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Big Platter News! Samplers and Thanksgiving Pre-Orders

We get lots of platter orders around Thanksgiving. LOTS!

It makes sense, right? Who doesn’t want creamy, comforting, cheesy mac and cheese with a plump, juicy turkey? If you’re thinking of ordering a platter for Thanksgiving, do it before November 18th and we’ll throw in one of our super useful homeroom tote bags free with your order. Pick up your platters and your totes on Wednesday the 26th or anytime before.

platter classic

Don’t forget about your pies too! Pre-order a whole peanut butter pie. Or, order a vegan/gluten-free pie from Triple Heart Bakery (which is where we get our vegan/gluten-free pies.)

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But even if you’re not ordering for Thanksgiving, we have some pretty exciting platter news. We now have the one thing that just about all of you have been asking about for the last 3 1/2 years – Sampler Platters! They’re only available for take-out, and you can order them online whenever you want. We have four of them, in some pretty tasty combinations, and they’re all $35:

The Honor Roll: Our best-selling macs in one awesome platter
Gilroy Garlic, Smokey Bacon and Classic Mac

Veggie Sampler:
Mac the goat, Vermont Cheddar, Macximus

Meat Sampler:
Gilroy with grilled chicken, Trailer Mac, Smokey Bacon

Spicy Sampler:
Jalapeño Popper, Sriracha Mac, Mexican Mac (available with chorizo or soyizo)

Since we opened Homeroom almost 4 years ago, a sampler platter has been our most requested addition to the menu. And now that we finally opened a bigger kitchen down the block from the restaurant, we’re finally able to do it.

Speaking of the bigger kitchen, Homeroom To Go is almost ready! Pretty soon, you’ll be picking up all of your take-out orders at 40th and Webster, down the block from the restaurant. While you’re there, you can pick up other tasty treats like jarred versions of our salad dressings, beer and wine, t-shirts, and gift packs for the holidays. We’re aiming for the end of November – but be sure to follow us on facebook for updates.

New Space Map

That’s all for now! Please leave a comment below if you have questions about pre-orders or sampler platters.

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Pesto Mac is back! And so are other summer treats…

All year long people ask for the pesto mac, probably more than any other special we run. So finally, after making you wait an entire year, the pesto mac is back. And this year it’s better than ever before. We make a homemade pesto with basil, garlic, walnuts, pecorino, lemon juice and olive oil, and mix it with creamy Vermont white cheddar and sweet cherry tomatoes. If you prefer our old school pesto, just ask for it without bechamel and you’ll get an authentic summery pesto dish. Also on our summer menu is a colorful heirloom tomato salad with basil and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.

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Expansion, Reservations, and More!

Recently we have been fielding a number of questions about what’s going on with all the construction down the street from Homeroom.  “I hear you are moving your restaurant?” is the most common one (No!  We are not—is the answer).  So we thought it would make sense to fill you in on what we are up to, and hopefully answer all those burning questions that have been floating around.

The entrance to Homeroom To-Go, under construction!

The entrance to Homeroom To-Go, under construction!

Q. I hear you are moving your restaurant down the street?

Nope—we are just expanding a block away!  In a perfect world, we would have expanded adjacent to Homeroom instead of down the street, but our next door neighbor didn’t want to move and frankly, her space wouldn’t have been big enough for what we wanted to do.  By moving down the street, we are tripling our size and will be able to do all sorts of things that we’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the space to make happen.

Q.   If you are not moving your restaurant, what are you doing?

The original Homeroom will stay put, but it will just be for serving dine-in customers.  The new Homeroom will be dedicated to three things: take-out, catering, and special events.  Homeroom To-Go will be where all of our take-out is moving to.  Take-out customers won’t have to jostle through crowds at the restaurant to order food anymore, and will also be able to pick up all sorts of other great stuff to go, like our homemade dressings, whole pies, and beer or wine to bring home with their mac.  We already do a lot of catering and events (think office lunches and Outside Lands), so our new space will have a big kitchen to accommodate a bunch of events that currently we have to turn down because of a lack of space (next year we’re coming to you SF Street Food Festival!).  Lastly, we will have an event space where larger parties will be able to make a reservation for special events like birthday parties, graduations, and all the stuff you currently have to wait in line for a long time to do at Homeroom.  We will also use the event space for cool events we’ve always wanted to do more of like beer and mac pairings, or nights with cheesemakers, and all sorts of other fun classes and community events.

Q.  Will all this new stuff make Homeroom easier to get into?

Yes!  It became clear to us about a year ago that the wait to get into Homeroom was becoming insanely long many nights of the week, getting busier by the day, and that we really needed more space.  We are confident that by allowing big parties to make reservations at our special event space and by moving take-out customers down the street, that the wait for a table at the restaurant will become shorter and much more pleasant.

Q.  If you are going to let large parties make reservations at the new Homeroom event space down the street, will you let smaller parties make reservations at the original Homeroom?

Because we are still such a small restaurant and try to keep our prices affordable, we will still not take reservations at the original Homeroom and will continue to be first-come, first-served.  However, large parties are what generally cause longer wait-times at the restaurant right now, so by moving them elsewhere we are pretty sure that the average wait time for a table at the original Homeroom will be much less daunting.

Q.  Why did you decide to expand down the street instead of opening a new Homeroom somewhere else?

We really feel that Homeroom has so much potential for expansion in it’s current location that to start opening up Homerooms elsewhere right now would really take our eye off the ball from fulfilling Homeroom’s full potential here in Oakland.  When we originally envisioned Homeroom, it was not only a great restaurant, but would offer a take-out experience you actually look forward to, a place to share special events in customer’s lives, as well as a center for the community through classes and events that relate to mac and cheese.  We try our best to do this all at Homeroom right now, but we don’t have the space to accomplish it all—so we really want to make this Homeroom everything we know it can be before we set our sights elsewhere.

Q.  Will you ever open Homeroom in other places?

We have spent a lot of time in the recent year soul-searching about the best way to grow the restaurant that we love so much.  We have met with some really inspirational business leaders (thank you Ari Weinzweig of Zingermans, Neil Grimmer of Plum, and James Freeman of Blue Bottle!), to understand more about how they have grown their special food businesses, and how to expand something really special without losing what makes it unique.  We are confident that Homeroom will one day expand beyond Oakland, but before that can happen we really want to focus on making our original location the best it can possibly be so that it can be a model for our future growth.  We also want to keep developing all the managerial talent that we have so that we have leaders ready to grow with us without compromising the original Homeroom experience.  These things take time, and though we are lucky enough to be approached all the time by investors, we know that slow and steady wins the race if the things you care most about most is the quality of your food, super-friendly service, and trying to be the best part of the day for every person that walks in the door.

 Q.  When are your babies due?  And how are you doing this all while pregnant?

We have been getting this question a lot lately too since we are both pregnant and have rather huge bellies.  Allison is due with her second son in August, and Erin with her first son (she already has a daughter) in September.  As to how we do it all—frankly, it’s not that hard and the beauty of owning your own business is that you have a lot more control of your schedule than when you work for someone else.  The last time we were both pregnant we completed our cookbook– and we found that whether with writing a cookbook then or overseeing a business expansion now, the deadline of having kids on the way actually helped us because it caused us to be even more efficient with our time and actually get things done on a faster time-table than would happen otherwise.  And luckily, when you love what you do, things like morning sickness or swollen feet don’t get in the way (although admittedly, they are annoying).

Erin (left), Allison (right) and babies-to-be (in bellies).

Erin (left), Allison (right) and babies-to-be (in bellies).

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