MORENO VALLEY, Calif. – Vija Adams got a permit for her home restaurant, "Sunday Dinner," in February and things were a bit slow, but since the pandemic…
"I would say it’s definitely doubled or more, so it’s growing for sure," she said.
During this crisis, Adams says some diners are putting more trust in their neighbors to provide safe meals.
"In a restaurant, there’s different employees right. There are multiple employees and these employees are coming from multiple homes and who knows who’s in their household and who’s bringing what into their home as well," Adams said. "With me, there’s less risk. It’s just me, and I’m preparing these meals for my family as well."
Like restaurants, micro-home kitchens must have a permit and are inspected by Riverside County’s Environmental Health Department, but they are also limited to serving no more than 60 meals a week.
"I get a chance to meet them curbside and sometimes if I’m able, I have a driver. Since customers have been increasing, I’ve offered delivery, so I’ll do local delivery around town," Adams said.
As for serving total strangers…
"I’m pretty good with people. I’m not really the person for nerves, unless we’re on camera," she said, laughing during our Skype interview.
"We’re the first legal marketplace for home cooked food in the United States," said Isaac O'Leary, Vice President of Marketing for Foodnome, a website that connects hungry customers with home restaurants in their area.
Foodnome currently works with 35 of these home kitchens in Riverside County, and saw a 150% jump in the number of diners from March to April.
"We’ve had two or three home restaurants approved in the last couple weeks alone through Riverside County’s Department of Environmental Health, and we’re hoping that number picks up soon because we’ve been seeing a huge wave of interest as people have been seeking new employment," O'Leary said.
He believes this could become another source of income for line cooks who have been laid off or others who dream of trying out their own recipes and culinary creations.
"You make your own menu. You have full creative control over when you serve, what you serve. You run your business entirely on your own," O'Leary said.
Adams says some of her favorite guests are actually picky eaters.
"People who don’t eat this or they don’t eat that and they try my food and all of a sudden they’re like, 'I can only eat this because of you, or 'I can only eat this when you cook it.' I love that. That’s like the best feeling in the world."
It's a feeling so rewarding…she can almost taste it.
"I’ve always wanted to work from home. I’ve always wanted to just have my own empire and this is just the beginning, so I’m super excited," Adams said.