COVID-19 dealt a gut punch to restaurateurs who, suddenly, had to close up shop. Perhaps no one expressed their feelings as poignantly as Niven Patel of Ghee Indian Kitchen, when he posted a picture of him with two of his team members.
“Today was one of the hardest days of my life,” he said in his post. “With so much uncertainty, we had to make some very hard decisions. These two were some of the many we had to lay off till we figure what lies ahead … Through all the tears I was shocked how resilient the team was, all they said was ‘Yes, chef.’ I’m lucky to have some of the best professionals that work with me daily.”
Within a week of restaurants closing, the James Beard Award semifinalist had moved into a takeout/delivery model that also offered customers local produce from his farm, bringing in lettuce, eggplant, greens, tomatoes and cut flowers. Not only did the bins brighten up his curbside service, customers appreciated the convenience. “It went really well,” he said. Takeout customers got a sprig of their flowers and a thank-you note stapled to each to-go bag.
Their efforts didn’t stop there. Soon, Patel started offering family meals for laid-off restaurant workers, including breakfast sandwiches made with farm-grown rosemary, eggs and bacon, served with chai; biryani; and fresh penne with local greens and Parmigiano reggiano.
In the weeks since the shutdown, many restaurants have joined forces to feed out-of-work hospitality employees and others in need, but Ghee was one of the first, feeding good food to one of the hardest-hit sectors of the local workforce without fanfare. On May 5, they celebrated their three-year anniversary. Instead of acknowledging the current circumstances, Patel and his team was grateful.
“The years have demonstrated that the family that has grown within our team is everything. We couldn’t be happier to do what we are doing, cooking good food and serving it to our community and we wouldn’t be where we are without any of you,” he said. “Thank you to our team at Ghee and the locals who show constant support. We love all of you.”
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