Entrepreneur Wendy Kamal, on July 3, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the doors to her spanking new eatery, Debe Kitchen – Roti shop, located at 2124 Nostrand Ave., to carry on a family tradition that started in the town of the same name in Trinidad and Tobago where she was born.
The 800 sq ft. space located at the junction of Flatbush and Nostrand avenues, part of the BID Flatbush Business Improvement Development District, has an attractive, appetizing façade, showcasing Trinidad’s Indian delicacies, roti, doubles, veggies, sweets, among other treats, that were served in the family’s restaurant back home.
Kamal, says bringing her family’s recipes to the New York community has been two years in the making, but due to the coronavirus pandemic she had to resort to researching her options that finally gave her the opportunity to launch her brand.
“All of my family members are cooks, and we all live in New York,” she said, noting that the eatery caters to satisfy the palettes of foodies. She also offers a catering service of the delicious cuisine. The hours of operation for the eat-in or take-out restaurant, are Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and weekends, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Kamal who was surrounded by her mother Sandra Lokhai, sister, Tricia Sweet, and other relatives, thanked everyone, noting relatives helped her along the way, while she worked very hard “to get here.”
“I want to say thanks to everyone, said Kamal, who has also made her mark as a professional dancer, co-founder and instructor of the David Alli Dance Academy in Queens.
Rolando Ross, MPA, of Representative Yvette Clarke’s office in the 9th District, and who works with small businesses in the district, thanked Kamal for being entrepreneurial in the area named “Little Caribbean,” adding that he was there to support the family-owned business. He said, Clarke’s office ascertains the needs of the community by reaching out to organizations, to ensure there is public safety.
Both Trinidadian and Panamanian heritage, Ross concluded by saying, “One Love, One People, One Nation” adding, “I want to make sure you are supported.”
District Leader AD 31, Richard David, said Debe Kitchen will become the “doubles capital” of Brooklyn. “I am here to support Wendy on this amazing journey,” he noted, telling her she has allies in public office to ensure she succeeds, and that the eatery is a community-based eating place that was created with a lot of love.
“When I walked into Debe, I smelled incense, so I knew the staff started the day with prayers, that is what this is about, family, tradition, serving and giving with love, beautiful food, and culture to all of New York. I am here to celebrate with you. I am honored that you are making this investment in our community, as we rebound even stronger after COVID. Congratulations to Wendy, her employees and family,” said David.
Family friend, Damon Dolabaille while thanking patrons for attending the momentous occasion, said it has not been an easy road for the startup.
“With all the support our society offers small businesses, it has been quite an ordeal to say the least. However, because of her preference, family, and friends, who supported her, she is here today, and we are here to celebrate the opening of all their collective labors, and efforts. It really is a community effort,” he said,
Dolabaille, lauded the family for bringing their Indian delicacies to New York from the Southern town Debe, in Trinidad & Tobago, that was very famous for the Indian delicacy, doubles, and lots of good food that comes with a history and a lot of love.
“This is what this country was built on, which is small businesses and individuals who are the real entrepreneurs. They see a vacant store and an opportunity, and they decide to put everything into it. This is what has built America, and communities,” said Dolabaille, noting that big stores, despite the fact that they drive business, do not enhance communities.
“It’s these small mom and pop stores, women, and minority who run businesses that add the “spice” literally, and figuratively to communities,” said the supporter.
Trinidad-born Karen Crawford-Chambers, representative of the office of Brooklyn District Attorney, Eric Gonzalez, extended a helping hand, noting that it was an honor to support her fellow Trinidad compatriot, and called on the family to reach out to the DA’s office for any assistance.
Alison Alexis, another Trinidad-born, who founded the Queens Cancer Walk, applauded Kamal, in her quest for heathy eating, and encouraged the entrepreneur to continue this path, as she congratulated her.