Dishes like garlicky shrimp and grits with maple-glazed bacon, Nashville hot craven with pull-apart malasadas, and loco moco with abbreviate rib and French onion gravy would be acumen abundant to abutment a restaurant, alike in a burghal like Costa Mesa that has one of Orange County’s best aliment scenes. For chef John Park, acceptable aliment wasn’t about abundant at Toast Kitchen & Bakery, his avant-garde diner, or at adjoining Fill, a sister atom that specializes in ice chrism and fresh-piped malasadas. The acclimatized chef ahead formed with L.A. restaurants like Father’s Office, Lukshon and Water Grill and is now channeling his acceptance into multi-layered alms with this beginning business.
“I’m actual adored – friends, family, money – I’m not affluent by any means, but I accept a lot,” Park says. “I’m advantageous and adored and others are not so advantageous and blessed, so what can we do to advice out?”
Park and his ancestors relocated to Orange County two years ago and awash two branches of Quenelle ice chrism boutique and Poke Stuf in the process. He surveyed the comestible landscape, got a faculty for the issues adverse locals and bent how he could help. “O.C. is my association appropriate now,” Park says. “My ambition is to abode issues like homelessness, biologic addiction, aliment insecurity, and poverty. Association is everyone, not aloof the bodies that you like.”
For a year-and-a-half, Park hosted pie pop-ups at places like Anaheim Packing District, Burnt Crumbs, and Tacklebox, altruistic gain to two charities. Faces of Santa Ana, a non-profit from Park’s adolescent Newsong Abbey affiliate Brian Peterson, paints portraits of abandoned bodies in Santa Ana, and already those paintings sell, gain go into an annual for them. Park additionally formed with Bill Bracken of Bracken’s Kitchen, who acclimated to be a restaurant chef in L.A. and now delivers alimental commons to bankrupt children.
Wahoo’s Fish Taco co-founder Ed Lee is an broker in Tacklebox. He abstruse about Park’s pie-fueled charity. As luck would accept it, Lee was additionally in the action of purchasing The Golden Truffle, one of Orange County’s aboriginal accomplished dining restaurants.
“One day out of the dejected he asked if I’d be absorbed in active it,” Park says. “I’d never met the guy before.” Originally, Lee was cerebration of featuring a pie shop, brunch from Tacklebox chef Brian Huskey, and affair at night. “I told him, I don’t anticipate that’s a acceptable idea,” Park says. “I can do all three concepts; I aloof charge a little advice with the bar.”
Enter James Mullis, a built-in Hawaiian who wondered why acceptable malasadas were so adamantine to appear by alfresco his home state. These soft, Portuguese-inspired donuts accept proliferated on the islands and are frequently abounding with bake-apple jams and custards. He additionally has bar ability from time as Wahoo’s cooler administrator and Morton’s bar trainer. He affiliated with pastry chef Lincoln Carson a few years aback and committed to malasadas. Coincidentally, Park staged for Carson at DB Brasserie in Las Vegas and they formed calm on Michael Mina’s XIV in West Hollywood. Talk about kismet. Now Mullis oversees Toast’s bar affairs and Park manages Fill’s malasada and ice chrism production, with chef ascribe from Carson.
Toast and Fill accord 10% net (of profits) to a altered alms anniversary month. Accessible Gate International allowances for August and September. Deidre Pujols, wife of Angels baseball brilliant Albert Pujols, started an eight-week comestible training affairs for abandoned people, veterans, cartage victims, and added alone groups. Toast additionally employs a few graduates.
Park absitively which charities to account by spending the 11 months it took to accessible Toast’s doors to vet altered bounded non-profits. He met with countless non-profit admiral in being and talks with agents associates to acquisition out what causes they’re amorous about.
Margins are awfully low in restaurants, but Park managed to argue Lee that altruistic 10% of profits still fabricated sense. “It’s not easy,” Park says. “Minimum allowance is a big affair activity up. Workers atone and aliment costs are difficult.” Aliment costs are abnormally aerial at Toast, aback they antecedent exceptional capacity from the Santa Monica farmers market. Park adds, “If you do the job appropriate and break on top of costs, you can still accomplish a lot of money. We apperceive it’s activity aback into the community, so it about makes us assignment alike harder alive it goes to the bodies who charge it and are beneath fortunate.”
Toast doesn’t aloof cut checks. They additionally apply veterans, bodies from the advance affliction system, abandoned people, and convalescent biologic addicts. In total, 10-15% of advanced and aback of abode agents appear from these groups. “Chefs consistently accuse how milennials don’t appetite to assignment hard, they aloof appetite to be affluent and acclaimed afterwards one year, but you accept addition who’s been on the artery for 10 years and appetite to change their activity around, they’re activity to appearance up and assignment adamantine because they accept a acumen to assignment adamantine and action for it.” Negatives accept been negligible, aloof accepted issues like staffers assuming up backward and not calling to let managers know. Park adds, “It’s been cutting positive.”
Toast isn’t the aboriginal time restaurants accept active unconventional, community-first hiring practices. Acceptance additionally fueled Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, area Father Greg Boyle has been rehabilitating above assemblage associates through aliment account aback 1988 at their Chinatown café and high-volume broad bakery. In San Francisco, well-reviewed Mexican restaurant Cala leans heavily on ex-convicts to anatomy their staff.
Park’s association aboriginal access additionally extends to planned on-site farming. Toast is alive to install an aquaponics acreage either on the roof or in their parking lot that not alone yields aftermath for the restaurant while absolution them apply added abandoned bodies and veterans.
Park attends Newsong Abbey in Santa Ana, but his acceptance and accommodating impulses don’t stop with Sunday services. “It’s my life. It’s who I am every day,” he says. “Go aback a brace years with the Trump election, there was a time aback I was off of Facebook for a continued time because it was abashing to see how abundant negativity was out there. I acquainted like we could do article with our business and assets we had to accompany anniversary added together, rather than abstracted by chase or means.”
Before Toast’s opening, Park hosted account four-course, Sunday night dinners for abandoned bodies at Newsong Abbey alleged the King’s Table. He recalls, “We’d go to Santa Ana Civic Center, get 20-25 bodies from the streets. We’d try to get one being from the artery and one being from the abbey so they could allotment a meal. We approved to accomplish absolutely acceptable aliment – with capacity like lobster and steak – and act like it was a accomplished dining restaurant.” The abbey adjourned these dinners, Park formed with added chefs to source, prep, and baker the food, and a aggregation of volunteers from the abbey would serve, bus, and ablution dishes.
This fall, Park hopes to re-launch the banquet alternation either at the restaurant, aback at Newsong, or at the Teen Leadership Foundation house, a advance adolescent facility.
“A lot of companies accomplish their money, attending at what they’ve becoming at the end of the year, and again donate,” Park says. “Why don’t we accept we’ll be successful, accumulate our aliment costs bottomward and bazaar correctly? Why not body that into the business model? Assume and accept you’ll be active and accept the money, so why not alpha giving it away?”
Park and Lee plan to accessible added Toast locations – possibly in Santa Monica and San Diego – apprenticed by the aforementioned charitable, community-minded mission.
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