My Home: In the midst of a pandemic, a restaurateur rebuilds her career and life in Oakland


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Sequoia Del Hoyo is leaving the beloved restaurant she helped open to launch a Mediterranean-inspired meal delivery service from the kitchen of her new home.

Opening a restaurant was a lifelong dream for Sequoia Del Hoyo, a resident of Oakland, California. When other children were playing at home, she would play in the restaurant. She took every opportunity to set a table, hand-pick flowers from the garden to display them next to her mother’s floral tea set.

Sequoia Del Hoyo organizes her space the same way she sets a table, in cream and black tones to allow people, aromas and sounds to “become the color”. When preparing her dishes, she opts for crockery that is crisp white or matte black “so that the colors of the food really have a chance to shine on their own without getting confused in the context. “, she says.

In her twenties, Sequoia loved to greet her friends, play music all night long and top it off with a big meal at the end. Food was, in fact, his language of love. Unsurprisingly, when she met her ex-husband, who also dreamed of being a restaurateur, it all seemed “very meant to be,” she said. “And we were a great team.”

“I love my entrance table that my partner, Jason Tanaka, made for me,” says Sequoia. “He is an arborist and himself planed the wood of a tree that he cut.

It took the couple three years to find the perfect place for a joint venture: a small art deco restaurant in the Laurel District of East Oakland. In 2015, Sequoia Diner opened its doors, riding a small wave of new trendy openings in the neighborhood. It quickly gained traction as a hip, community-driven brunch spot with freshly baked goods, strong coffee, and earthy dishes like red flannel hash. Queues formed quickly on weekends, and the restaurant put Laurel on the map in a way other institutions didn’t.

The couple made small, but impactful changes, like painting the walls and removing cabinet doors to create open shelves for Sequoia’s dinnerware collection.

“When we opened the restaurant, we weren’t living in the neighborhood yet,” Sequoia explains, “so we asked what people wanted and were listening to. We did what we could to give back to the neighborhood and serve its people – not just take up space for other people to come and visit. This is an important differentiation. ”

The record player, installed in the dining room, provides a musical backdrop for meals, brainstorming sessions or conversations with his partner and son.

The Bay Area native first moved to Oakland in 2004, when she was 20. Sequoia calls her relationship with the city a love story: “Like most cities, Oakland has gone through a lot of changes over the past two decades. But what I have found to be true is that the thing is. The most important thing you can do to respect your city, to be in community with its inhabitants. To get involved. Talk to your neighbors. Take care of each other. Take care of your soil.

“In the living room, my centerpiece is the Aosta Black Arch mirror from Crate and Barrel,” Sequoia explains. “It not only makes the room appear larger, but it almost looks like a portal!” She bought the second-hand Piazza sofa from CB2. “Because we are a family who love to cram on the sofa, it was a must. I love that most of the sofa is washable.”

Then the pandemic struck. For Sequoia, as for many, it was a time of tumultuous change, including a divorce, a move and her eventual departure from the restaurant.

The restaurant had started offering a take-out-only menu, but Sequoia discovered that customers were asking for healthy, ready-to-eat meals delivered to their homes. “People would contact me on Instagram, asking for recipes for dishes I made for myself and for my family,” she recalls. That’s when she branched off and started Tarocco, a Mediterranean-inspired meal delivery service.

Moving into this apartment in Oakland’s Grand Lake neighborhood meant starting over. Sequoia started out by building the basics: large, one-of-a-kind pieces that she saved up or found on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

“I identify strongly with my Catalan heritage and tend to have a very Mediterranean diet,” Sequoia explains. “I’m celiac too, so Tarocco was both forward-thinking Mediterranean and gluten-free by design.” Today, she is working on building a team and on the company’s transition from a “secondary activity to a full-fledged activity”.

The layered neutrals allow the apartment to feel airy and spacious, while also creating a warm and cozy ambience.

For almost a year now, Sequoia has moved into a charming 1,000 square foot one-bedroom apartment in the Grand Lake neighborhood, where she lives with her partner, Jason Tanaka. “Between my Catalan heritage and my partner’s Japanese heritage, we settled into a really sweet balance of Mediterranean wabi-sabi,” she says. The house itself feels “European in the way you walk in from one side of the house and then walk through each room to the other side,” she adds. “It sounds like a story unfolding.”

Bright and airy, the house channels the breeze from the Spanish coast with a touch of wabi-sabi.

Sequoia admits her favorite part about decorating is that it never really ends. While she occasionally brings things along that she absolutely dislikes, she sticks to one rule of thumb: “It helps me make sure I really want something before I get started. keep things fresh. “

“Having a good tea set has really changed your life,” says Sequoia, whose own includes Hasami porcelain pieces and Cloutier ceramic mugs.

Now that she is no longer at the restaurant, Sequoia’s days are very different. His mornings start by chasing after his four-year-old son to get him ready for school. Next, she brews a pot of Earl Gray tea, followed by 15 minutes of yoga and 15 minutes of meditation before working from home.

“I spend most of my days planning menus, marketing, buying ingredients and materials, responding to emails and finding new inspiration,” she says. “I use dinner as a way to try out new ideas that come to mind. And I like to end the day with lots of hugs – and Antiques roadshow. “

“I had ogled Sobu’s Frank chair, so when I could, I made the investment,” Sequoia explains of the Oakland-based brand.

Sequoia’s clean kitchen is where she cooks up ideas for her meal delivery service, Tarocco.

“I love sitting at the dining table with the windows open so I can see the bougainvilleas outside and listen to the birdsong. The record player is also in the dining room, so that’s where we get together and talk about our day, and brainstorm ideas. ”

Sequoia loves to entertain, so she knew she needed a large dining table. She branded this farm style on Craigslist for just a few hundred dollars. “I love to sit here with the windows open, to see the bougainvilleas outside and listen to the birdsong,” she says. “The record player is also in the dining room, so that’s where we get together and talk about our days and brainstorm ideas.”

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