“Everything I’ve done has led to this,” Amir Rahim, co-owner of Grounded Kitchen and Coffeehouse says of his new Centretown business. Of his business partner and friend, Gabriel Pollock, Amir reflects “I couldn’t have done it without him.” Opening a restaurant had been their lifelong dream, and in the summer of 2010 it came to fruition.
Located at 100 Gloucester Street in Ottawa, Grounded is about quality food, made with all natural ingredients. Gabe (co-owner and head chef) states that you need great ingredients to make great food. Over the years, Gabe has perfected simple, ingredient-based cuisine. And just as the meals are made from scratch, so too is how they created the place.
“Everything was built from the ground-up, recycled, and re-furbished,” explains Amir. The open-kitchen concept at Grounded serves healthy, simple food from behind two wooden carts (former Museum of Civilization exhibition items). The bar is built out of whiskey barrels and if you look closely, you’ll notice a glass table made from an old door.
Opening wasn’t easy. After finding the perfect location (formerly Hair Junkie Salon), Amir and Gabe had their work cut out for them before they were able to open their doors to the public. Amir enlisted the help of friends to build the coffee bar, scrape the ceiling, and paint the walls (special thanks to Venk Prabhu and Daniel Cheverie).
Meanwhile, Gabe relied on his years of kitchen experience to create the perfect menu and design the layout for the kitchen. He explains that once he and Amir had decided on the concept of an outdoor market, indoors, the menu evolved from there. The food is inspired by not only by what he loves to prepare, but also what he loves to eat!
When they finally opened, they were broke. “We’d spent all our money on inventory,” Amir laughs. “Daniel [a friend] met us at the store with a bunch of change. We all got together and pulled out of our pockets whatever change we could find. We needed a float…”
That first day of business was slow. “We might’ve had three people come in,” Amir recalls. But he stayed patient and positive, believing in the plan. “Three people turned into four, turned into six, turned into ten…”. They now serve over 200 customers a day - and are still growing!
Although Amir and Gabe would like to open a second Grounded location in Ottawa, they don’t intend to get too large. “I’m happy to keep on growing,” says Amir, “But I’m a firm believer of keeping it grounded.”
Here are some things you may not know about Grounded:
- Grounded is licensed with a selection of unique cocktails, and vintage wines, as well as bottled and draught beer.
- Available to host and cater private functions, including birthday parties and weddings!
- Blake and Tracy McMillan started a trend by getting married at Grounded, May 28, 2011.
- Cookies and coupons on the street was how Grounded was first advertised – since then, they’ve received mention in the Ottawa Citizen and several A-Channel appearances.
- Teas for sale are handpicked by Venk (owner of Shanti Tea), a friend of the owners who travels directly to crops in countries like Sri Lanka, India, and China. The organic, loose-leaf teas are often blended right at Grounded.
- Monday-Friday you will find a special, hot, gourmet meal made from scratch at the Grounded kitchen (~$13 including tax).
- Gabe started cooking because he hated bad food, and often found himself thinking “I can make this better”.
- Co-owner Amir Rahim self-identifies as the “World’s Best Dishwasher”.
"I first discovered Grounded late summer 2010, mainly because of their location, which happens to be right across the street from my work at EDC. At first I was drawn in by the cool décor, the great tasting coffee and food, and shortly thereafter, before I knew it, I had become a loyal customer.
Grounded is by far my favorite coffee/lunch place in Ottawa."