San Mateo County sets plate for commercial home cooks

in A&E/Community/Food

Want to launch a food business from your home kitchen? In San Mateo County, that’s now possible.

On Aug. 3, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance authorizing permits for Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO) on a pilot basis. Residents interested in obtaining these kitchen permits can visit for more information on how to apply.

Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKOs) are resident-operated food facilities based out of their private home kitchens. Residents who complete the permit application and approval process can store, handle, prepare, and serve food to the public as allowed by State law (CA Assembly Bill No. 626) in the same manner as a restaurant, with some limitations including the volume of meal distribution, the amount of revenue receivable, and types of food that can and cannot be prepared.

San Mateo County’s two-year pilot program for MEHKO facilities dictates a seven-step process for permit applications, outlined as follows:

  • Residents must review a series of documents available here.
  • Residents must register for and attend a presentation (online or in-person).
  • Residents must then complete and submit a permit application (available on Aug. 15).
  • Residents must complete and submit a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Form (coming soon).
  • Residents must research additional requirements dictated by their city of residence.
  • Residents must submit the relevant permit fee (fees will be waived until 2023).
  • Finally, residents must sign up here for Environmental Health Services MEHKO updates.

Upcoming online presentations will be conducted on Aug. 10 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.; Aug. 18 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Aug. 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. In-person presentations are scheduled for Aug. 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and Aug. 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

MEHKOs are prohibited from serving or selling raw oysters, producing or selling raw milk, and manufacturing ice cream or dairy products. In addition, MEHKOs may not conduct processes that require a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan, serve alcohol (or food containing alcohol) without a proper license, resell food to other food facilities, display signage or other outdoor advertising, or employ more than one full-time employee (excluding family or household members). Visit the pages linked above for additional restrictions and requirements, or contact for more information.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved the Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations Ordinance, Pilot Program and Grant Program in July along with $238,000 in seed funding. Chefs who receive MEHKO permits will be eligible to apply for grants of up to $2,500.

“I am excited to see how the community responds to this project,” said Supervisor Don Horsley of San Mateo County, which is one of the few CA jurisdictions to authorize the MEHKO program. “I look forward to an incredibly array of these microenterprise home kitchens and hope to visit one myself for a delicious meal.”