Inna Khitrik

Inna Khitrik‘s Dream: To Connect Through Jewish Cuisine (#6)

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Our Guest Today: Inna Khitrik

Newton, MA – Meet Inna Khitrik (right) and her son Alex Khitrik (left).  Inna is a very special guest on feisworld podcast, for two reasons. 1) She’s the first female guest on my show. 2) Inna is a restaurant owner, but not just any restaurant. She owns my personal favorite restaurant, Inna’s Kitchen.  A Jewish deli with the kind of food I can eat all day long. This special episode was recorded inside her kitchen.

I grew up in a foodie family. Both of my parents are experts in their own cuisine. Dad was Cantonese (from Southern Part of China) and mom grew up in Beijing (a Mandarin cook). As a family, food was an everyday topic and my parents “competed” with one another on cooking. As an only child and to make sure I didn’t break their hearts, they often tied for first place. Inna can relate to my story. Growing up, she recalls seeing dozens of friends over at her house for spontaneous feasts.

Inna grew up in Russia. She and her family traveled to various parts of the world (including Israel) before settling down in the United States in mid 1980’s. She has worked at many restaurants, provided food for under-served neighborhoods, and has been mastering cooking since she was a little girl.

In this episode, Inna talks about starting her dream business – a kitchen with her name on it, a kitchen that specializes in homemade Jewish cuisine, everything from scratch, no cheating anywhere.

To name a few of my favorite dishes – shakshuka, potato latkas with fried eggs on top, sabih (egg and eggplant sandwich). If you are a fan of falafel, you are in luck and make sure to try Inna’s falafel plate and beef kofta plate. Their most popular dish is, of course, the chicken matzo ball soup. Delicious!

Beyond the foodie talk, Inna opens her heart about the making of a restaurant. If you ever thought about running your own restaurant or coffee shop,  tune in on lessons learned, as well as success tips and tricks.<

Select Links, Callouts From the Episode:

Show Notes (Times Are Approximate):

  • Most popular dishes at Inna’s Kitchen [5:00]
  • Cooking and catering during Jewish holidays [8:00]
  • Lessons learned in owning a restaurant business, or any business [10:00]
  • Inna’s Kitchen on Facebook, Yelp – marketing strategy for the business and learning through data [12:00]
  • Tips and advice for people who want to run their own restaurant businesses [12:00]
  • Inna’s cooking for her family at home [21:30]
  • Family-style cooking class at Inna’s home & how to organize workshops [26:15]
  • What would Inna say to her 20-year old self? [31:10]
  • Inna’s mentor and the tipping point for her to open Inna’s Kitchen [34:00]
  • Food as a basic human need and how it connects people [41:00]
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Intro 0:00
Welcome to the Feisworld podcast, engaging conversations that crossed the boundaries between business art and the digital world.

Fei Wu 0:15
Welcome to episode number six of the Feisworld Podcast. I’m super excited about the guest I have for you today. Her name is Ina for two reasons. Okay. So she is the first female interviewee I have on the show. And the second reason is, Ina is a restaurant owner. But not just any restaurant. She owns my personal favorite restaurant called Enos kitchen, a Jewish deli with cuisine that I can eat all day long. This special episode was recorded inside the very kitchen. I grew up in a foodies family. Both of my parents cooked a ton. And they’re both experts in their own cuisine. Dad was Cantonese from southern part of China. And my mom grew up in Beijing. So she’s a mandarin cook. As a family food was a common topic every day and my parents, quote unquote, competed with one another and cooking as an only child and to make sure I didn’t break their hearts. They oftentimes for first place either can really relate to my story, she said, growing up, she recall seeing dozens of friends coming over to our parents house for spontaneous feasts. Both of her parents cooked a lot, and especially her grandma either grew up in Russia, she and her family traveled to various parts of the world, including Israel before settling in the United States in mid 80s. She has worked at restaurant businesses, underserved neighborhoods, and a ton of experience in cooking since she was a little girl. In this episode, Ina talks about starting her dream business about three years ago in May 2011. A kitchen with her name on it that specializes in homemade Jewish cuisine. Everything made from scratch, no cheating anywhere. So to name a few of my favorite dishes. If you ever get a chance to visit, make sure you try Shakshuka potato lockers with fried egg on top sebe which is marinated egg plans with veggies spices and a boiled egg. If you’re a fan of falafel, you’re in luck and make sure to try inas falafel plate. Beef cops the plate and of course last but not least, their most popular chicken matzah ball soup and all the other things on the menu delicious. We don’t just talk about the food part by the way, in a really opens her heart up about the making of a restaurant. If you ever thought about opening one up yourself one day restaurant or coffee shop, tune in on the success tips and tricks including one important but also very difficult decisions you might have to make. Also enough pull out her cookbook from the 1950s What’s not to love about in his kitchen next time you’re in town make sure you stop buying this kitchen located in the heart of Newton center Massachusetts. I’m drooling just by thinking about the restaurant right now. So I hope all of you enjoy this casual conversation between Ina and me

Inna Khitrik 3:43
this is my life I love the cooking and I have like no limitation here first of all I think

that place which we did the business before was a lot of limitations. And there was no personality and either the Jewish cooking when I show that so that show ship rate went to the given to the place a huge place where they make important pastrami is making everything from scratch this this is what I did that all my life at home I saw that that’s how we grew up. You know like this is what they think what they believe. Yeah,

Fei Wu 4:26
this is this The kitchen is you as your name attached to it. And I think really, even though I don’t really know all that well on a personal level I have a feeling that this everything about this a kitchen, about this kitchen, your staff members included are a very accurate reflection of who you are yourself. So I wonder there are a few questions that have accumulated one which is I love all the food. I mean I could just come in one day with my eyes closed but I wonder given this community, your regular customers what Are some of the most popular like favorite dishes, if you could remember where they’re kind of, you know, equal because chicken multiple soup chicken multiples. Yeah.

Inna Khitrik 5:11
People love the flavor. They come in some other neighborhoods as well. Falafel our data showed which is not always that accurate because once we have icon now it’s much easier if

Unknown Speaker 5:32
you use square. Yeah. Yeah, that’s great.

Inna Khitrik 5:35
We have the names and everything. That and that’s it that shows how much you sell. So convenient. Falafel will be number one seller of the chicken soup and corned beef and pastrami. Oh, yeah, everything else is coming along. Like we’ve been with Armenia. Like I said, from the beginning, I try this, listen that and see what I want to say as much so much in this case, which we don’t really have that much room. And then we figured what sells more. You don’t want to pay somebody who’s going to go two ways.

Unknown Speaker 6:14
Did you predict that these three are going to be the top three customers?

Inna Khitrik 6:19
Think of that? I don’t know. I thought they will show this this and that last. falafel is not something I grew up with. It’s just a very sad this part of the world. Which lots of Jewish people that in and my family’s in. So it’s like my home anyway. And I love that. But when I was going to Israel always to try so they know what my sister said, No, you eat falafel only this place. This is a one which we like. And we are in a different place. And sometimes you stop for lunch they also different. Yeah, yeah, I

Unknown Speaker 6:54
noticed that you are working downtown. Yes. Falafel King. Pizza Time. These are some of my favorites when I’m at work, but tastes very different.

Inna Khitrik 7:01
They still live in shape. Yeah, I’m just this giant involves lovely ones. In other words, just more yellow and green. So I was playing with different ones different recipes and over the people wanting to recreate something which my sister would go and say this is the best. And something that they like. Took us another year to get actually theta, which was so once we change the meat to kosher Yeah, that’s what we’re able to get into. Because it’s comes from Israel. Yeah. shipped from New York. So that’s how we get a big

Unknown Speaker 7:41
supplier. It was amazing. Mr. Kwan, the business partner I mentioned earlier, it desperately seeking to get the pita bread and makes me laugh every sometimes

Inna Khitrik 7:50
I don’t know. Like around the holidays. Now I know what extra please adjust for that. Yeah, because last holidays in on a juicer the company is not working. And the shipment is always good to open up. Yeah. So you’d have to have plenty in stock.

Unknown Speaker 8:05
Now you mentioned Jewish holidays. And we’ll definitely talk about catering as well, which is a little bit different. I remember from just a couple of months ago, there are a few major Jewish holidays and the scene within the kitchen. Yeah, Rosh Hashanah and the one after that you don’t keep room for Yeah. And I remember customers will line up here in this deli, and I remember them picking up to me, maybe at 100 pounds, and then kind of like finish up in their car. And how many What was that time like? And you know, it’s very intense.

Inna Khitrik 8:46
It’s very intense because you have to operate the data at the normal schedule. Which is I think our customer already know customer. Already people know around the holidays don’t come in for lunch because even we trying to create with people pay for the food. And we asking them We given them a specific time to pick up bugs here and there. Somebody’s going to show up with a late because they pick up was at 10 o’clock they come in as well. Which is great. Yeah, big problem. Like you don’t want you know, everything. things happens.

Unknown Speaker 9:20
We just like traffic jam, right? You can never protect

Inna Khitrik 9:22
young people just show up by getting the attack pick up time when they write in lunchtime. Yeah, but it’s very intense to prepare for that. We get every year we get a little smarter. And I have learned to say no. Yeah, at some point. Yes. Source competitive deadlines, which before you know, like you need the business. How can you say no to the customer who comes in and support you all year round? And they leave with an order. And you’re gonna say no to that like, it’s like, it’s great. I can’t do that. But it was a boy That, I think two years ago, I was I had to work 20 hours a day, in order to fulfill my orders, which is out the door, it was a bustle, which I thought, Okay, I have a cell phone, which people pick up for tomorrow. But those people is today and they can always cook for tomorrow, not realizing whether they are going to be ending in another starts. And so I know that they have time to cook. But in that moment, I remember I saw once and they sit down and I look how much production I have to do. For next day. I had to cry.

Unknown Speaker 10:38
Yeah, it’s kind of having

Inna Khitrik 10:40
this. This was a restaurant for me. Because it was literally 20 hours. I live nearby. So I went home to sleep a few hours, which I don’t know if I slept or not, because I had to wake up for the day, like at three o’clock in the morning to come in and fulfill this orders. But I don’t have to

Unknown Speaker 11:00
say no, no, so me do what’s like,

Inna Khitrik 11:03
time. Yeah. And then I know I will. I have another week if I see what people read that when I sit down and I see if I can produce that much they think

Unknown Speaker 11:14
so in comparison to Jewish holiday, which is very demanding. And a lot of people I know that typically Jewish families who invite many others, and that’s why the food always comes in such a huge volumes. It’s not just for their own family, in comparison is catering business a little bit easier for you. I know you guys have a very thought out catering business, is it as tough or is actually a lot easier? Easier?

Inna Khitrik 11:39
Wouldn’t it be easier? We just didn’t do that business yet. Since three and a half years, it’s not such a big time for the business. It’s takes at least five years. What the people are saying to start to actually get your name out there. Yeah, like this is our goal right now to have more orders would have a que de microcarpa. It depends lunches, which we’re doing some but we can produce way more. Yeah, that’s you know, our place is so small, we can see only like real people in here. So that easily I can do with the stuff that we have right now. And if I have the order the day before I can plan it out. Enough, we can produce some other sandwich plotters, Ukrainian partners, from Apple, which is usually what offices are ordered.

Unknown Speaker 12:36
So we talked about awareness and marketing of the business. And I would, you know, I argue that for the quality of the food, how friendly the staff members and how responsive everybody is. And it speaks for itself. This is a brand and a business that truly speaks for itself for its super high quality service. Right now you guys are searchable on Facebook, you had mentioned that you benefit you’re learning about Facebook community on your own. What are some of the other channels what people also expect to be able to find you are you guys anywhere else on the internet?

Inna Khitrik 13:14
Usually what how people find us is through Yelp. If I just search in the Yelp was the biggest, I think brings us more customers. Because we have a very high views and yeah, and whenever anybody search was I’m not in depth. I’m not a technical person. I didn’t know the phone for me like I got my touchscreen. On just I think last year yeah. Like I still have dial. Yeah. So for me all this technology. This is all Alex’s side. But I know that people coming over when we ask somebody we didn’t see before we keep asking, Is it your first time here, you know, likes to know how they find us? Yes. What’s nice? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 14:00
that’s very smart. By the way, just speaking from my business background, because we’re a business where you don’t have hundreds of 1000s of people travel, in which case it’s very hard to address each person. When a new customer walks in. I think it’s very critical to ask that question. How did you find us? And I would argue that in addition to how if the answer is online, well, we’re online. Was it our official website?

Inna Khitrik 14:25
We are usually asking, What did you go? Yeah. What was your search term? Yeah. For people searching just for lunch, you just get Google lunch in Newton. Gonna pop up? Yeah. Because, you know, like, what you’re eating is Hi. Can you put you on top? Yeah. So that’s what we’re really grateful for existed. Yeah, that’s,

Unknown Speaker 14:49
that’s great. And this is all very insightful, especially for people. You know, there are many people out there thinking about opening restaurants, but it’s As by watching or having friends who own the restaurant business we owe, I mean, personally, I know how much work there is. And I know, especially for Chinese restaurant owners in Chinatown, or outside of Chinatown, people do work, you know, 20 or so hours every day, some other restaurants open till 10:11pm As if nightmare, right? So what is your advice to people who are thinking about opening a restaurant of any kind, we don’t really have time to go dive into

Inna Khitrik 15:27
it, most of all, you have to know what you have to be the cook. You have to know the food. Because what I see people fail. Like, there was a place here, everybody to go to that place. And I actually look at as example for the place maybe about 10 years ago, so maybe a little bit on the landlady room. And it was completely kosher. I think Julius can pay I walked in there once it was so beautiful, completely supervised, or kosher in that center, right in the center of everything should be successful. But when I was looking to other people and realize like when they close down, and it goes one and a half years, I think. And the reason is what some people tell me, like a biker was trying to convince me to go completely kosher. And I always say, How come this business hasn’t been? You know, like, people who started dogs did not support that business. So it was so needed, there is no main person here. And he said they the owner wasn’t the chef. So she hired professional chefs. She hired everyone you can look just oversee the business unless you have a millions of dollars to put in. I have thought I’m on a very low budget. We don’t We did not inherit anything. Yeah, this is an earn money, which we put in the business and I risk everything. It’s not like I have invested which is okay $100,000 or more $100,000 less. For me it’s a lot of money. And that’s why I think you have to be able to first of all, you have to know all the jobs involved in the business. So you need to know everything and your dishwasher. Step one was other than just believing you have to know how to solve that problem. Something breaks you have to be I think you have to be hands on. Maybe I’m wrong. But I think

Unknown Speaker 17:38
that’s that’s a critical feedback, which I didn’t think of myself, I assume one of the critical part is you have to be willing to work hard and then to your point, just by working hard alone is not enough. I think the knowledge behind the interest in cooking the fact that you’ve cooked your whole life you have observed your parents and I think you are very conditioned to working hard

Inna Khitrik 18:05
to have some people saying that they have a certain face box check No, I think I have a normal one you face that being said that you kind of read the recipe and you figure it out is going to go together or not. So this way you can adjust something don’t have all regions maybe you can come up with something else. But you definitely in business running the business. I think those will have to create something and teach people how to create that. Then you can take it easy a little bit. So if I was like I want to be our teachers to be unique like my staff can which is different from anybody else. Because it is it’s like my family was making but a little bit adjusted to American face. Yeah, because my mom would never make it sweet. She doesn’t eat any raisin and she made with the maintenance but doesn’t sugar is not involved in there on raisins. She would say are you crazy with raisins?

Unknown Speaker 19:09
Yeah, it’s like Japanese people say stuff cabbage, you know, how could you put sugar in green tea? If you go to Japan and then he asked for sugar for your green tea. They will they will not they will not do it for you. But I I’m a fan of one other local restaurant but one of the things I don’t like as much is I like your kitchen much better than all the other local restaurant but say when you’re closed. I you know I go to Johnny’s election net and I’ve been there for years and I do like certain things from there and especially the sweet potato fries. But unfortunately for me the chicken possible soup sometime it’s too salty and I don’t really taste the essence of chicken anymore. And one or the other. My favorite dish over there which I don’t like as much anymore is what he just mentioned the stuffed cabbage. It’s way too sweet for me that I feel like I could taste the ketchup like ketchup. It’s that sweet. Whereas I tried to stuffed cabbage for the first time, a few weeks ago. And I was completely in love. And other another reason I was running out of things I haven’t tried yet your kitchen, I think tasted everything. And I yet to find anything that’s even slightly disappointing. And, you know, John, you

Inna Khitrik 20:25
actually come in for lunch now here since he sold his place. John, John. John, from January. You saw Oh, he sold his business last year. I think you’re wonders now, if he comes for lunch here. My son didn’t know he was like he was all that in. And I think you’re the cup of wash last time and a half a sandwich. They said, Jerry, what are you doing that said he’s writing almost four years in business. So that for me was kind of a compliment. Compliment is coming and eating my food.

Unknown Speaker 21:03
Yeah. And I, this is so fascinating. And you know, best of luck to the restaurant at all. I to respect your time. I have two more questions, if that’s okay with you. So, one thing that really made me curious is when I practice yoga, and I still do on a regular basis, and you know, we go to classes, when you when I go through my teacher certificate, I have to do all these twisting motions, and the most difficult moves from these amazing, extraordinary teachers. And then after class, I will ask them, male or female, what do you practice at home? And oftentimes, the teachers that, oh, I don’t do any of these advanced moves. You know, they will tell me they’ve been doing yoga all their lives, and they do the most simple, they practice the most simple moves and make it the most they get just as much out of them. So my question back to you is, what do you cook at home for yourself? For your family? And we’ll talk about your kids in a second because you did tell me they demand cheeseburger. So let’s talk about what for yourself before talking about your three children.

Inna Khitrik 22:09
Three children anymore. The one the comfort, which I like we open for lunch, for dinner. And my comfort food and my kids always love. It’s a big fight. It’s like the hamburger, but it’s not the hamburgers, ground meat with onion, celery and garlic. And you fried like hamburger advice is like that. But that’s less the case. Like little things with mashed potatoes with some salad in our traditional salad. Even we did not grow up kosher, and I would eat the meat. And I don’t offer that here. Most people ask for that. But at home I like to have a salad with tomatoes and cucumber with the sound. Yeah. So that’s the easiest thing or just my family likes chicken, just the drumstick drumsticks so sometime in the four o’clock and closing, I drive by the whole foods, I pick up some drumsticks or whatever. Usually I don’t even plan what are you going to cook? I stopped by and I see okay, what they have on sale today. What kind of meat what something was something we’ll dive in a look up for. You know, like, I’ve been always around my family that you cannot you know, like, kind of wish the budget doesn’t matter. I can buy like I just don’t like to plan that way. I’m going to see whatever’s on sale. And I’m figuring out on my way home what they’re going to make with that. So what they like like just the most some of those chicken with the sauces, or that’s the most popular thing. Just the cabinets when I have to go away and I prepare my freezer for the family. So that’s going to be chicken schnitzel. The sweet part is beef or turkey. Meatballs. What they love and dish salad salads traditionally fried now we might go to a white flesh page so with a card or something like that. Very simple. Cells pepper,

Unknown Speaker 24:29
flour and try Yeah. Interesting. Brilliant.

Inna Khitrik 24:34
Private data’s I love the model. Yeah. So potatoes mashed potatoes, fried potatoes and potato Marcus them who they adore if I know I don’t have time. I grabbed some from here. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 24:47
That’s great. And it’s so lucky that cooking can be so fun but sometimes can feel like such a chore for people who work full time and you know what’s healthy to cook? Yeah, at the end of the day. Do I want to spend $20 And here are your kitchen 20 $30 and go a long way for a party of two who tastes delicious. And honestly, it’s hard for me to make an argument to say today I’m gonna cook at home and clean while dishes.

Inna Khitrik 25:14
I make them clean sometimes. That’s what I don’t like to. Yeah, like, bro. I like to have parties in the house. But what I only look like after everything. Yeah, I love cooking. everybody the same thing. You want to go home and cook. Do you? Love it? annexation? Yes. Yeah, I can still. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 25:41
this is good to know.

Inna Khitrik 25:43
I know. But somebody else when I clean up my day. Oh,

Unknown Speaker 25:48
yeah. Interesting. So maybe I will ask you to cook for me sometimes. Where I just

Inna Khitrik 25:56
come here. And it’s all like, if I would make those glasses, I was asking how’s your glasses? Oh, chicken was able to get the cooking classes. And I’m waiting for my kitchen. I want to do it at home. Because it’s because of the poll I did to show people how to do more than the professional kitchen. Yeah. Yeah, then we can sit down and have a glass of wine, a home environment. And my kitchen design pretty good. So I just waited for finishing. All this remind them of which we’re doing in the house right

Unknown Speaker 26:37
now. Yeah. Well, when does your family dinner table event going to start? I want to make sure my name is first name.

Inna Khitrik 26:45
We do take names. But what should have be done a month ago? I have a hard time with my contractors. But I think it’s coming along 95%. Yeah, I’m afraid saying that they. But as soon as it’s ready, I will try to do it at least once a month. Yeah. And maybe even next month?

Unknown Speaker 27:07
Yeah, I’m not known. I have a suggestion, which is there’s a website I’m sure Alex has heard of. It’s called Yeah, and I will write it down for you before I head out. And it’s a very simple way for you to organize any events. And Google companies like Google, Microsoft, use it for their after hours, get together seminars, workshops, have a deal. And my taekwondo school also uses it for signing up for summer camps, day camps for students. And I think it’s the same thing for you, especially when it’s a recurring event, you don’t have to redesign the event over and over again. And this way, once you set it up, people can pay directly online or multiple payment options. And also, if the event is way out, like someone like me might want to sign up for your dinner get together for the next 12 months. And I will have reminders, I’ll actually receive reminders, you know, week two weeks before so to remind myself to go and also that really takes the most painful process which is the payment process reminder

Inna Khitrik 28:08
process what we were doing here that I did last year even set by the the class here, which was pretty good. But I this is new for me to do the class like I think in one way like it was great to show people how you can do a lot of things at once, which I can do. But a lot of home cooks are just the people who wants to learn this too much for them. So I made a pretty aggressive menu for that three hours which was together when I met people I realized they just need a simple classes how to cut the vegetables and talk about them how to peel what’s the best way to do it instead of giving them like we’re making two soups. We’re making like meat meat we make in vegetarian we make inside dishes at the same time. Yeah, it was a little bit too much is too aggressive. Yeah. So but this is was the joining process. Yeah, of course. Everybody had a good time. Yeah, I did not have too many people. I think it was only was signed up. And then Alex and his wife save a little bit because he also doesn’t have time to watch me how I do.

Unknown Speaker 29:20
Yeah, yeah. Interesting. People are such different levels.

Inna Khitrik 29:23
Now I can see how it seems like one of my customers says she comes she loves the classes to take losses. Yeah. And also that many people doing that. And they just want a ticket just to make it fine. Like I was thinking of making chicken soup and all the process. So but this is a learning process. For me how to sign up people I want to have eight people instead of like four. How to make sure people sign up and commit to that. Yeah, prepay I think was a good way for me to stay with remember, because otherwise they cancel at the last

Unknown Speaker 29:57
minute. Yeah, of course. will be too much work when by the time you prepare the ingredients, you set your

Inna Khitrik 30:03
back because I already spent the money to set up for the class, especially with the kitchen. Yeah. Which I want to do anyway. But I think with time it shows Yeah, it’s it will show what’s more productive, what to do what people want to do. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 30:21
So I this is very helpful. And I’m so glad that we naturally talked about the workshop and knowing there will be more cooking workshops, either at your kitchen or at your home coming up. Definitely want the listeners if they’re interested, live nearby, or they can fly in from Seattle. Yeah. Famous, just for the famous is do we experiment that and it’s truly very special. I think it’s a very special experience. I like to close the the podcast on one simple question. Sometimes I do rapid fire questions. And but this one, I was thinking that you’ve experienced a lot in life. And we talked about how you got to the country, with your family, the struggles we had to go through. And we can set aside that as a separate podcast. And there’s a lot to talk about. And but for now, I think you know, when you first first got here in the country, it were to simply put, I guess, what would you say to your 20 year old self? What have you learned now that you wish you knew when you were 1820?

Inna Khitrik 31:36
That’s a very difficult question. So actually never thought of that. That way. Going forward. You surprise me with this question? Was I didn’t know if I was

Unknown Speaker 31:50
changing strange. Yeah. Were you much like the way you are now when you were 20?

Inna Khitrik 31:58
Well, I’m sure of myself. I was a scaredy cat. So I think I did not have I have way more efficient now than what I believe I can do. Most of that was I, I was afraid I would never be able to do like, whatever was in front of me. I was scared of that. But I know I can do that. Now. And I sit down but bigger goals for myself. Yeah. So but I think pretty much I know, they have to depend on myself. I have a good support around, but we just did the stone things. My mother, she brought us up that way. But I don’t think I would change much. I would have more. Because I know now what I can do way more

Unknown Speaker 32:54
than before. Yeah, you learn along the way.

Inna Khitrik 32:57
Yes, I would never come with them obstacles in front of you. I know I can handle it. Right now. Like I say whatever happens. It’s for that reason. So and it’s the way it should be happened before with the guy probably boy comes my way, which I cannot handle. I think I cannot handle. But can you handle it anyway? Yeah. Very good. So I think just moiety assurance, and that has to do like I had one of my supervisors for the job, a Jewish family, historical Jewish community housing for the elderly. Yeah, that’s my job, which, after my business skills, business fail, I kind of ended up way down. Because I had nobody else. I’ve worked for one person for six years and had no other references. And that person was my business partner. So I had to start from the bottom again. And I did. And then I met this lady who was hiring assistant manager. So my other friend suggested me and I remember I came to the interview with her while I was working, was an HR partner right now in Washington, and we had an interview in cabin. So and it was scary for me to start the job kind of assistant manager. How can I do? Would I be able to do that? Because of language barriers deal because of course, my voice was Russian speaking. And I started and she after a short time, she observed what I could do. She gave me the teaching manager on my own, which I managed years. It was kind of nine months she said I get and she’s the one who was always telling me you can do that. Why you think you can, you can do that. Because my self esteem from growing up in Russia. I’m not like everybody else, always mode, but you are somebody like, you’re not like everyone else. I can see the love. Yes, because I’m Jewish and international acutal it’s cool. That’s what I felt. And I think it’s

Unknown Speaker 35:24
getting myself. So this woman you were talking about? Is it possible to reference her name?

Inna Khitrik 35:30
We don’t ask them. I, she’s, she moved out from me. And actually she left the company as well. She’s not working. I think I can think she might. And, you know, she actually helped me even with this business. When I was opening she

Unknown Speaker 35:50
I don’t mind writing down for me

Inna Khitrik 35:52
to visit Motorola. Motorola. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 35:58
That’s fantastic.

Inna Khitrik 36:00
He wasn’t the GC. And then she left. And after that short time I left because I

Unknown Speaker 36:12
business real quick. And I know I promised you I wasn’t replying. The Jewish community.

Inna Khitrik 36:18
That’s the kitchen.

Unknown Speaker 36:21
Okay, that’s the kitchen. I see.

Inna Khitrik 36:23
That’s it. That’s a huge organization, Jewish community. For the elderly. They have like six buildings. And what they manage the Meals on Wheels, for the elderly portion Meals on Wheels for all Greater Boston area. And one building has mandatory food program. That’s what I was manager in our hotels. About known as a golden Mayor house. Yeah, that’s the kitchen, which she gave me the Manage of the work for about nine months, because I was assistant manager for Meals on Wheels. And then the mixers you have to read, you know, like it sounds your assistant manager, you are cooking, you’re supervising, you’re doing all of that. It’s like growing in your own business, you have a budget, your cheese and charge, but I was involved in all the things. She would teach me everything, all the heavy lifting and ball, but you still have the heavy lifting. And she was a big woman. And she said the first time I saw you read the spark mash the data. And that’s only five pound Nick’s not when it’s 50 pound white hole with the potatoes in there. So what I would do is I licked some of that, I. But you felt like you do what you have to do. So I think it all plays out. And then like, you have to do it the right way you want to sell. But she said I knew that you can do way better than you can do different things. So like mandatory program program and golden air is more interested in making meals on wheels. People come in to eat every day, five days a week. So you can make you you can play with it a little more. In production is not as big as the news of cannabis. It’s more like you can do the certain things you can do what cannot do a lot of things. It’s only the teacher cannot. But it’s more creative. Yeah, which is at the last years when the economy went down, and we have a lot of people that meet the needs and money for the program. So we put this two programs together. Now they all won. Wow, out of the most because it was more productive that way and the Meals on Wheels, subsidized, subsidized, absolutely.

Unknown Speaker 38:58
So interesting. Very different. But

Inna Khitrik 39:00
I learned a lot of things of course for me like running my own business because you have a budget. You have to

Unknown Speaker 39:07
keep it timeline budget driven with customers.

Inna Khitrik 39:10
Yeah. workers and their customers, the elderly communities. It’s difficult. Actually Asian populations never complained about Wow, yeah, they just come in get a meal.

Unknown Speaker 39:24
Yeah, the, the I think they enjoy. They feel they’re a privilege and I don’t there is subsidized housing project near Cleveland circle. I don’t know which building exactly, you know, there. There’s a very large Russian and Asian Chinese community living in They’re

Inna Khitrik 39:43
probably talking about the same thing. Yeah, it’s it’s on the volleyball court road. Yeah. Yeah. And mostly mostly, most of Americans and Russians mostly moved out. Here So it’s now accepted into pretty much

Unknown Speaker 40:02
Russian and Asian population. Yeah. And then Asian population in particular, I have the budget of me and a gentleman in his 80s, I believe and appreciate the service so much the meals he absolutely enjoys. And I think some of what we talked about here kind of overlap with one another. And he’s very appreciative of the support system.

Inna Khitrik 40:23
Yeah, we had a couple of days. Go the mayor, and he used to own the restaurant. And I was asking him, Give me something like, tell me, what should I do? Just give me advice, some ideas. What should I cook? Every time? Yeah, I find it very appealing to volunteer. For Friday, Shabbat meal, we like lots of roles, like it’s 100 people come in at the same time in a polite paper bag, so we can serve and will be more productive. No, everybody take them along to the dining room. So they would come in and sit down at the round table, to gather you know, they bring their neighbors and sit down with rolls, cranberry pot in the containers, they very willing to volunteer all

Unknown Speaker 41:16
the time. That’s great. I love talking about the community aspect of things and plays such an important part for obvious reasons. But I think it’s a business where you connect with people on a very authentic level, who does a very basic need. And, you know, versus what is the line of work I’m in oftentimes, you see people eat lunches at their desks, which I, you know, I didn’t really grow up that way. It’s a meal is a ritual in itself, you have to respect Joy, I really appreciate as you’re eating the food. So I tend to walk go somewhere, walk around a little bit. So I’d love this aspect of your life. Perhaps it’s so natural, or almost a given to you. But I think this story will really resonate with a lot of people who want to understand restaurant business. We’re gonna open one, I really what it’s like to live a life like this. You own a business.

Inna Khitrik 42:13
So they’re encouraged. Yeah, I’m just started. Three and a half years. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 42:20
No regrets. Yeah, there

Inna Khitrik 42:22
is no regrets. It’s definitely great feeling. And like people say, having enabled people to come in and feel welcoming. You are, it’s very casual, you know, like, get your coffee, and then your concrete is right here. You know, like us, I was very uncomfortable saying that in our lives, actually. This is a self service. You know, it just point out, I feel like, you know, like, even in my home, I serve people, you know. And we do know, our customers who comes every day. Like, you know, like, we’d like to know them by name. And, you know, like, I know if somebody has separation here, there’s things Yeah, I wish I have more time actually want to sit down here and let people see them everyday. But YouTube is on the bet. Yeah. And I can tell analysis working right now like changing the menu and try to promote our catering. He’s a healer people don’t see him that much. Used to be like, sipping the stone in the morning and working on their computer. And next thing I know, it’s not productive work. But like to see you. I think you can. Yeah, yeah. And I don’t know, I hope you will finish you scratching. Will see more, not just for the lunch that. Yeah, absolutely. But we get to know people versus like, this community. Like I know what Alex really enjoy. I think he has a political nature. In college. He did not. That wasn’t the plan. But he always liked to cook a lot. But he also likes to be part of that. Makes it people come into you. You do it something for others. And I know it’s great part of that. Yeah, enjoys it because he’s very smart into high tech. You can do any computer work. You can fix it. You can put it together. He worked at the MIT Media Lab. Yeah. Even doing that kind of enjoy that because this dealing with people. Yeah, yeah, this part

Unknown Speaker 44:42
I can tell he enjoys his job very Mark

Inna Khitrik 44:44
Segal, so you’ve been like he’s married. His wife is Cantor temple and she wasn’t able to come cheer so people college supported As they come for lunch, they whatever they want that they can they can make us push it enough or sometimes they need to support us. And the customers, our customers said they have to go. Customer cost away from your work they call him Thursday from your office, because they think they fight and they know what she loved you so much if you’re from your kitchen, but she passed away.

Unknown Speaker 45:37
Oh, do I know which customer

Inna Khitrik 45:44
she’s getting the holidays. She was very, very sorry. You’re feeling like she liked

Unknown Speaker 46:00
that that was me in the lawn to her. It’s a very special.

Inna Khitrik 46:05
They said they said

Unknown Speaker 46:08
no. And I absolutely think that this business will thrive in this community for a very long time. You’re surrounded by a beautiful neighborhood, a lot of interesting people in and out. And I think you’ll hear even more stories. And who knows, a year or two years from now maybe we can record another podcast to see talk about new items on the menu and a new connection you’ve made and all the new things you’ve learned. So I think that will be this is continued to be continued I hope

Fei Wu 46:40
so. So that is the end of my conversation with Ina. I had a lot of fun. I welcome you to visit their website at Enos It is spelled s i Nn. A both ends as a Nancy. You could also find them on Facebook. They’re located at 19 Pelham Street in Newton center, Massachusetts. Thank you for listening, and I will see you next time to listen to more episodes of the face world podcast please subscribe on iTunes where visit face that is f e i s wo rld where you can find show notes links, other tools and resources. You can also follow me on Twitter at face world. Until next time, thanks for listening

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