Letter from Tunde.
I would like to ask you for some money— how about that for getting right to it :)
I’m launching a new project-- a conceptual restaurant, analogous to an exhibition space, at the intersection of food, protest, art and commentary, featuring evolving conversations and menus.
I have been refining this concept for almost three years as I traveled and staged dinners across the country. I believe I have found the right opportunity for this project in South Philadelphia, where my good friends Benjamin and his wife Christina, will be vacating their current restaurant at the end of June for another restaurant.
I am really excited because this restaurant space. I have actually hosted a few dinners at this restaurant so I am very familiar and comfortable with the space. It’s the right sized kitchen and dining space to prepare and host intimate dinners. The space also has convenient delivery access, dry and cold storage space-- it even has a spacious basement with enough room for a sleeping cot, ideal for the inevitable naps between shifts :)
Ben and Christina, who use their space to highlight immigrant right issues, also share my food philosophy-- food can be used as protest. Below is a video about their work.
Along with enviable layout, the restaurant will have been in continuous and recent use at the time I assume the lease. This offers significantly reduced startup costs, with savings between $45K and $75k on such expenses as design and build out; equipment purchase and other compliance costs.
Besides the minimal start up costs, the restaurant has low overhead expenses, or fixed costs. For context, overhead expenses at this location, will be about 60% less than at a traditional restaurant. Combined, the low startup and overhead cost benefits provide the necessary financial flexibility I require to bravely experiment with a new restaurant format-- otherwise impossible considering traditional cost pressures of the restaurant business.
So what is my new idea? Coupling food, boldly flavored, distinctly presented, with traditionally marginalized conversational themes such as race, gender, sexuality. The simultaneity of these two elements, culturally significant cuisine, and critical discourse, contravene traditional notions of a restaurant. This space will be designed to counteract the idea that public spaces can only be polite and impersonal, impenetrable to the private grievances folks suffer. The restaurant also demands diners understand food from a place of engagement and not escapism.
Inspired by by-gone era restaurants, SAARTJ will also host collaborative dinners with cultural and political producers-- artists, educators, and activist-- to situate their art and protest in unconventional spaces.The space will be a staging point for culinary interventions, a studio to experiment with ways food can affect culture.
Excuse me if all this sounds esoteric but I am trying to create something that doesn't exist yet, a space that extends the vocabulary of reality and makes the world bigger by accommodating different kinds of ideas and people. That’s part of the definition of future, right? To create something that isn’t here yet.
My fundraising goal is $15,000 a small fortune for me but about 1/10th the startup costs of a similarly sized, traditional restaurant. Your mission, should you choose to accept is to help me create this new food future-- with your hard earned dollar billz!
I’d like to move pretty quickly to secure the space, as it won’t be long on the market. Give as the spirit instructs, it’s all appreciated.
Finally, I’m not making the project public yet, I'd ask that you are discreet as well-- no social media posts or sharing please.
We are each responsible for creating the spaces we want to see, and I would like your help.
Thanks much much! Many many kisses!
p.s: be advised: perks received for contributions don't even come close to covering the value of your donation, because, duh, that defeats the purpose-- so don't get too hype. cheers :)