The sounds of laughter and conversation from Berkeley residents fill the air, Collin Doran, owner of Homemade Cafe, reminisced as the restaurant prepares to reopen July 6.
A city resident, Doran had grown up down the street from Homemade Cafe. Later, he would go on to work for, and purchase, the neighborhood eatery.
The cafe, known for its homemade and locally sourced goods, closed nearly three months ago due to repairs. The cafe is scheduled to fully reopen with a few changes, including a new “hospitality-included” business model and a dinner menu.
“It’s super important for me to welcome every customer that walks in the door — no matter who they are or what they look like — as a member of our own family,” Doran said.
Homemade Cafe will include a dinner service beginning July 9, according to Doran. New items will also be added to the menu. Some will be previous specials and others, including the fried chicken and waffles, will be new creations.
Doran said he is excited to see how the customers will respond to the new dishes.
A food service employee previously, Doran said he values giving his staff a livable wage. During the pandemic, Homemade Cafe was open for takeout and delivery, and throughout the temporary closing, Doran continued to pay his employees.
Following the reopening, Homemade Cafe will begin including gratuity in the bill. Instead of raising prices, Doran is implementing a 15% gratuity fee for in-house dining and 10% for takeout, as well as a living wage fee.
This will allow the tip to be split evenly among the cooks in the back and the staff in the front, Doran noted. It will also increase the predictability of their wages.
“(The pandemic) made more clear and focused the importance of making sure my employees get a living wage and that we continue to try to keep prices reasonable,” Doran said.
According to Doran, he offered the 10 employees that continued working during the pandemic the option of buying 5% shares of the restaurant. He said he plans to develop a structure that will offer this to more employees in the future.
When the pandemic initially hit, Doran noted that he did not know if he could stay open. He said it was a struggle, but the neighborhood’s support helped as some would order takeout every day just to help out the business.
Doran said he is confident in the longevity of the restaurant and that business will return.
“I really enjoy the interpersonal interactions with the neighborhood people,” Doran said. “It has a diverse clientele (with) everything from college kids to families to retired people — all the cross section of Berkeley life.”