Kitchener's new pop-up restaurant spotlights local chefs, vendors


KITCHENER -- The Underground Flavour Group is on a mission to highlight local talent in what’s been a difficult year for many businesses.The group's pop-up restaurant in downtown Kitchener features a rotating lineup of chefs, which means new dishes to try each day of the week."The menu is always different. Lots of different kinds of food that I don’t normally get to see unless we are at a multicultural festival," said customer Eba Przybyla.

The group opened the location at 305 King St.W back in December, as Waterloo Region inched closer to another lockdown."We decided to do this in a very difficult time, because we found the industry was really suffering and a lot of the chefs were suffering financially," said Arnold Yescas, founder of Underground Flavour Group.The concept for the restaurant focuses on takeout food and serving customers safely.

Theo Myrie, chef and owner of Irie Myrie's Caribbean Catering Company, had to close his food truck last March and is grateful to have a physical location to sell his dishes. "With this, Underground Flavour putting everything together, it was just like, that was awesome! I can still reach out to the community and people will love my food," he said. The group keeps a portion of the chefs’ sales revenue, instead of charging them a flat fee. 

Using the same model to showcase locally-made goods in their space. "Vendors don’t have to pay right away, so they have a chance to actually make money," said Nicole Maynard-Li, product manager for Underground Flavour Group. A decision that is not lost on customers who enjoy tasting flavours from around the world, while supporting people that live in their backyard."You know you’re supporting a lot of locals, that might not necessarily get the same attention in public," added Przybyla.