Main Street restaurant giving back while keeping staff working
By Toi Creel
While all too many restaurants have been forced to close amid a ban on outdoor dining, one Santa Monica eatery is working overtime to help those who need it most by serving free meals to first responders.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, Papille Gustative (Taste Buds in Latin) restaurant on Main Street has been serving meals to first responders at absolutely no cost. At first, the restaurant–specializing in artisan French and Mediterranean fare with locally sourced ingredients–began serving meals to the Santa Monica Fire Department. Then as requests began rolling in, the restaurant expanded its base of first responders and began providing meals to the Santa Monica Police Department, multiple hospitals and nursing homes, and even local farmers.
“When they come to deliver produce sometimes we give them meals as well,” said Papille Gustative owner Calin Senciac.
Senciac says that in the beginning of the pandemic, all he wanted to do was help people and keep people going.
“It was about the choices: to cut more hours and more employees and to cut ties with our providers (farmers, farmers market) which puts stress on them or to keep it going and to keep 80 percent of our relationships going and keep balance,” Senciac said.
So far Papille Gustative has served hundreds of meals from their menu thanks to donations from the public. The produce is all fresh, coming from local farmers, and fresh flowers are also provided with the food.
Right now they have a GoFundMe set up and are taking donations. Senciac notes that it’s not just about serving local essential workers, but also making sure his employees can work as well guaranteeing them four days a week.
“We try and give them a sense of security. Pretty much everyone working here has a family, kids, their spouse might or might not be working. We try to keep as many people involved so they’re not on the brink of poverty,” Senciac said.
In addition to monetary funds, the restaurant is also looking for volunteers to drive as it does not work with an official food delivery system.
For more information about Papille Gustative visit https://papillegustativela.com/