Smiling woman ices a bundt cake in her kitchen

Contra Costa Home-Based Restaurants Get Greenlit With New Permit Program

Smiling woman ices a bundt cake in her kitchen

Isabel Coba ices a cake she baked at home to sell. (Juan Coba for The CC Pulse / file)

By Aly Brown
Bay City News

Contra Costa County’s health department announced Monday the creation of a permit that will allow residents to sell food directly from their homes.

Called Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations, this new type of food permit now lets residents operate small-scale, home-based restaurants or provide delivery and takeout, as long as the business’s gross annual sales are less than $100,000. MEHKO permits also limit the holder to selling no more than 30 meals per day and 90 meals per week.

Kristian Lucas, Contra Costa Health environmental health director, said the permit program aims to lower barriers of entry and increase access into the restaurant industry for budding entrepreneurs.

“MEHKOs also can help address the issue of food scarcity in underserved areas of the county, supplement family incomes, and increase economic opportunities for everyone,” he continued.

CCH’s announcement follows the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors’ May decision to adopt an ordinance to authorize MEHKOs. This decision followed the lead of other jurisdictions with similar ordinances, such as the city of Berkeley, which runs its own health department separate from its county, and other Bay Area counties, including San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda and Solano.

“By providing this option, we ensure that people who sell food out of their homes do so in a safe manner that protects the health of our community,” said Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover.

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Lucas explained that MEHKO holders receive up to two scheduled inspections per permit year, which runs from March through February.

“During the first inspection, environmental health staff review their menu and operating procedures, educate on proper food safety and sanitation standards, and issue a permit if they meet California Health and Safety Code requirements,” he said.

The second inspection occurs later in the permit year after the operator has established their business to ensure the food is safe to consume and the business operators are adhering to proper food safety and sanitation standards, Lucas continued.

“It’s also a way for the public to know that a seller advertising on social media is complying with food safety regulations,” Lucas said.

All health inspection records for MEHKO permit holders will be available to the public at

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