Eleven months of “an unequal fight against the pandemic” dictated the end of one of the most original projects that had emerged in Lisbon in recent years: the Kitchen Dates, a meeting place in Telheiras, all about the idea of vegan cuisine and no loss. Rui Catalão and Maria Antunes, the founders, announced the decision on their Instagram account on February 9th, stating that they had reached “a point of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion with no return”. However, they guarantee that this is “an end that is not the end”.
They continued to use Instagram and talked to their customers and followers who wanted to encourage them to keep going, even if it did so in other ways. What dictated the end and led to “a day we never expected to arrive so soon,” the two explained, was above all the fact that the pandemic and detention “destroyed the very essence” of what it was originally had planned: “Joining strangers at a table to share food, ideas and experiences. “
With the needs of social distancing, this is no longer possible, which has forced Kitchen Dates to become a takeaway and home delivery place in recent months. For Rui and Maria this, which contributed to such a state of exhaustion with days of “14 to 16” working hours, made the idea of keeping it open no longer made sense.
Rui Catalão and Maria Antunes, the founders of the Kitchen Dates project Miguel Manso
Before the pandemic, “we were in an upward position,” it said in a telephone conversation with Fugas. Still thinking the take-away solution would be quickly outdated, they started it themselves, also accepting shipments from Rui, which of course added to the workload. “By the second delivery, we felt that we were at the breaking point and that it was no longer viable.”
“We never wanted to be just a restaurant and were reduced to that and even more to a take-away place,” they complain. The economic situation even turned out to be sustainable and they were always able to pay the bills despite the inevitable loss (one of the principles they applied was not to go into debt and only equity and income from the crowdfunding campaign to use that was started) of revenue. Which, as they point out, has only proven that a project like Kitchen Dates, which relies on not having a trash can and working in close proximity to local producers who follow the same philosophy, is possible in Portugal.
They will close their doors at the end of February, but they have already promised to stay present in another way, namely through online workshops. “We see ourselves as a food literacy project that had a space. Lately the restaurant page has been overlapping with everything else but this has been just one of the ways we have available for carrying out these projects. “
Next time it will be to “catch your breath” because “when you invest so much in a project like this and you wake up in the morning and the only thing you want is to put your head in the pillow and be there for a Remaining different A number of hours is the moment when changes are required. ”