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A Note From Erin+Allison on our 5-Year Anniversary

Erin and Allison on opening day, five whole years ago!

Erin and Allison on opening day, five whole years ago!

Five years ago today Homeroom opened its doors for the first time to a long line of hungry customers that has never let up since.  We (Erin and Allison—the co-founders), had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into, and the past five years has been a more exciting, fulfilling, and downright crazy journey than we had ever imagined.

When we set out to open Homeroom we did so because we wanted to create a place that would be as special to other people as it was to us.  A place that the community would look forward to coming in for a meal or celebration, and a place that staff would actually look forward to coming in to work each day.  If you asked us what we are most proud of five years in, it is seeing that dream come to life in amazing ways we had never anticipated.

Our dream came to life when a high school student asked us to spell out the word “prom?” in peas on his classic mac when he brought his crush in for lunch (she said yes).  It came to life when new parents got a surprise Homeroom onesie and signed card from our staff along with their order to welcome their baby into the world.  It came to life when our food is the last meal a sick patient requested when they were in the hospital, or when their family told us how happy it made them for the first time in a long time.  It comes to life every day that our walls are filled with the people that bring meaning and joy into what we do.

But there is also the behind the scenes world that we don’t talk about as much as we probably should.  Our mission is to be the best part of people’s day for both customers and staff.  We hope that you as our guests feel it every time you enter Homeroom, but honestly, we as owners spend the brunt of our time trying to ensure that the folks that work with us are having just as great a time as you are every time they are at Homeroom.

Having never really found meaning in jobs that we as co-founders had previously held, we are proud to have built a collaborative, employee-driven culture that is a refreshing departure from the way most restaurants are run.  Our management meetings are open for all staff to be paid to attend and give input regardless of what they do or how long they have been with us.  We are open-book, which means that we share our financials with staff at those meetings every week to let everyone know how we are doing and how they can contribute to making Homeroom even better.  We ask staff to fill out forms literally every single shift letting us know the ways we can improve as a company, as well as the experiences that were the best part of their day at work—and we do our best to act on those suggestions to create meaningful change driven by the people we work with.  We are not perfect, but are getting better with each passing year, and are proud to have grown our amazing team from 14 when we opened (some of whom are still with us!) to 85 today.

And five years later, they still really love mac+cheese.

And five years later, they still really love mac+cheese.

As we hit this huge milestone we want to take a moment to thank our community, our guests, our staff, our purveyors, and our families for all their support over the past five years in making our dream come to life.  Our success is a direct reflection of the love and dedication of our entire community—thank you for being a part of the Homeroom family.  We look forward to many more wonderful years to come.

-Erin and Allison, Homeroom co-owners

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the Homeroom Holiday Gift Guide

We had a great Thanksgiving this year—we know we’re sure thankful for the almost 200 of you ordered platters for the big day!—but now we’re chugging ahead full-steam towards the holiday season. Our staff put up some lovely decorations at both locations, and we’re excited to present for you here, for the first time ever, the

Homeroom Holiday Gift Guide!


That’s right. We’ve put together eight gift packs, all with carefully curated contents, for just about everyone you know. Got a friend who drags you to both the Jack London and Temescal Farmer’s Markets every Sunday, rain or shine? Check. Is your dad totally obsessed with Oakland? Yep, got it. We’ll have these gifts wrapped and ready at Homeroom To-Go starting this week, and they’ll be available through New Year’s. Come in, eat mac+cheese, and leave with perfect presents for everyone on your list…that’s our idea of multitasking.

Keep scrolling for pictures and details, and don’t forget to share this post, as a subtle hint to your fellow gift-giving friends and family. After all, nothing’s better than ho-ho-homeroom for the holidays!


For Everyone On Your List ($30)

for everyone on your list

This first one’s perfect for just about everyone on your list: college student, grandma, next-door neighbor—anyone who’s been good this year! It includes a signed copy of the Homeroom Mac+Cheese Cookbook and a $15 Homeroom giftcard; they can find their favorite mac at the restaurant, and then re-create it at home!

For Man and His Best Friend* ($35)

for man and his best friend

We’ve all got that buddy who totes their pup around anywhere they go, so you might as well give them what they’ve always wanted: matching teesBoth are 100% cotton, made in LA and hand-screened right here in Oakland! Humans get white shirts with green sleeves; Fido gets sleek black-and-white.
*Or woman, and hers!

For the Foodie Who Hates Being Called A Foodie ($27/$30)

for the foodie who hates being called a foodie

Up their kitchen game with a signed Homeroom Mac+Cheese Cookbook, filled with recipes for everyone’s favorite mac+cheese. We’ve paired it with a bottle of wine or beer: choose from the Perfum Muscat, Honoro Vera Grenache, or Buzzerkeley Sparkling Ale—all huge crowd-pleasers, and well-loved by our staff and guests alike.

For the Friend Who Douses Everything In Tapatío ($23)

for the friend who douses everything in tapatío

Upgrade their pantry with two of our best-loved hot sauces: Punch Drunk, made with cocoa and ghost chilies, and cult fave Secret Aardvark. We’ll include a $10 gift cardfor the mac that they’ll drench in their new favorite condiment.

For the Fashionista ($28)

for the fashionista

Impress the stylish ones on your list with the hippest gift there is: a hand-screened red-sleeved baseball tee and matching canvas toteBonus points if they’re eco-conscious: the shirts are sewn and hand-screened right here in CA, and the totes are 100% natural cotton. 

For the Hometown Hero ($50)

for the hometown hero

Two best-sellers by four Oakland authors! Homeroom’s Mac+Cheese Cookbook (a signed copy, of course!) will make them a mac+cheese expert; This Is Oakland will boost them from just plain knowledgeable up to pro status. Plus, they’re lovely coffee-table books—great for showing off how much they love their city.

For The New Parents ($40)

for the new parents

You’re covering all your bases here: a tiny tee for their tot, a $10 giftcard for a meal they won’t have to cook or clean up after, and a bottle of our easy-drinking, best-selling Poizin ZinfandelBecause, well, parenting is hard.

For the Sunday-Morning-Farmer’s-Market-Goer ($25)

for the Sunday-morning-farmer's-market-goer

They can start the day off right with a locally-roasted iced coffee in a cheerful red mug, and haul their locally-grown veggies home in a sturdy canvas toteThis gift’s got a 16oz bottle of Jittery John’s coffee concentratethey roast and brew next door in Berkeley, and our staff go crazy for their delicious iced coffee!

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