look forward to hearing from the Flintstone owners.

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