Socially conscious is the only way to be entrepreneurial for Donnie Ungaro.
“For me, if I’m going to be in business, then a social enterprise is the way to go,” said Ungaro, 33.
“Thus, socially-conscious comfort food.”
Ungaro launched his bicycle-towed food-cart business in Kelowna to rave reviews.
“Essentially, it’s a food truck behind a bike,” he said.
“It’s a licensed, legal kitchen that can be pulled by a bike. It has hot water and a sink, burners, hot boxes and flash freezer and it serves up killer comfort food.”
Ungaro came up with the concept, the first of its kind in North America, and is working with three charities to cycle the food out into the community.
Soles4Souls (shoes for the needy), Metro (services for street people) and the Kelowna Food Bank are taking delivery of food bikes as franchises and will operate them around town.
The first will show up in front of Metro at the corner of Water Street and Queensway Avenue downtown and others will roll into locations in the vicinity of the Landmark office buildings, Okanagan College and Kelowna General Hospital.
Profits will help the three charities and
20 per cent of proceeds from the food bikes will also be donated to food programs for children in need.
The food bike menus are street cool — think ginger beef and pickled vegetable sandwich, Indian-spiced scrambled eggs in a naan cone, pulled-pork grilled cheese sandwich, pork and pineapple taco, chipotle mac ‘n’ cheese, jerk chicken and butter chicken.
“The people that work the food bikes can also transition to kitchen or restaurant jobs if they want to,” said Ungaro.
Ungaro’s company is called Culinary Ink, in reference to his profession as a chef and his tattoos.
Ungaro also works under contract with the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission to run the Okanagan Young Professionals Collective.
It brings together young businesspeople to network and do good.
It’s flagship Motion Ball event raised $62,000 for disabled kids sports and another event has young professionals donate volunteer hours to charities instead of money.
He’s also organizing Kelowna’s Tedx event Friday that will attract 1,350 people to the Kelowna Community Theatre to hear guest speakers such as Olympic silver medalist curler Cheryl Bernard and Jonnie Penn, the producer and star of MTV show The Buried Life.
“I’m the organizer and I’m also catering it,” said Ungaro.
“I swore I would never do both at the same time again, yet here I am, doing it again.”
Ungaro was nominated for Top Forty Under 40 by financial adviser Jay Doowhaniuk of Raymond James and Victor Narynskyyi of Centro Consulting.
Editor’s note: This is the fourth of 40 profiles for the Kelowna Top Forty Under 40 program presented by BDO Accountants and Consultants, the Junior Chamber of Commerce International (Okanagan chapter), Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and The Daily Courier. Every week in this space, we’ll feature someone under the age of 40 who is making an impact through business, community involvement and innovation.