About this project
HELP US CRUSH THE FINISH LINE
We are so overwhelmed by all the generous support from the community. Kickstarter has been an amazing experience and we want to thank all of you for it.
We've found a space in Toronto that's fully equipped and a turnkey operation, but to acquire the lease we need a bit more funding to secure the space.
This means our goal of being open early Fall is achievable! It also means we're setting new STRETCH GOALS!
Stretch Goals are a Win-Win Situation
We're setting a stretch goal of $40,000 to help us secure this space but it's not all about us! If we reach 40k we're also giving a First Edition Loka Trucker Hat to everyone who pledged $100 or more.
We still have a number of seats available before Loka opens as well as opening night. So please tell all your friends, this isn't just pledging in hope that a restaurant will open, you've made Loka happen, and now we're so excited to work out the details!
Who The Hell Is Chef Rouge Anyway?
I arrived back in Toronto just over a year ago almost completely unknown, aside from Instagram where I'm known as Chef Rouge. I hadn't cooked in this province for nearly 15 years.
I finished cooking school in Ontario and moved out West, stayed there for 7 years and then moved to PEI to learn everything I could about seafood.
There I made the closest connection I’ve ever had to food and ingredients. I opened an amazing restaurant on the island called Terre Rouge but felt it was time to come back home to Ontario.
When I returned to Toronto a year ago I was searching for the same connection to ingredients and the people growing them, but struggled to find a kitchen that had the same connection or people who had the same food values as I did.
So I risked it all and went out on my own to open Loka Snacks. I wanted to highlight food that is locally sourced, raised and produced around us. I am a kitchen of one and my girlfriend serves the food.
The concept is based on Canadian ingredients presented in the simplest way. We’re currently in the back of a bar but we didn’t want to just serve typical bar snacks like chicken wings or sliders.
Our focus has been and always will be zero waste, to use every part of the animal, vegetable or anything we purchase. We use secondary cuts because we want to show respect to the animal for its life, for these are parts that a lot of people just throw into the garbage.
What The Hell Is Loka Snacks?
We have been running Loka Snacks for nearly a year as a pop-up, and what a year it has been! We started one night a week then quickly added nights so we're now at four nights in the back of a bar.
We've had reservation requests from people out of town, in the United States and in Europe. We've been featured in Eater and Toronto Life, named in BlogTO as one of Toronto's best hidden restaurants and I was also recently named one of 20 Canadian Chefs to follow on Instagram by the Huffington Post.
It's been a wild ride and we're ready to evolve from pop-up to a bricks and mortar restaurant, it's time to take the dining experience to the next level.
Current Loka Snacks Menu - Changes Weekly
For those of you who haven’t had the chance yet to experience Loka Snacks, here is our current menu. The above menu hopefully gives you a peek inside my vision of food and the food I love to make. You can also find more on Instagram.
What Does the Name 'Loka' Mean?
It was a crazy idea to leave a steady salary and run a pop-up focused on local food. We launched in September without any funding but we did have a credit card, time and experience. So for the last ten months we’ve made a home in the back of Hilo bar, moving from that one pop-up to a 4 night a week residency.
We didn’t have money to promote or advertise but we did have time to reach out and share Loka Snacks on social media. In the beginning we went old school and postered the neighbourhood with Loka Snacks menu items. We did whatever it took to get our name out and it worked.
People say Instagram and social media is a waste of time, but we’ve been able to connect with people around the world who share our values and want to try our food. Now Loka Snacks the pop-up is ready to evolve and become Loka the restaurant.
Loka – The Restaurant
The plan is to open a small, 25-30 seat restaurant with an open concept that could be called a modern diner – cooking in front of guests behind a bar. You can ask questions, or just sit back and relax.
The philosophy is always food first. We want people to feel the connection to everything we serve, the farmers, producers and amazing artisans in Canada. It’s important for us to know where our food is coming from and we want our diners to feel the same when they come in and eat.
We will also offer cooking classes where guests can sit at the bar and ask questions and really begin to understand and appreciate ingredients.
Loka won’t be taking reservations except through Kickstarter rewards, we have some exclusive offers for reservations but otherwise we’ll seat diners as they come.
What Kind Of Food Will You Serve?
The food isn’t changing, it’s always been Canadian ingredient-driven small sharing plates at a reasonable price. We're not strictly 100km so don't shoot us for using olive oil.
Our focus will always be on supporting local producers and sharing what we believe is Canadian food. We’ll continue to use secondary cuts and feature plated in house cured charcuterie.
You can come and eat the whole menu or order individual plates.
I’ve been cooking for nearly 20 years, but this last year has been completely untraditional. I took a leap and worked hard, using everything I’ve learned cooking from coast to coast across this amazing country.
And now I’m continuing the untraditional path with Kickstarter.
This isn’t a charity. I’m not asking for a donation. Funding this project means you get rad rewards and exclusive culinary experiences.
You can help to make my dream a reality. With a goal of 25k I can begin to look for a permanent home for Loka here in Toronto, and create a comfortable inviting space where people can come and eat great food and have an awesome time.
Throughout the campaign we'll send our backers special recipes, culinary tricks and video updates.
Risks and challenges
With Loka, we're operating on a small budget which is contingent on finding the right space in Toronto. We're currently working with a great real estate agent but it could take time to find a former bar in the right neighbourhood that can be renovated into Loka.
Our goal is to open late October but we can't guarantee the opening in three months as construction brings many variables. However, we will send out the t-shirts and E-books by early September.
Having opened successful restaurants in the past I know that openings can be delayed due to construction, permits, inspections etc.
However through all of this we will continue to operate Loka Snacks out of Hilo Bar until we are close enough to opening.
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