Why NOW is the Right Time to Start a Home-Based Restaurant

If you have a passion for cooking and have ever thought about starting a culinary business, we have amazing news for you! Thanks to the California Homemade Food Act, you can start a home-based restaurant and make money doing what you love by selling meals to your neighbors, right from the comfort of your own home. Rather than investing significant amounts of time and money into opening a traditional restaurant, AB-626 is opening up a new category in the gig economy that allows anyone with a genuine love for cooking to start selling food on their own terms with minimal risk and startup capital. Needless to say, if you’ve been thinking about starting your own cooking business, the homemade food economy might just be the answer to your prayers! 

 

Now don’t get us wrong — starting a home-based restaurant requires time, investment, and hard work. Being a home-based food entrepreneur also provides flexibility and a much lower level of risk to get started, creating an evolutionary shift in the food industry that opens it up to so many people with big dreams of sharing their amazing food with the world. Thanks to tools like the HomeMade App, there are so many resources out there to guide you in the process every step along the way. 

 

If you’re thinking about starting a home-based restaurant, here are 5 reasons why there’s no better time than NOW to get started right away!

 

 

Freshly baked pie taken out of the oven by older women for her home-based cooking business

 

 Starting a Home-Based Kitchen is Still a New Market with Low Competition

 

California Assembly Bill 626, A.K.A. the Homemade Food Act, was signed into law on September 18, 2018 and went into effect on January 1, 2019. What does this mean for you? It means that joining the homemade food economy now would make you an early adopter in navigating this exciting new industry! It also means that you get first dibs on all of the tools, information, and resources like the HomeMade App that have been designed to guide home-based cooks in how to succeed. Plus, you have a competitive edge to test out the market, master it, and market your delicious food in your local community. Sounds like a win, win if you ask us, wouldn’t you agree?

 

 

Woman chopping up fresh vegetables on a cutting board

 

Opening a Home-Based Restaurant is a Low Risk Business Model

 

On average, opening a brick and mortar restaurant can cost upward of $375,500 (RestautantOwner.com). In comparison, the cost to get all of the certifications required to operate a home-based restaurant is less than $1,000.That’s a HUGE difference! By opening a microenterprise home kitchen, your home is your office — meaning that you do not have to invest in real estate space or pay for all of the expenses that come with it. Plus, if you have aspirations of opening up a restaurant in the future, a microenterprise home kitchen is a great stepping stone to help you hone your entrepreneurial skills without the six-figure price tag.

 

Although the initial cost of your microenterprise home kitchen will be far less than opening a traditional restaurant, it’s still important to invest in the success of your home cooking business. You’ll need to invest in cooking supplies, packaging materials, delivery expenses and a few extra helping hands, but once the dough starts rolling in from your sales, it will be well worth the investment!

 

Freshly baked goods prepared to go in the oven with eggs, flour, and roller for home-based cooking business

 

A Home Cooking Business Gives You the Flexibility to Work on Your Own Terms

 

Over the past few years the gig economy has been exploding, and for very good reasons. Who can resist the temptation of being able to clock-in and clock-out whenever they want while making money on their terms? Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent who is looking for ways to make money while you take care of your children, or someone who already has a career they love and wants to make a little extra cash on the side from their hobby, launching a home cooking business is an alternative in the gig economy that allows anyone to turn their cooking skills into profit. With the proper level of time management skills and prioritizing, your home-based cooking business can become a side hustle that you can be proud of!

 

White iphone showing homemade food app in front of fresh vegetables in home-based restaurant

 

Resources like the HomeMade App Make Starting Your Home-Based Restaurant Simple

 

All of the permits and certifications required to start a home cooking business may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it all alone! The introduction of the Homemade Food Act has created a high demand for tech startups that are specifically designed to help future home-based cooks like YOU succeed — and the HomeMade App is one of them! Not only do we walk you through every single step of getting your microenterprise home kitchen permit, but we provide resources to help you learn the tools of the trade including creating your menu and taking high quality photos of your meals. Plus, the HomeMade Food App is a social dining platform that connects you with local hungry customers while helping you manage your orders. HomeMade brings customers to you, and all you have to worry about is making delicious meals!

 

Starting Out as a Home-Based Cook Will Help You Hone Your Culinary Skills While Testing the Market

 

If you plan on opening your own traditional restaurant in the future, opening a home-based restaurant now is an amazing way to hone your culinary skills, test out the market, and cultivate your core customer base before making that big investment. Although your microenterprise home kitchen will be a home-based operation, it is still a business that will help you learn the ropes of entrepreneurship with real world experience. According to a study conducted by The Restaurant Brokers, 90% of independent restaurants close during their first year in business, so being able to test out your success in the industry before making a large investment is an amazing edge over fellow aspiring restaurateurs.

 

Ready to get rolling with your home-based restaurant today? Check out our ultimate guide to AB-626 Microenterprise home kitchen operations in Riverside County and let us help you get started today!

 

 

 

 

Sources: https://www.restaurantowner.com/public/Survey-How-Much-Does-it-Cost-to-Open-a-Restaurant.cfm

Here’s How California Assembly Bill 626 Will Impact the Gig Economy for Minority & Immigrant Women

For many of us, food is a shared experience that is exchanged between family, friends, and even our neighbors. From passing down recipes to convening over a signature family dish, it keeps traditions and culture alive across generations. For years, many people have used these same family recipes as a source of economic empowerment to generate extra income for their families by selling food to neighbors or even peddling meals on the street. Before the California Assembly Bill AB-626 was passed by Assembly member Eduardo Garcia in 2017, home based cooks who sold meals to their neighbors were technically breaking the law. Now, the passing of this law opens the doors of the home cook gig economy for minorities and creates opportunities for economic growth through entrepreneurship.

 

Most of the people who participated in the budding homemade food economy before 2017 were members of underserved communities — particularly minorities and immigrant women — who were looking for a way to use their talents to create economic opportunity and supplemental income for their families. However, many of these individuals were often left with threats of jail time, fines, and probation instead. Now, thanks to the Assembly bill (AB-626), it is now legal to create a Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation (MEHKO), A.K.A. the Homemade Food Operations Act, in Riverside County. This is a huge win for women, immigrants, and people of color who can now legally operate low-cost, legitimized home based cooking operations while having access to best-practices education for public health. 

 

Homemade traditional Indian dishes served in copper pots and stone bowls

Here Are Some of the Ways that the California Assembly Bill AB-626 Will Positively Impact the Home Cook Gig Economy for Minorities, Immigrants, and People of Color by Creating a More Inclusive Economy:

 

 AB-626 Creates New Economic Opportunities for Minority and Immigrant Women

 

According to a study conducted by the Migration Policy Institute, nearly 2 million college-educated immigrants and refugees in the U.S. are unemployed or working in low-skill jobs despite years of education and work experience. For immigrants who don’t have degrees or relevant working experience, the challenge to find a well-paid job is even higher. That’s why according to the C.O.O.K. Alliance, 84% of cooks in the informal food economy were women and 48% were of African, Hispanic or Multiracial descent before it was legalized. The legalization of MEHKO opens the doors of the gig economy for minorities by allowing underserved members of vulnerable communities to do what they love while leveraging their skills to create additional income for their families. 

 

Muslim woman cutting up ingredients to prepare a meal for her customers at her home-based cooking business

 

AB-626 Encourages Equal Opportunity for Entrepreneurship in the Food Industry

 

On average, opening a brick and mortar restaurant can cost upward of $375,500 (RestautantOwner.com). This high ticket investment makes it nearly impossible for immigrants and women of color with limited access to capital to open traditional culinary businesses. The legalization of the Homemade food economy lowers barriers in the industry, making it possible to open a small home based cooking business with low start-up costs. It also empowers home-based cooks to earn their own capital to eventually invest in their own food cart, food truck, or traditional brick and mortar business in the formal food economy.

 

AB-626 Grants Minority and Immigrant Home-Based Cooks Legal Protection

 

Before the California Assembly Bill 626 was introduced, preparing and selling food from a home kitchen was treated as a criminal act, and was punishable as a misdemeanor. Cottage food laws only permitted a very narrow group of “non-potentially hazardous foods,” limiting opportunities for growth in the home cook gig economy for minorities. Now that the AB-626 bill is in place, home-based cooks have access to best-practices education, safety guidelines, and the ability to obtain permits and certifications that make their business a legitimate, low-risk operation.

 

Home made cultural asian dishes including Chinese dumplings in a traditional bamboo steamer

 

AB-626 Creates Transparent Rules to Regulate the Home-Based Cooking Industry

 

Although home-based cooking operations have existed long before California Assembly Bill 626, there was no blueprint or regulations in place to control the industry. The legislation creates clear guidelines for operation that keep public health a priority while also creating specific regulations for micro kitchen operations in California.

 

According to the legislation, home kitchens to can make up to $50,000 in sales a year, and serve up to 60 individual meals a week. Food must be prepared, cooked, and served on the same day and picked up by the customer or delivered within a safe time period, and home kitchen operators are  required to obtain food manager training and certification. Also, no indirect sales are allowed—customers must pick up the food from the cook, or the cook must deliver it directly to the customers.

 

AB-626 Creates the Demand for Technology Resources that Will Make Running a MicroEnterprise Home Kitchen Operation Easier

 

Assembly bill 626 makes home-based cooking a legitimate career, making it possible for platforms like the HomeMade app to exist and support these food entrepreneurs in functionally operating their business and building their customer base. By creating demand for technical innovations in the home-based cooking industry, home cooks from underserved communities will gain access to affordable tools that help them scale their businesses, manage their orders in one convenient place, and stay informed about industry news and innovations.

 

Asian woman smiling and rolling some dough to prepare fresh bread her micro enterprise kitchen

 

AB-626 Makes Healthy, Homemade Food Options More Accessible to Vulnerable Communities

 

The legalization of MEHKOs is not only beneficial to home-based cooks, but it’s also beneficial to their communities. The home cook gig economy for minorities is a catalyst in the food industry which creates legitimate opportunities, and brings more income to underserved areas. By selling home cooked food to their neighbors and members of their community, they can play in role in improving their communities by creating easier access to healthy foods, particularly in food deserts with severely limited options.

 

Thanks to this legislation, California has become one of the first states in the US to take a substantial step towards building a more inclusive food system. In a few years, it will be fascinating to witness how MicroEnterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKOs) dynamically shift the landscape of the food economy at large.

 

 

 

Sources: https://www.restaurantowner.com/public/Survey-How-Much-Does-it-Cost-to-Open-a-Restaurant.cfm

https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-merit-immigration-brain-waste-20170326-story.html 

https://a56.asmdc.org/press-release/assemblymember-eduardo-garcia-introduces-bill-legalize-homemade-meal-sale

https://newfoodeconomy.org/california-homemade-food-operations-act-2018/ 

https://actnow.io/homecooks

 

The Complete Guide to Food Photography for Home-Based Chefs

Have you ever scrolled through your Instagram feed and immediately stopped at the sight of a mouth-watering image of food? Well, that’s exactly how you want people to feel when they see photos of your food on your HomeMade app menu! Good food photography speaks a thousand words, and in order to guarantee success for your home-based cooking business, you need to capture the attention of foodies with eye-catching imagery that makes them ready to select ‘add to cart’. Whether you’re a novice with an iphone or an expert with professional photography equipment, follow this complete guide to learn how to capture beautiful food selfies that’ll keep your HomeMade app customers coming back for more!

 

CheckPrepare Your Plate

How to professionally plate food for photography
Source: Serious Eats

 

When you’re selling food as a home-based chef, your food doesn’t only have to taste good; it has to look good too! Before you pull out your iPhone or professional camera, it’s a MUST that you neatly plate your food. Trust us; there’s no editing your way around this important step! 

 

Although your food will likely be served to customers in to-go containers, it’s never a bad idea to style your plate on nicer plateware for their big photo debut. Pull out your favorite dishware or pick up something special from a local store to create a stylish base for your tasty meal. 

 

WARNING: Every dish will photograph very differently. Dishes that naturally have plenty of color and texture give you a lot to work with, but dishes with minimal or duller colors don’t look as appetizing on camera. Spruce your dish up a bit by adding colorful herbs or garnishes such as cheese, parsley, or extra fruit that add some dimension and flare to your dish. 

 

Pro Tip: Don’t false advertise! Make sure that the serving sizes used in your photos are accurate to how much food people will actually receive in their order.

 

CheckCollect Food Photography Props 

Use Props to professionally style plate for food photography
Source: @FoodbyMaria/Instagram

 

Your food is looking good! Now it’s time to really up your game by getting creative with food photography props. Think about the vibe that you want to set for each dish: would you like a rustic, vintage aesthetic? Or maybe you prefer visuals that are clean and crisp? Regardless of your preference, you can find great affordable props at consignment stores or even bargain marts. If you really want to create a #repost worthy lifestyle shot, incorporate natural elements such as some of the fresh vegetables you used to prepare your dish, or add in some cooking equipment such a cutting board and knives to show that you really mean business.

 

You can even create a full table setting that really helps your future customers envision themselves chowing down on your food, or create a signature look for your brand with a fun backdrop that you can use in all of your future food photography for your profile.

 

Pro Trip: Be careful not to include too much color with your food photography props. If the colors are too distracting, they’ll take away for your dish rather than complimenting it.

 

CheckWork Your Angles

Finding the perfect angle for food photography
Source: Digital Photography

 

What are the best qualities of your camera-ready dish? Is it a sky high burger with plenty of tasty toppings, or a plate of paella filled with delicious varieties of seafood? It is served in a small dish or on a huge platter? These answers will help you figure out what parts of your dish you want to highlight, and what angle you’ll want to shoot from to get the best view. Once you’ve figured these details out,  position your camera accordingly.

 

For sandwiches and burgers, it’s typically better to shoot them from a side angle so that people can see its size and all of the tasty toppings inside. Soups and salads are commonly shot from directly above so that hungry customers can savor all of the flavors with a bird’s eye view. If you really want to make HomeMade app users hungry, close up shots of dishes are always a huge winner!

 

Pro Tip: If your dish contains a tasty filling, cut it open and let the filling ooze out to make your food look even more irresistible!

 

CheckFind Your Frames

Framing and composition for food photography
Source: A Sweet Pea Chef

 

Your dish is almost ready for it’s big on-camera debut! But before you press the shutter button on your smartphone or your professional camera, you have to give your photo some visual interest by making sure that the frame it just right. Framing is one of the most important lessons in food photography because it determines what elements of the photo naturally attract the eye. While your excellent plating and cool props compliment your dish, your framing will ensure that your food remains the star of the show.

 

The easiest way to figure out how to frame your shot is by using the ‘rule of thirds’: a photography technique that applies to the overall composition of a photograph and where the main subject lies within the shot. To follow the rule of thirds, simply imagine that a grid is placed over your photo. Your dish should be placed along these lines or at their intersections to guarantee that it’ll catch your customers’ eye. 

 

Pro Tip: Avoid posting photos that are too justified to the right or the left on your HomeMade profile to ensure that no important parts of your dish are cut out in your thumbnails.

 

CheckChase the Light

Professional lighting tips for food photography
Source: Two Loves Studio

 

Lighting equipment is useful, but nothing beats natural lighting if you have access to it. Shoot close to a window or even outside if possible to take advantage of incredible and free lighting that will showcase every flavor of your dish in HD. 

 

If you’re shooting indoors, grab some baking paper from your cabinet to diffuse the light by taping it to the glass. This will prevent the light from being too harsh and overexposing details in your photo. Play around with your angles to find just the right spot for your dish to catch the light! If you prefer to shoot outdoors, golden hour is the best hour. Invest in a reflector or create a makeshift bounce card out of white cardboard so that you can control where the light hits to capture your perfect shot. 

 

Pro Tip: Set up your dish and your props on a movable surface that allows you to move around until you find the right lighting.

 

CheckTake Your Photo

Camera Settings to use for food photography

 

It’s the big moment — time to take your photo! But you need a few tips first to make sure all of your hard work up to this point won’t be in vain. If you have a tripod, now’s the time to use it to ensure the camera doesn’t move around so your photos come out crisp and blur-free. If you don’t have a tripod, adjust the aperture settings on your professional camera to aperture priority (Av) mode to help  avoid blurry shots , or keep things simple by using a smart phone with automatic settings.

 

CheckEdit Your Photo to Perfection

how to edit photos of food
Source: Shopify

 

Yay! You’ve taken some great photos of dishes for your HomeMade app menu. But there’s always room for improvement! Edit your photos with Photoshop, Lightroom, or even Preview to take them from good to great. Here are some common problem areas for photos that can be fixed with editing. 

 

White Balance
This helps to balance the colors in your photos and get rid of blue or yellow hues from unattractive lighting. Using the white balance tool on your preferred editing software, click on a spot in your image that should be a neutral white or gray and adjust until they are the right color. You can also manually adjust the color balance using the temperature and hue sliders.

 

Contrast, Brightness, and Saturation
These settings are the key to really bringing out the very best out of your food photography. Slightly adjust these settings to restore dull colors or low contrast in your photo, but avoid over editing that can lead to blurriness or unflattering colors. 

If you’re not ready to manually edit your images, photo filters are your friend! Download VSCO or similar photo editing apps on your smartphone with preset filters that can add a subtle pop to your photos.

 

With these food photography techniques and some practice, you’ll be a food photography pro in no time! Please feel free to reach out to the HomeMade team if have any questions about food photography for beginners or useful resources to help you improve your skills. Drop us a line by clicking here.

 

How to Create the Perfect Menu for Your Home Based Kitchen Restaurant

Congratulations, you’re officially in business! You got your Food Safety Manager Certification, you received your permit to operate your microenterprise home kitchen, and now you’re ready to build your very own foodie tribe on the Homemade App. Let the hunger games begin by creating a unique menu of home cooked meals that’ll keep nearby customers coming back for more. Here’s a few steps to help you get started!

 

Micro Home Kitchen Business - Select Dishes

CheckSelect Your Go-To Dishes

Write down a list of your go-to meals that always get you major cred when you prepare them for your friends and family. Simplify that list even further by selecting your absolute favorite meals that are simple to make, and feature ingredients that are accessible year-round.

Pro Tip: For guaranteed success, start simple by focusing on signature home cooked meals that are tried and true.

 

CheckCreate a Cool Theme for Your Menu

Use your food to tell your story! Is your menu inspired by recipes that were passed down to you, distinct flavors of a cultural cuisine, or made completely with locally sourced ingredients? Find your “why” and use it to create a unique theme that shows what makes your cuisine so special. Not only will it help your menu stand out, but it will help future customers find exactly what they’re craving.

Pro Tip: Consider revamping your menu every few months with fresh new recipes and seasonal ingredients to keep your customers engaged.

 

Micro Home Kitchen Business - List Ingredients

CheckList Your Ingredients

List out all of the ingredients and portions needed for all of your dishes, and keep them in a recipe binder or DIY cookbook so that you’re prepared when business starts rolling in. This will also make it easy for you to create organized budgets for your trips to the grocery store.

Pro Tip: Organize your dishes by grouping them according to their main ingredient so that your grocery trips can be more efficient.

 

CheckMake Your Menu MEHKO Approved

Make your menu safe, accessible, and #allergyfree for all by removing any dishes with ingredients that are restricted by MEHKO regulations. Ingredients restricted by MEHKO include raw oysters, smoked or cured food, vacuum packed foods, pickled or preserved foods, ice cream or raw milk products, and CBD or THC.

 

Micro Home Kitchen Business - Set Pricing

CheckMake Sure that the Price is Right

Now that you know exactly what you plan to sell, it’s time to figure out exactly how much to sell it for! To determine how much you should charge for each meal, it’s important to know how much you plan to spend on ingredients so that you can define your margins and guarantee that you’ll make a profit. This is called your food cost percentage, and the industry average is  25-35%.

After that, find out the raw food cost of each menu item by adding up the total cost of ingredients for each dish. Once you have this information, calculate the price of each menu item with this equation: Price = Raw Food Cost of Item / Ideal Food Cost Percentage. Not good at math? Use a food cost calculator as your guide.

Pro Tip: Also consider food containers, cooking tools, and equipment when calculating your budget.

 

CheckMake Your Menu Pop

You figured out your menu and pricing, and now it’s time to create descriptive and engaging names for each dish. Make your menu easily searchable by including keywords that people are likely to search like ‘burger’ or ‘salad,’ and add adjectives like ‘delectable,’ or ‘refreshing,’ to make your cuisine stand out. Think about the inspiration, cultural origins, and ingredients behind each dish to create detail-oriented descriptions for your menu.

 

Micro Home Kitchen Business - Take Food Selfie

CheckTake Your Food Selfies

You’ve described how tasty your menu options are. Now it’s time to show how tasty they look with amazing photos! It’s great to have professional photography equipment but if you don’t, you can still capture mouth-watering photos with your smartphone, and a few simple tricks. Start by finding a simple background, such as a wooden surface or a neutral colored wall. Make sure that you are surrounded by natural light by taking photos outdoors or near a window.

Add some fun details by including props like cooking utensils, raw ingredients, and elements that speak to your personality. You can even add a human element by featuring a cameo of your hand in action. Once you’ve staged your food, find the perfect angle to capture all of the incredible details of your dish, then snap several photos and select the tastiest picture! To add extra flare to your photos, use editing apps like VSCO to make the colors in your dishes really pop.

 

Simple and ConvenientOrganize Your Menu

Make it easy for customers to find exactly what they’re looking for by organizing your dishes into sections. Divide your menu by meal type (breakfast, lunch, or dinner), by dietary restrictions such as vegan, gluten free and keto, or by price. Also let your customers know what your crowd favorites are by highlighting your best-sellers and weekly specials.

Your menu will be your storefront on the HomeMade App, so make it work in your favor by highlighting dishes that show what you’ve really got in the kitchen. By following these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a menu of #foodporn worthy dishes that local foodies will run to tell their friends about!

 

The HomeMade support team is here to help you succeed during any step of this process. Please feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions about how to create the perfect menu. Drop us a line by clicking here. Good luck and can’t wait to start cookin’ with you! 

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