Hello Toronto from Tito Ron’s! I’m chef Tristen Petate. You’ve seen us out there at your favourite foodie events over the past year frying up our special brand of goodness. We’ve spent the last year both giving and receiving some Filipino food education, and now we need your support so that we can graduate!
We’re hitting that next level and we’re not going to stop being different now that we’re leaving our temporary tent and moving to a real counter - bricks, mortar and all! We’ve built this business on you, Toronto; You made our first year such a success. All I had when we started this dream was a partner and a credit card, but the amazing foodies in this city have come out over and over to show us that your appetite for Filipino food is not satisfied!
Our funding hasn’t come from the banks' faith in Filipino food. It’s been you, Toronto, that’s moved us forward and we want you to be there to help us graduate from a little popup with a big heart to a permanent part of the heartbeat of Toronto.
We can’t get there alone. Read along and watch our video, and you’ll see that we have the passion to be there every day. If you’ve tried our food, you know we have the taste. If you know Michael or I, or you’ve had the pleasure of meeting the Tito himself, you know we have the heart. All that’s missing now is you, and we need your help to make us a success in our store the way you made us a success in our tent.
There’s just something about Filipino food. To me, nothing compares to the simplicity, the comfort, the soul, the sheer love that I see in Filipino food. Food in the Philippines is influenced by many cultures; Chinese, Spanish and Malaysian just to name a few. Dishes differ from region to region and from family to family.
At Tito Ron’s, we add Caribbean influences to our food. An important part of my family is Trinidadian and our family gatherings usually include curries and rotis as well as lumpia and pancit. There are so many ingredients and methods of cooking that are common between the two types of cuisine. Pineapples, coconuts, cassava, tamarind and plantains are a few ingredients that we use in both cuisines and that we love using to create our own dishes. Look at the simple, slow-cooked stews that are made by both cultures and you’ll see that both value the importance of comfort in food. It seemed natural for us to combine the two cultures in our own offerings.
The first Tito Ron’s recipe that I tested was for Lumpia Trinidad. “Doubles” is a common Trinidadian street food. Channa (curried chickpeas) are served with bara (a flat, fried bread). We make fresh, hand-rolled Filipino style lumpia with a channa filling and serve it with a Tamarind barbecue sauce. While we aim to honour traditional Filipino ingredients and methods, I find the addition of Caribbean flavours adds an additional level of spice and seasoning that makes our food truly unique.
It’s hard to believe, but Tito Ron’s has only been operating since May 2015. 8 short months. In that time, we were able to establish ourselves on the summer festival circuit in Toronto. We’ve successfully participated in the T.O Food Fest, the inaugural Sweetery Festival, the Coconut Festival and the Parkdale Flea Market. We capped off the season with the much publicized Toronto Food & Wine Festival where our sweet and savoury lumpias got finger-licking thumbs up from celebrity chefs David Rocco, Roger Mooking, Gail Simmons and Mark McEwan!
We’ve rolled and sold thousands of lumpia, we’ve expanded our menu, and we’ve built a solid following of lumpia lovers on social media who come out just to see us. We even had three sold out days at this Fall’s Gourmet Food and Wine Expo thanks to our loyal fans. Now we’re ready to take our work to the next level. We want to be able to serve up our food every day for the city that we love.
The first questions we hear after someone has tried our food are, “Where are you located? Where can I find you?”
We’re here to answer the call; We’re moving into a space in the food court at 214 Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market this March! We want people to be able to get their Filipino food fix every day. We’ll have a weekly rotating menu of Filipino classics remixed with a little Caribbean flavour. We want people to come to us when they’re feeling unique, unpretentious, affordable comfort food.
Tito Ron’s, along with amazing support and funding from Futurpreneur Canada, have already put significant funds towards making our dream a reality. We’ve secured the space, we’ve done research and development and solidified our business administration, but there’s still a gap in funding between where we are and where we need to be and we’re hoping that’s where you come in!
We’ve got big plans for the Kickstarter funds; your donations will primarily go toward buying much-needed equipment upgrades and renovations for the space. Small-to-medium sized expenses add up quickly, everything from fryers and cash registers to signs and utensils need to be bought before we can start offering up the food we think Toronto deserves. With your help, we can make sure that Tito Ron’s comes out swinging, offering the best street food around from a facility that’s properly equipped to show you what we can do.
If I’ve learned anything from my experiences building this business, it’s that you really never know when something amazing is about to happen. Who knew growing up eating eggs and spam for breakfast with my mom and dad that it would cultivate a love for food and cooking that would last a lifetime? Who knew when I signed up for Tinder that I would find the man and business partner of my dreams?
My passion for Filipino culture and Filipino food grows every day, along with our hopes and dreams for this business. It grows along with our love for our city and for each other. This venture went from a part-time project to a full-blown business. Mike went from my boyfriend to my fiance. I went from pursuing a paycheque to pursuing a dream. I want Toronto to be a part of my next adventure. Support Tito Ron’s and, I promise, amazing things will happen!
Risks and challenges
We are well aware of the amount of risks and challenges that can arise when planning even a simple takeout counter setup like this.
Once we're funded, we could potentially run into problems with escalating equipment and food costs or difficulties with permits and licensing; not to mention simple lack of traffic. However, Tito Ron's has taken considerable steps to mitigate those risks.
Much of the necessary licensing is already in place and in effect and, by leasing space in an established food court in the heart of Kensington Market, there should be considerable traffic to draw in.
If we should run into further unexpected costs or difficulties, Tito Ron's owners plan to provide personal funds in order to ensure the project is completed.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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