A woman who has spent much of her adult life working in the food and beverage industry and most recently was the manager of a soul food restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has purchased the former Notched Branch restaurant in Kamsack and plans to open it as Kunshi’s Kitchen on August 15.
“I’ve always worked as a supervisor or manager, but now with this restaurant it gives me the opportunity to start and do the job for myself from the bottom up,” Lisa Tacan said last week when she was interviewed for this article.
A member of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, located 30 minutes west of Brandon, Man., Tacan said that having worked in the food industry ever since her first job as a server at the Perogy Pantry in Brandon, she has learned that homemade meals are so much better than re-heated frozen foods.
“Homemade food takes more time and consideration, but it tastes so much better,” she said, pleased she will soon be offering such food to customers in Kamsack.
When she said that she recently managed a soul food restaurant in New Mexico, she was asked what “soul food” was.
“The very best is gumbo,” she said with enthusiasm, explaining that like borscht, every cook’s gumbo can differ from every other cook’s gumbo. “It’s great. I also enjoyed the catfish and collard greens that were served in the restaurant.”
After having served perogies in Brandon, Tacan said she had also worked in various bars and restaurants in Brandon and then began working with the Saskatchewan Indigenous Gaming Association (SIGA) in Yorkton at the gift shop and then at the restaurant. She has also worked in security and surveillance and accepted contracts for such work for various powwows.
Because the father of her daughter Victoria, is from Cote First Nation, Tacan became familiarized with this area. In May she purchased the restaurant building and three adjoining lots.
Kunshi means grandmother in Dakota, she said when asked about the name of her restaurant. It will have a menu containing all the regular foods, like hamburgers and French fries that one expects at a fast-food restaurant, but will feature much more.
“We are going to feature an all-day breakfast and a ‘monster burger’ comprised of a huge, homemade patty with cheese, deep fried pickles, onion rings and a second patty of hamburger.
“I want to offer homemade perogies and cabbage rolls and am looking for people to help make them. My perogy and garlic sausage plate will feature Greyson sausage, which is a product made in Greyson and is famous all over Southern Saskatchewan.”
The menu will include a wide variety of poutines, such as regular poutine, Mexican poutine and cheeseburger poutine, she said, adding that she expects to feature fried breads as specials.
“On opening day, we will have a bannock burger sale.”
Because many First Nation people suffer with diabetes, Tacan said she will be including sugar-free, diabetic-friendly desserts on the menu.
Hired as a cook is Arthrine (Archie) Pasaporte of Kamsack, who has indicated he will add Filipino rolls to the menu. Also working will be a couple of servers and a family member who will help manage the business.
“I will be everywhere, cooking and serving,” she said.
In addition to her daughter Victoria, who lives in Calgary, Tacan is the mother of two other adult children: a son Andrew of Sioux Valley, Man., and a daughter Ashley of Winnipeg. She has two adopted children, Nakoda Ackachuck of White Bear First Nation and Kaylib Eagle of Canupawakpa Dakota Nation, and eight grandchildren.
Among her non-work interests is making beaded and turquoise jewellery and she eagerly shows photographs of examples of her work.
“I may have a display of my work in the restaurant.”
Aside from getting a new sign built for the building, Tacan says she’s nearly ready to open. She will have a hand sanitizing station and will ensure that all the COVID-19 guidelines will be strictly enforced.
“I just have to finish cleaning, do some yard work and then all I have to do is fill up with food and supplies.”
Although the restaurant has a seating capacity of 40, because of the current COVID-19 situation, Tacan said that the restaurant will open as a take-out only facility but customers may make use of outdoor seating.
Kunshi’s Kitchen will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and will stay open to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It will be closed on Sundays.
“I will also have a Facebook page,” she said.