Kirtida Kitchen

Kirtida Kitchen — Supporting the Community During Covid…Straight from the Heart

Enjoy an incredible story about generosity, giving, and community support that's truly at the heart of everything that Kirtida Kitchen does for those around them, with the rewards being far beyond anything financial.

00:47 – About Kirtida Kitchen

02:17 – Kirtida’s community support initiatives

05:12 – How helping others helps ourselves

8:20 – Businesses and organizations Kirtida has worked with

11:25 – On the importance of giving from your heart

12:16 – Considerations to keep in mind when donating food

14:23 – How to support Kirtida Kitchen initiatives

15:48 – Summary

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Jason Bavington (00:02):

Hey everyone it’s Jason with DUX — Your Local City Guide and welcome to another episode of our video blog. I have to tell you, you know, I’m always excited by the different blogs that we do, but this one in particular I’m looking forward to because we’re talking today with the owners of an Indian restaurant here in Guelph Ontario. And I gotta tell you. I love cooking Indian. I love eating Indian food. I love celebrating Indian food. So I’m sure by the end of this call I’m going to be pretty, pretty hungry. So today we have, Hitish from Kirtida kitchen. Welcome. Hitesh.

Hitesh (00:37):

Thank you. Thank you Jason.

Jason Bavington (00:38):

Nice to have you on the call. So yeah, like I said, I think after this call I’m going to have to drop on by and, you know, probably buy one of everything that you got. I’m going to be pretty hungry after this. So Hitesh, why don’t you tell us a little bit about Kritida kitchen, what your restaurant is all about and what life was like for the restaurant before Covid-19.

Hitesh (00:58):

Well, Jason, we are in this business for last two and a half years. We opened the recipe to the kitchen in 2017 December and we had a quite very good response as we are the only one restaurant in town which is offer one hundred percent vegetarian, vegan and gluten free, which is our specialty in town. And we have steady and growing clientele base. And so far before Covid we were doing extremely good. And after the Covid happen in mid of the March and beginning of the April, let’s say. What we have seen that the business gets slowed down all of a sudden for two weeks as no one know what to do, how to do, and people kind of scared to buy the food from the restaurant as everybody, very precautious to get the outside food as dining is closed.

Hitesh (01:52):

But our setup from the beginning is only take out restaurants and we falls in an essential business category, so we didn’t get impacted as much as the other dine-in restaurants. We have impacted about two to three weeks, first of all, three weeks of the Covid where we don’t know what we can do differently that will help us to grow the business. But what we have done so far, so as we are a restaurant owner and we do also work in the community and we do lots of community helping donations, as well as we’re supporting the schools events. And some other donation activities in the past which helped lots of us. So we have tried to do, let’s say we have a restaurant and nothing much to do. So we thought let’s, since this is a Covid situation and there are many places that need a food supply.

Hitesh (02:48):

So we decided to let’s start to give community back at this point as we have time and we have facility and we have ability to supply to feed those community in need members. We have started to contact local Guelph food bank, drop-in centres, or churches. And we are also offering for the health care provider certain options like discount or gift certificates even. We run a gift certificate campaign like a $100 gift certificate Campion for 50 bucks, like 50% off to it. So we have tried many different things. So what it will be turned out for us that it is bounced back to us and we have seen that the restaurant is getting busier again, in an expected time. The positive notes — by doing community activities, it’s, it’s helping the business and it’s also keeping us busy. The coping with the situation, as so many people I have seen when I meet the customers and I always love to talk, all my customers in person, when they come in to pick the food, they feel a mental stress.

Hitesh (04:00):

And for us when we talk to them they feel kind of relaxed and they say, look, while we’re visiting you, you know, we like it. You know, we talk to you. We feel very happy. Helps us, too, because that is our one of the customer service key factors in our restaurant. But we have seen very good positive, positive impact as a business owner. We can see that if you are positive and if you think this is an opportunity to grow yourself, to make your business stable. So just do whatever you want to do. Just keep doing it, it will definitely help. And believe me after starting this community work, we just enjoying it. We just loving it and we’re thinking to keep doing it until we can’t. It’s not just limited for the Covid only, but we will keep continue our community works and we have seen lots of great compliments from the people and they, even we have seen the people are giving some cash donations to us that, you know, “because you’re doing such a great activity for the community, we would like to be the part of this” and they are helping us and they keep motivating us to do more and more by doing this one.

Hitesh (05:13):

It’s also helping us to, you know, like, our mental health, basically, is very concerning in this point for everyone. That will keep us functioning and keep us working. So no matter if I have nothing to do or I have to do something, but we do first thing in the morning, we try to get ready as much as we can do the food drive for our front-line workers. So we always contact the grocery stores, any medical centres, or any recommendations offered by some customers or any friends and family. Then we will drive there. We will call them first, we will make sure that they are accepting the food donations. And so we we are providing them food donations extra and, but this is working for sure and we are enjoying it.

Jason Bavington (06:01):

That’s great. So, it’s very interesting and, you know, a lot of businesses that I speak to, they pivoted their businesses in a variety of ways to bring more revenue in and try and get revenue to continue to come into the business. But I find it really interesting that not only do you have your takeout still open and that your restaurant is designed for take out from the very beginning, which is a very strong advantage that you already have, that you guys decided to not only continue to keep the doors open, but to give back to the community, like you said, and to contribute to the community and to support the community, which is a very honourable thing that you’ve done. Because, as we know, it’s very, very important for front-line workers and people who don’t have, simply don’t have time to cook because they’re too busy. They have too many other priorities.

Jason Bavington (06:53):

But we all need to have good food. We all need to have healthy food. You know, we need to have well-prepared food to nourish our bodies and to keep us going. And I also find it really interesting how you said that through the process of giving back to the community, it raises our spirits, right? Makes us feel good because supporting each other and having each other’s back I feel is like one of the core things about humanity. right? That, you know, at our core we feel good and we require supporting each other and helping each other. So, yeah, it makes a lot of sense from what you say that, you know, it makes you feel good and then you have, customers come back, you have the organizations come back and everyone’s spirits are raised as you said.

Jason Bavington (07:41):

And I think that’s one of a number of important elements that will get us through this situation is that community, that embedded and enmeshed community support that we all rely on each other. And so for you guys to contribute to the community, I think is fantastic. I think it’s also great that you said that once this Coivd-19 storm is over, that you’re considering continuing the community involvement. Because there’s plenty more benefits from it, right? It’s not, we’re not talking about any more financial benefits. We’re talking about, you know, feel good, community, spiritual, social benefits. All these things are essential. So tell me a little bit more about some of the organizations that you’ve worked with and how has it looked for you to prepare food and donate? Can you give an example of a place that you’ve donated to and how that typically works?

Hitesh (08:32):

Well, we, usually we make a call to the, let’s say if I have to donate my food drive to any, let’s say any grocery stores or any medical places. We usually call them. That’s what I mentioned before. We call them. Because in Covid there I have seen this, lots of places is not accepting the food donations, particularly hospitals or many medical centers. So I’ll check in first always. And we try to, you know, respect the decision if they are not accepting it, we are not offering them. So I have done with Zehrs Markets in town and a Shopper’s Drug Mart. We have done, we have worked with the TD bank as well. So we have donated TD bank to front line staff. In Zehrs front line staff. In Shopper’s front-line staff and we also the Guelph food bank we are doing every week for the Guelph food bank and we doing every week for the Welcome In Drop In Centre in Guelph as well.

Hitesh (09:32):

So we trying to connect with as many places that we can go on. And another thing we have noticed during the Covid that I have seen this. Lots of families now wish to help us small family owned business instead of going to the any big franchises. They said go and support the local businesses instead of going there. So because those people really need to functional their cash flow, they’re working because they are open and they are there in new pandemic and they have to help pay their monthly expenses or the employment. Everything is, we haven’t let go any of our employees, unless they wanted to go, that didn’t want to work for this situation. Otherwise, we haven’t let any employees to go from our restaurant. We giving them as much as hours we can. So they will be, get that cash flow continuously. And we have seen people are more disciplined, very kind and very respectful during this Covid. That is big change I have seen, after this Covid. Before sometime we have experienced the rough experience from the customers, but now I haven’t seen anything like that, which is biggest surprise for us. And we are so happy that people have adapted. The change hass happened and they’re loving to support a small businesses.

Jason Bavington (11:00):

Yeah, it’s great that, you know, I totally agree that the level of compassion out there has increased so significantly. So it’s great that, you know, you’re giving your love into the community and you’re receiving that love back from the community, especially for, you know, husband and wife, small business restaurant like the kind that you have. So yeah, it’s great to see it come full circle basically. So now that you’ve had an opportunity to contribute to front-line workers, donate to front-line workers, work with other organizations. Now that you’ve been doing it for awhile. If you were to look back on it, is there anything that you would change? That you would do differently? What would be your suggestions for other restaurants that might not have yet considered doing what you’re doing? Do you have any suggestions for others to either make the process easier or, you know, any feedback that you have for people who want to do what you’re doing?

Hitesh (11:54):

Well, for the suggestion, I can say that particular thing is this food donations is, it comes from your heart. You can’t do it, if you doesn’t have willingness to do it. The first thing, if you’re thinking that you want to do it, then you should be very kind and should be very hard person that take an initiative to do it. So once you have that feeling, that is always coming from the heart, that you will always find a way how I can do differently. But I suggest, and I mentioned before, that you can just prepare so many meals running out to donate the food everywhere. But you have to check it in first. That is my first recommendation. Don’t prepare, don’t give it away unless you know they are accepting the food donations or not. It is very, very, very first thing that I’m recommending. Don’t just run. Once you know, find out how many members are working there and how much donations they are looking for and only supply that much, whatever they’re looking for. Don’t just give them plenty of food. That is going to be wasted.

Hitesh (12:58):

It doesn’t work that way. And some places where they are not accepting the food donations we have approached them differently. We offering them, we give them 50% off or 30% off or we offer them a gift certificate for let’s say $100 gift certificates for $50 so that way we are reimbursing, we are appreciating their value. That is always count and that will help. So there is a very different way you can count on. It’s not just a one way to just donate the food is the only way. But there is another approach you can consider to give away to the community. Because not every, every institute, or not every business or any donation that will be considered. So we recommend check first and see your affordability, what you can do and what you can not do.

Hitesh (13:50):

Because when you’re going out to donate the meal you might be, because one time I remember that we become a victim of a fraud or two. He wants the food for free and we find it out later on, right? So sometimes it’s happened. So we have to make sure that before we jumped in, it should be, it should be very kind and you should know where you are going and who you are contacting that you’re not become a victim of something fraud activities where you feel after that, oops, I did the wrong thing.

Jason Bavington (14:20):

It’s always “do your homework first”. So for people that are watching the video, they want to support what you’re doing, you know, maybe donate to your cause. Is there, can they donate through your website or your email? How have people contributed money towards the initiative that you’re currently doing?

Hitesh (14:38):

So whatever donations we have seen so far, the customer who walks in here or they call us here “that’s okay, I’m placing an order and we will donate towards your community work.” And they donate us in a cash value or they sometimes ifsaywe can email you. We don’t have any set up that somebody can donate like on email or maybe on my website. We are not, we haven’t seen that one. But we were surprised when we have seen these donations and we kind of thinking of ourselves like how this has happened”, right? Intended. But when they stepped in and they like our work and they donate too and the meaning of that one when they’re donating, this says, “we’re trying to help you where it all costs you too, to doing this community work. So we would like to donate something that will help you to buy some groceries” and you can do more than you can expect there. So that’s, that was the intent. Some of that one. And, but, unfortunately we haven’t set up anything like that, that we accepting any donations to any web or any kind of email.

Jason Bavington (15:41):

Okay. So it just happens. Just happens more casually. Like you said, people walk into the store, they just want to contribute, which is fantastic. So in summary, Kirtida Kitchen, what they did was not only do they have their storefront open still for takeout, but they’ve also created an entire program in-house to prepare meals and distribute meals to various companies and organizations in the community. Some of the lessons that they learned was always call first. Always call the organization, always call the store first to make sure that they’re okay and that they’re ready to accept the meals, the preparations that you have for them, so it doesn’t go to waste. Other important factor to consider for restaurants that are wanting to do this is only prepare enough food for the organization that they need. So if they have 10 people and they want meals for 10 people only make for 10 people. Don’t make for 20, because the food will just unfortunately go to waste.

Jason Bavington (16:38):

And always do your homework. Always make sure you know who you’re dealing with, what kind of company or organization. Because even though there’s lots of great community initiatives that are happening right now, there’s still those flies in the ointment out there who can take advantage of your generosity, which isn’t cool. So, you know, make sure you do your homework, make sure you know who you’re dealing with and everything will flow from there. And one of the most important things that Hitesh said, which I love, is that any action you do in this donation category, make sure you do it from the heart. Has to come from the heart, from the soul. And the rest will just literally flow from that, which is fantastic. So yeah, so Hitesh, I celebrate what you, and your wife, are doing for Kirtida Kitchen. I think it’s great for the community. It’s great that you are also still able to keep your doors open and hopefully this storm will pass soon and we’ll get back to a new normal. So yeah. Thank you very much for sharing everything that you’ve shared on the call today, Hitesh.

Hitesh (17:40):

Thank you. Thank you, Jason. Last but not the least, make sure when you’re doing any donation ask the allergies to their employees, if they have allergies, make sure you supply food accordingly.

Jason Bavington (17:50):

Good call. Check in with the allergies. And yeah, as Hitesh mentioned at the beginning of the call, they specialize in vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. So that’s, you know, that’s really, really great as well. So if you’re watching this video anywhere else, but on our website, head on over to dux.city. Click on blog and you’ll see the post for Kirtida Kitchen. And what we’ll do on the blog post at the bottom, after the video, you’ll see links to their social media, to their Twitter, Instagram, all that jazz to their website. So you can keep connected with Kirtida Kitchen. You know, when you get hungry, definitely place an order. Head on over there for some great takeout. Fill your belly, help the community out in turn. So my name is Jason with DUX — Your Local City Guide. Take care everyone keep sharing, supporting your local goodness. Cheers.

Hitesh (18:38):

Thank you Jason.

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