Dining with a Purpose

A story by Aline Krioghlian

When it comes to the hospitality and food & beverage fields, innovation is inevitable. Not only innovation in taste, design and service, but also innovation in the social world. The industry has been pioneering in environmentally friendly and sustainable ways of operations such as using locally-sourced food, clean energy and low carbon footprints for a while now. The latest trend is to blaze a path in social justice. The key is to find new models to help use the power of food to serve a purpose.


The Power of Purpose

Owning a business means understand where it’s going, or at least where the owner wants it to go. If I was a chef or a restaurant owner, I’d ask myself ‘What is my restaurant’s purpose?’. Now that’s a tough one to answer. It could simply be that I want to generate revenues, or be my own boss, or have the best restaurant in town, of course these are worthwhile goals, but I must look beyond the bottom line, push boundaries and tap into the emotion of my restaurant’s existence.

Many chefs and restaurateurs are moving their business models to a purpose-driven dining experience that will automatically redefine what it means to be profitable. They are putting philanthropy at the heart of their restaurant’s mission. These include helping communities to stand back up on their feet, by hiring people who are excluded from the society, feeding disaster victims, training refugees and more.

There are countless examples; I’d like to list a few and then go in depth with the one I found most interesting. World-class chef Massimo Bottura is opening up a soup kitchen in the US. A fast-casual Mexican chain called Zambrero in Australia has a plate for plate initiative that donates a meal to someone in need. Robin Hood, a restaurant in Spain, feeds the homeless for free in a dignified way. Third Eye Café in India is hiring people from the transgender community in a conservative society.

It’s amazing to see how these businesses have different cultures, different societies, different mindsets yet they are all determined to help the community and fight against poverty, discrimination and exclusion from society.

There are some situations that can happen to all of us. It’s a matter of putting yourself in the shoes of the others and lending a hand to help.


Serving tables instead of serving time

Now, going in depth about my favorite initiative, another purpose-driven dining experience: Homegirl Café by Homeboy Industries.

Father Greg Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in Los Angeles that offers second chances and provides hope, training and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of the community. Each year over 10,000 former gang members come through Homeboy Industries’ doors in an effort to make a positive change

While Homeboy Industries has created many social enterprises over the years, one of the most notable is Homegirl Café, a restaurant that offers employment and on-the-job training to women affected by domestic violence, gang violence, and incarceration.

The restaurant seems to be a favorite with a 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor. It’s a farm-to-table breakfast and lunch spot with Latino flavors and a healthy modern twist. A meal there isn’t a charity mission. The café is Zagat-rated and offers delicious food with Mexican flavors. Customers don’t just go there to help out people. The food is so good that it would be worth pursuing even without the added bonus of helping staff members. The combination of the two, however, truly makes Homegirl Café an innovative restaurant.

This initiative stands out because it empowers women and offers them second chances.

Finally, the industry is not an easy one to innovate in, especially when competition is super fierce. In a rapidly evolving trade, it’s important to think about creating a brand that thinks about the future and works towards connecting customers. Doing social good is what really matters and makes the world a better place to live in.

This is a story of the Futurist Club

By Science of the Time

Written by: Aline Krioghlian

Aline is a Master’s student specializing in F&B and restaurant management in Barcelona.

Previously a Social Media Content Writer in Dubai, Aline has decided to expand her knowledge and learn more about the hospitality field.

She loves traveling around the world and be open to new experiences that will expose her to new cultures. She’s Lebanese with Armenian origins.

She is passionate about constantly learning new things and exploring trends and creative solutions.

Her hobbies include cooking, photography and board games. When she’s not doing all those, she’s probably trying out a new restaurant.

She loathes speaking about herself in the third person, but can be convinced to do so from time to time. Find her on Instagram