Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO)

MEHKO Update:

On March 14th, 2023, the MEHKO’s ordinance and fees were unanimously approved by the County’s Board of Supervisors. DEH is now accepting applications and issuing permits.

Application and Documents:

REVISED: Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation Application

NEW:  What are the Differences?  CFO and MEHKO

Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation FAQs

Completed application packets may be submitted by mail, in person at the DEH office, or emailed to [email protected]. Once received, an application fee of $446.00* must be paid prior to the start of the review process. The application review may take up to 20 business days. During the review period, you will be contacted by the Department via email or phone to discuss your application and seek any needed clarification and to also schedule an onsite kitchen evaluation.  The review process may be delayed if all required documents and information are not received.  A completed application packet consists of the four documents listed above.  1- The Checklist to Apply for a MEHKO; 2 – The MEHKO Operation Application; 3 – MEHKO SOP; 4 – MEHKO Self Certification Checklist.   Once the application is reviewed, an onsite evaluation will be conducted to ensure the proposed MEHKO complies with all requirements. Once approved, the MEHKO Annual Permit fee of $652.00* must be paid to receive your operating permit. A routine inspection will be scheduled at a later date.  

*As a result of the recent California Department of Public Health (CDPH) MEHKO Grant awarded to the Department of Environmental Health (DEH), we are pleased to announce that application and permit fees will be waived through March 14th, 2025. Consequently, no fees will be required during this period. Furthermore, any permits issued prior to March 14th, 2024, permit fee will automatically be waived for an additional year.


Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO) - Enabling Legislation

On January 1, 2019, California Assembly Bill 626 (AB 626) went into effect and MEHKO was established as a new type of retail food facility that allows an individual to operate a restaurant in their private residence.

In October 2019, California Assembly Bill 377 (AB 377) was chaptered to make minor changes to AB 626 and provide regulatory clarity. Under AB 377, the law gives each county full discretion within their jurisdiction to authorize the MEHKOs program.

In September 2022, California Senate Bill 972 (SB 972) established “Compact Mobile Food Operations” to promote economic inclusion while modernizing the California Retail Food Code. The legislation changes improve accessibility for sidewalk food vendors looking to obtain a permit. Additionally, SB972 allows for the expansion of a MEHKO to work in conjunction with up to two CMFOs. For more information on Compact Mobile Food Operations please visit SB-972 California Retail Food Code.

On July 21, 2023, California Assembly Bill 1325 (AB 1325) was signed into law and immediately went into effect. AB 1325 allows a MEHKO to prepare no more than 90 meals per week and increased the verifiable gross annual sales to $100,000 (adjusted annual for inflation).  It also defines a “meal” to mean the amount or quantity of food that is intended to be consumed by one customer in one sitting. A meal may include one or more of any of the following:

(1) A main dish.

(2) Appetizers.

(3) Side dishes.

(4) Beverages.

(5) Baked goods.

(6) Desserts.

About DEH’s MEHKO Exploratory Process

On May 3, 2022, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the exploratory process for adopting an ordinance that permits MEHKOs throughout the County. The proposed 3-year temporary program will authorize community members to prepare, cook, and sell food from their private home kitchen.

On August 30, 2022, DEH made a request to the Board of Supervisors and was approved for additional funding to support the MEHKO program implementation. 

In October 2022, DEH began outreach to the stakeholders and community members, and partnering agencies from the 15 cities and County Planning Department.  

In December 2022, additional meetings with community and partnering agencies took place.

On January 11, 2023, an informational presentation to the Santa Clara County Cities Managers’ Association took place.

In February 2023, multiple meetings took place between DEH and community partners for feedback on developing documents.

On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, the MEHKO’s ordinance was introduced for its first “reading” to the County’s Board of Supervisors. The Department of Environmental Health will make a presentation at the “second” reading of the ordinance which will occur on March 14, 2023.

For more information: MEHKO Informational Slideshow

Translations for MEHKO Informational Slideshow are listed below:

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There will be opportunities to provide feedback regarding the MEHKO program process during outreach events. Please be sure to check this website frequently for information updates.

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