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Full House at Chicago's 2nd KK!

It has been almost an entire month since Karma Kitchen Chicago had its successful launch.  The past month has been filled with anticipation, excitement, and ideas about how to push Karma Kitchen Chicago to the extreme!  After numerous discussions, implementation, and action, it was finally time for Chicagoans to experience the second Karma Kitchen! 

Going into the day, we were not sure what to expect out of our second event.  Would the second Karma Kitchen be met with as much hype and eagerness as the launch was?  Would we have as many guests attend?  Would the process be smoother?  Would we receive return guests?  As our volunteers arrived at Klay Oven that morning, whispers of predictions and hopes began filling the restaurant.  Only time would tell...

Learning from last time about how important it is to make sure the volunteers were fueled up with food and ready to go, we decided to serve the volunteers their lunches prior to the doors opening at the end of the volunteer orientation.  Although many volunteers had the opportunity to take advantage of their early lunches, others had to leave their hot plates of delicious food to jump into action and tend to guests arriving right as the clock struck noon. 

Within 30 minutes of the Karma Kitchen doors opening, the entire restaurant was filled and it stayed filled throughout the entire 3 hours!  A bird's eye view would show guests chatting with one another, volunteers in their blue t-shirts hustling around the restaurant and communicating with other volunteers, and everyone in the vicinity having a great time!  One goal of the volunteers this time around was to utilize the tag box items a little more in order to push their boundaries of generosity.  We even had one volunteer who acted as the Karma Kitchen "mascot" as she stood outside the restaurant handing out fliers and informing people about the core concepts of Karma Kitchen.  This clearly paid off as more and more guests began coming in, including random people who had never heard of Karma Kitchen, who were not planning on going out for lunch that day, and who had never even tried Indian food before! 

Once again, as the day came to a close and the final guests exited from the restaurant, the enthusiasm and signs of a successful day resonated amongst all volunteers.  The numbers spoke for themselves as the Chicago team had stepped it up from the 108 guests at their first Karma Kitchen to 138 at this second event! 

As the volunteers began the clean up process, everyone knew that their lives had been positively impacted from the past few hours.  From connecting with guests to explaining and embodying the underlying concepts of Karma Kitchen, each and every volunteer had truly pushed their generosity that day.  Seeing how the clean up process was filled with laughs, jokes, and a comfort level which may have given the impression that we had all been friends since birth, it is safe to say that the relationships built that day went beyond the guests! 

Each and every volunteer performed their role to the fullest extent possible and constantly looked for ways to add more value and to help out beyond their roles.  We even had our first injury in the form of broken glass cutting a volunteer (good thing he signed that volunteer waiver...j/k!).  The response to this injury: a smiling face, downplaying the injury, and getting right back to work! 

What had started as a team of 16 volunteers that day ended in a team of approximately 20 volunteers as guests offered their services right on the spot by helping with clean up, dishes, and resetting tables! 

One of the goals of Karma Kitchen is to inspire; however, we sometimes overlook the element of actually being inspired by participating in the process.  Inspiration is found in every corner and every soul participating in the Karma Kitchen experience.  Judging by the feedback from both the guests and the volunteers, it is clear that all participants in this experiment found inspiration in one way or another! 

See you on September 12, 2010!

--Anish on Aug 11, 2010

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