The family-owned restaurant who received 2020’s California Small Business of the Year award, has recently opened a new location in downtown Isla Vista.
Kyle’s Kitchen, a comfort food fast-casual restaurant opened their fourth location on October 6th. This business blended their love for food and special needs philanthropy when creating the concept of Kyle’s Kitchen in 2015. The family’s sixteen-year-old son, Kyle, inspired this concept and represents the face of the company.
Emily Kadri, the marketing manager at Kyle’s Kitchen, explained that Kyle was born with an undiagnosed brain injury and has had to work really hard to get to where he is today in terms of mobility and speech. Kyle resembles the perfect special needs ambassador as he is very social and loves greeting customers with a big hug and a smile.
Pre-covid, Kyle would visit the different locations a few times a week which became “such a big part of the restaurant,” Kadri said. He loves to sit and chat with the customers and brings such a calming and positive presence whenever he’s there. Recently, Kyle has been making fewer appearances as he’s doing his part and quarantining, but Kadri says that he’s “so looking forward to getting back out there.”
As far as the family’s main goals for Kyle’s Kitchen, one, in particular, was to educate customers and the community on those with special needs. They communicate and bring awareness to the fact that the special needs spectrum is extremely vast. This message has allowed Kyle and many others like him to reach their potential since they are able to have a safe space to express themselves, socialize, and make friends.
It’s evident that Kyle’s condition has not stopped him from giving back to others and making a huge positive impact within his community. Philanthropy was another one of the family’s ambitions for the restaurant. Since opening in 2015, Kyle’s Kitchen has given back over $200,000 to local special needs organizations. They have worked with over 30 local special needs partners and are always looking to extend their helping hand to other organizations within this community.
As COVID-19 has taken a toll on everyone, it has especially impacted families that have members with special needs. Many regular support services that give these children structure or care have been canceled or reduced which forces parents out of work and into their homes. Not to mention, people with special needs have a compromised immune system making it easier for them to get sick.
Knowing these added difficulties from first-hand experience, Kyle’s Kitchen has worked hard to help feed other local special needs families during this time. They have now reached 5,000 family members with both children and adults that have special needs and have donated almost 1,000 free meals to these families.
In order to continue helping this community, Kyle’s Kitchen is creating exciting new aspects that cater to the Isla Vista locals. Kadri shared that within the next month they plan on launching a Kyle’s Kitchen App which will highlight a new rewards program with easier and cheaper online ordering and delivery.
“Eat Great Food. Help Great People” is their slogan and it’s clearly true. Next time you’re in downtown Isla Vista, don’t forget to come into Kyle’s and find out what you’re missing! Maybe one day you’ll be able to meet Kyle himself.