Chef and co-owner Alex Lavroff says they’re confident they can weather the new restaurant restrictions in B.C. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

Chef and co-owner Alex Lavroff says they’re confident they can weather the new restaurant restrictions in B.C. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

As eateries close amid health orders, Kelowna restaurant opens with new approach

‘I got very inspired by the fact that I knew that restaurants wouldn’t be the same for a very long time’

When opening a new eatery, owners hope that people will stay, enjoy their time, and come again.

But not the people behind Kalamansi, a new takeout-style eatery in The District, downtown on Bernard Avenue.

Chef and co-owner Alex Lavroff said they pitched the idea for Kalamansi to investors in the middle of the pandemic, as many restaurants and eateries struggled to stay afloat.

While it was a daunting task, Lavroff said he felt driven to move forward with his vision.

“I got very inspired by the fact that I knew that restaurants wouldn’t be the same for a very long time,” he said.

“I just wanted to try to do something that was fitting in with the changes, maybe slightly ahead of the curve.”

Instead of opening a traditional sit-down restaurant with a dine-in experience, he instead wanted to open a healthy takeout counter to evolve within the industry while filling a gap in food options.

Lavroff said their goal is to offer a healthy fast-food option, serving up fresh food around the same time it takes for you to get a burger from a fast-food chain.

“I find a lot of times I go out and eat, and then I just feel full and sick afterwards,” he said.

“What we’re always trying to think about, our main thing, is how do you feel after your meal is done? Our whole focus is giving you that boost for the rest of the day.”

The restaurant gets its name from a Southeast Asian citrus fruit, most often found in the Philippines and Indonesia. Lavroff said kalamansi is one of his favourite fruits to incorporate in his cooking, given its fresh citrus flavour.

“I’ve been studying citrus for years, and it’s starting to define my cooking.”

“Here at Kalamansi, we like to play around with acidity and citrus to tie our flavours together instead of heavy sauces.”

Lavroff said since they opened just a week ago, it’s difficult to tell how they’ll do in the next little while — especially with new provincial health orders placing more strain on the service industry.

“Fingers crossed, we’ve designed ourselves to be successful through the pandemic, especially if any more shutdowns happen.”

Moving forward, it’s still a little too early to say what’s next for the Kalamansi team, but Lavroff said they plan to open other locations, hoping to give new meaning to Kelowna’s fast-food chain landscape.

To find out more about Kalamansi, check out their website.

READ: Central Okanagan restaurant owners frustrated following indoor dining ban


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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