A Guelph couple whose dream of being restaurant owners hit a roadblock when COVID-19 hit have found a way to make something good of the situation.
Danielle Davidson and her husband Wessel Engelbrecht purchased Robusta Cafe & Lounge on Macdonell Street March 16 as part of Davidson’s life-long dream to own and manage her own restaurant after working as a manager at The Keg for a number of years.
But after the provincial government’s mandate to only allow take out orders, they decided to supply a variety of healthy and tasty meals to Lakeside HOPE House instead.
“We came in and we had to switch right away,” said Davidson who delivers a weekly supply of 225 meals to HOPE House.
She and her team have been preparing chicken wraps, soups, flatbreads and breakfast sandwiches to deliver to HOPE House every Monday morning. This week was their third order.
She said her landlord reached out to her mid-March and offered her an opportunity to fill food donation orders for HOPE House's food market that supports vulnerable members of the population.
The funds for the food were then sponsored by the Tricar Group, who own the Riverhouse Condominium building that Robusta is part of.
“It was really clever because it was such a full circle,” said Davidson. “They were helping us and we were both helping HOPE House.”
She said giving back to the community especially in a caring city like Guelph is crucially important to her because of the positive support she always felt in the community.
She said a number of people have called the restaurant over the past few weeks saying they can’t come right now because of the pandemic but look forward to coming when the crisis is over.
“We were really welcomed with open arms in the community and it’s in our nature to want to give back,” said Davidson adding that a few weeks ago they weren’t in a position to financially help the community the way they are helping now and it is because of her landlord’s financial support that they were able to work together.
“Everyone keeps saying we’re in it together and it’s so true. We are in it together and we must support each other.”
Davidson said she understands that business ownership is never easy and one has to just take what is thrown at them.
“We just have to do what we can. We take it day by day and try to figure out a way to adjust with what’s going on,” said Davidson adding that her team now uses the bar as an assembly line to prepare meals which catches the attention of anyone who walks in to pick up a take-out order.
“It’s such a pleasant experience.”