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My parents risked it all on a restaurant that changed my life. We’re risking it all to return the favour.
Restaurants are the heart of every thriving community, offering windows into new cultures, spaces to connect with our neighbours, and meals that nourish our bodies. When a restaurant flourishes, so does its neighbourhood.
Restaurants are the fourth-largest employer in Canada and in the U.S., 1 in 10 Americans are employed in the industry. Restaurants create economic opportunities and provide for countless families—including my own.
My dad came to Montreal, Canada from Sri Lanka in 1983. A refugee of the civil war, he left behind his home and career in search of safety and opportunity. When he arrived in Montreal, he was quickly embraced by a community of restaurant owners eager to hire Tamils, who were earning a reputation for working hard. My dad built a new life in the restaurant community, working his way up from dishwasher to chef.
My dad’s hair, my dad (Tavon) and “Nick” in the 1980s
In 1999, when I was 13, my dad made the decision to open his own restaurant. It was a labour of love and sacrifice, infused with all the wisdom gained in 16 years of industry experience. Our 40-seat restaurant soon became a bustling local spot, and our family was able to move out of co-op housing and into a home of our own in the suburbs.
As a kid, I loved (and hated) working in our family restaurant. From programming the point-of-sale, washing dishes to serving guests. I savoured the diverse and fast-paced environment. Working in the restaurant taught me a lot – most importantly, that there are no shortcuts when it comes to the guest experience.
That belief is the driving force behind Sociavore, which my co-founder (and wife) Amina and I launched in January 2018. Sociavore is a website builder and ecommerce platform for restaurants and food & beverage businesses to grow. Not on social networks but using their own websites with their own brand with a direct relationship with their guests. Sociavore is built around the realities of operating a restaurant and makes it easy to deliver an amazing online guest experience.
We’re proud to power hundreds of restaurants including Michelin-Star chefs, James Beard winners and nominees, new immigrants and their family restaurants and even home cooks. Not to mention the bakers, roasters, chocolatiers, brewers and cooking schools who also run on Sociavore.
We’re growing every single day. We know what it takes to own and operate a successful restaurant, and our mission is to help restaurateurs build profitable, sustainable businesses so that they can achieve their dreams.