Restaurateur Interview Series: Kelly and Erinn from Kindfood

Kindfood Gluten-free and Vegan Organic Bakery & Cafe
399 John Street (at Lakeshore)
Burlington, Ontario L7R 2K3
905-637-2700

Owner: Kelly Childs: Co-Proprietor and Head Baker & Chef
Co- Founders: Kelly Childs and Erinn Weatherbie (daughter)

Is this your first restaurant? Yes, it’s quite an eye-opener, but my husband Ken has been in the business his whole life, so I get a lot of coaching, inspiration and support.

What have been your greatest professional success and your biggest setback?
Kindfood is my greatest personal success, next to having my daughter and marrying the man of my dreams. Kindfood is a complete culmination of everything I believe in, and live to my core. The name in itself is a truism. Your daily ritual of decisions can alter the world around you, and if used and created with mindfulness you can make a pretty huge impact. If your decisions are made with kindness first, you begin to be the solution, and everything I believe you do in life has an elastic band attached. So let’s say, you are “kind” to those around you, how does that impact your world, how is that kindness returned, and how does that open your world? As an example, if you decide to eat healthier at no cost to another living being, what altruistic and environmental repercussions occur? Kindfood is just that, kind to your body, kind to animals and kind to the environment. The world needs more of this, and Kindfood is transcending the status quo, which, in actual fact, is not sustainable.

To date, the only set-back is not really a set-back, it’s not having enough time to build certain aspects of the business as quickly as I like, so it’s more of a dilemma. Our vegan, gluten-free baked goods are in the crazy demand and it is also one of the biggest new food trends, along with eating whole food, plant-based foods/cuisine, i.e. Vegan.

What’s your favourite dish on the menu?
Oooh, that’s a hard one. That depends on my mood and the time of day. For breakfast, it’s either one of our Organic green smoothies or green juices, along with a pumpkin seed muffin or our amazing World Peace Cookie, with 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. If it’s lunch or dinner, wow, our Vegan Caesar is to absolutely die for. I challenge anyone to a ‘Caesar’ challenge! Ours really rocks! Our tempeh burgers with our secret marinade are over-the-top too, and our bowls are made with organic brown rice and they really hit the spot. So, what are my favorites?? Just about everything! However, our baked goods really shake this planet! Seriously. We have had blind taste tests against the best of Toronto’s conventional bakeries, vegan and/or gluten-free bakeries and we win hands down every time. We also have customers and travelers who are patrons of New York’s, and L.A.’s best vegan and gluten-free bakeries and they say our products are superior. Yes, you could say that I’m a little proud.

What’s the most popular appetizer on the menu?
We create some amazing daily specials as appetizers that we incorporate into the menu, but our soups are made organic and fresh daily and are hearty and very popular.

Most popular entrée?
We have an incredible sandwich called the B.L.A.T (Bac-un, lettuce, tomato, avocado, with our house made mayo on gluten-free bread). We also have the Rueben Sandwich and Buddha Bowl that all sell incredibly well, and almost equally.

Most popular dessert?
All of our baked goods are popular. However, the cupcakes have made it pretty much around the globe (in terms of social media and people just sharing their experiences). We have people from Australia and Thailand, Bolivia, Germany, Italy all wanting us to find a way to have them shipped, it’s so crazy.

How often do you change your menu items? Do you have daily or weekly specials? How do you choose those specials?
We don’t change our menu too often because people would be very upset if their favorites disappeared off the menu. We have pretty much let our customers decide what was going to be our staple items based on popularity. We have daily features, as well as have daily bakery features, so it’s never the same.

All our ingredients are organic. People are really starting to understand that organic means “no GMO’s, chemicals or toxins” in or on your food. You are what you eat, so be wise in the most important purchases you make in your life.

Do you have gluten-free, soy-free, and sugar-free options on your menu?

Gluten-free: We are a 100% Gluten-free bakery and café.

Soy-free: All our baked goods are soy-free. We have a few items on our café menu that have soy ingredients. (Mayo, Tempeh, Miso, Tofu and Tamari)

Sugar-free: We never use refined sugar in anything. As sweeteners, we will use dates, raisins, banana, other fruit purees, maple syrup, agave, raw evaporated cane juice, apple sauce, Our muffins are always sugar-free.

Do you use eco-friendly packaging? What else do you do to reduce your environmental impact?
Kindfood, is about being “kind” to the environment as one of our three-pillars, so being a 100% plant-based whole food bakery and café brings us close to being “green”, but you have to follow through with plant-based packaging, post-consumer recyclable items and print materials. We make purchasing decisions based on how far our products have to travel and how they are packaged. We share our passion with our staff and customers, and they in turn make changes in their habits. It’s why we love what we do. We get to make a difference.

If you could eat at any vegan restaurant in the world where would it be?
Candle 79 in NYC is my favorite vegan restaurant. We love the owners, Bart and Joy and the GM, Benay, not to mention the Incredible Wonder Chef Angel. In L.A., it would have to be Real Food Daily. Ann Gentry does such an amazing job there.

Do you have any advice for those wanting to start a vegetarian/vegan restaurant?
Buy a Kindfood franchise and make your life easier!! On the other hand, the restaurant business is hard. As my husband says, “you paint a picture one brush stroke at a time, and if you don’t have that picture in your head, you’ll paint a mess, and that is what the restaurant business is; hundreds of moving parts and brush strokes”. Passion is wanting to paint that picture in your head, but you need to go in with a lot of research and advice. Location is key (location location location), so is design, layout, atmosphere, budgets, cash-flow, accountability, staffing, training, lighting, menu design, parking, curb appeal, the smile on everyone’s face, etc etc etc. I’m just lucky I have my ‘in-house’ consultant with me to support me.

Be true to yourself and commit to your plan. You can’t afford to do it mediocre- there’s too many mediocre eating establishments out there. Be passionate and the rest will follow.

Thanks Kelly and Erinn for sharing with HappyCow! I can’t wait to come and visit you at Kindfood! If you are a restaurant that would like to be featured in our Interview Series please let us know!

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About eatyourveggies

Christy Morgan, The Blissful Chef, has been tantalizing taste buds for years as a vegan chef, cooking instructor, blogger, and cookbook author. Find out more at theblissfulchef.com. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Stop by and say hello!
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