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Homeroom Mac + Cheese in Oakland

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Some of the best restaurants begin with the simplest of dreams and menus, wouldn’t you agree? Such is the case for Homeroom Mac + Cheese in Oakland, CA.

Founded by a former lawyer-turned-restaurateur, Homeroom is the women-owned, schoolhouse-themed macaroni and cheese restaurant you never knew you needed in your life. Every meal begins with the original cheesy family recipe, then adds in delicious surprises, like goat cheese, fresh crab, artichoke hearts, and of course, crispy BACON. Oh, and don’t forget the breadcrumbs or potato chips baked on top, for extra texture.

Committed to being a warm, friendly place where people can enjoy creamy comfort food together, the owner tells this origin story:

[We] named the restaurant Homeroom, a nod to the class in school that served no purpose other than connecting with friends and classmates. Much of the restaurant was built by hand with a funky schoolhouse theme, including tables made from bleachers from a local high school. To create community beyond friends and family, Homeroom launched a Kickstarter campaign, and was the first restaurant to successfully raise money that way. (homeroom510.com)

Yes, the portions are humongous, so don’t be afraid to ask for a to-go container. And yes, all the sides, salads and desserts are homemade, including their famous giant Oreo. They even have non-dairy, non-meat options for our vegan friends, like Vegan Mac with tofu or soyrizo, or the super-simple Naked Mac, tossed with olive oil and herbs, ready for lots of veggie add-ins. Everyone is welcome in the warm, creamy arms of Homeroom.

And what will you do to satisfy those late-night cravings? Order Homeroom to go! The incredibly smart owners knew how popular the restaurant is with its simple, comfort food menu, so to cut down on hordes of people waiting on the sidewalk for take-out orders, they established a separate Homeroom To Go shop just a few blocks again, brilliantly moving the hungry late-night munchie crowd away from the tiny dine-in location. Along with local delivery and special event catering, these folks thought of everything! Yep, that means piping hot mac and cheese, without leaving your couch.

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Bummed that you don’t live close enough to visit Homeroom in person? Good news! They sell a mac + cheese cookbook to show you how to make the creamy comfort food at home. Buy it here.

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This tasty concoction started with 7-year-aged sharp white cheddar cheese, then added in broccoli, chicken, and peas, complete with a side order of roasted bacon Brussels sprouts (pictured here) or one giant buttermilk biscuit for sharing, smeared with whipped honey butter (not pictured here, because we ate it too fast).

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Homemade Giant Oreo photo courtesy of homeroom510.com

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That’s a chalkboard, ya’ll! Can’t have a school-themed restaurant without one. Before you order, remember to check the board for the limited-edition mac of the month flavor and seasonal side options.

There won’t be a test after the meal, we promise, but the homework is to try and finish off the ample leftovers you’re guaranteed to leave with!

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The cozy community tables encourage making new friends. Because there is one thing we can all agree on – we love mac and cheese!

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Pictured above: Smoky Bacon Mac with smoked cheddar, jack cheese, paprika, and lots of bacon, with broccoli and chicken added in.

Pictured above that: Jalapeno Popper Mac with sharp cheddar, cream cheese, hot peppers, and crispy breadcrumbs baked on top, with chorizo sausage added in.

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A is for apple, B is for beer, C is for cheese!

Sit at the bar to feel right in the center of the action.

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A seasonal side dish of spicy elotes (Mexican street corn)

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Photo courtesy of the Go Together Leadership website.

Beyond the incredible carbs Homeroom is famous for, you’ll be happy to hear that the ladies and gents who work there truly have a heart for their employees and community, with business sense to spare. Their public list of company values are “egalitarian, inclusive, empowering, and participatory,” to name a few.

What does that mean day-to-day? Promoting employees from within, employing more women and people of color, having weekly all-staff meetings to openly discuss company finances, and enforcing a unique anti-harassment policy that has received national recognition.

Owner Erin Wade created the anti-harassment color-coded system shown above, in which different types of customer behavior are categorized as yellow, orange, or red. Yellow refers to a creepy vibe or unsavory look. Orange means comments with sexual undertones, such as certain compliments on a worker’s appearance. Red signals overtly sexual comments or touching, or repeated incidents in the orange category after being told the comments were unwelcome.

When a staff member has a harassment problem, they report the color — “I have an orange at table five” — and the manager is required to take a specific action. If red is reported, the customer is ejected from the restaurant. Orange means the manager takes over the table. With a yellow, the manager must take over the table if the staff member chooses. In all cases, the manager’s response is automatic, no questions asked.

In the years since implementation, customer harassment has ceased to be a problem. Reds are nearly nonexistent, as most sketchy customers seem to be derailed at yellow or orange. We found that most customers test the waters before escalating and that women have a canny sixth sense for unwanted attention. When reds do occur, our employees are empowered to act decisively.

The color system is elegant because it prevents women from having to relive damaging stories and relieves managers of having to make difficult judgment calls about situations that might not seem threatening based on their own experiences. The system acknowledges the differences in the ways men and women experience the world, while creating a safe workplace. (washingtonpost.com)

Read the full article here. You go, girls!

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