Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe wins $100,000

Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe on West Franklin Street received a $100,000 grant from Chase Business. 

Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe was one of 20 businesses recognized by Chase for their Mission Main Street Grant campaign this year. 

At Vimala’s, when customers feel that they can pay more than the menu price, they are asked to donate to a fund which goes to help feed those who can’t pay. This is their "when Vimala cooks, everybody eats" policy. 

“We never turn anybody down," said Anjali Rajendran, Vimala’s daughter and one of the current chefs at the restaurant.

Due to generous patrons, the grant money they received will be able to go toward other improvements for the restaurant instead of the “Vimala Cooks, everybody eats” fund.

“We’ve been able to run that (fund) really well on customer donations,” Rajendran said. “We hope to use the money to make improvements to old equipment and the dining room, to expand our offerings and to improve our visibility.” 

Rajendran also added that the money would help them pay off debts that they owe to local lenders.

Jessica Wolf, a member of the team from Chase who helped make the final decision on the winners, said the grants are designed to help small businesses which are making a difference in their communities. 

“Chase chose Vimala’s Curryblossom Café as one of 20 grant recipients out of the 30,000+ applications that we received this year not only because we saw the potential for her business to grow, but more importantly because of the great work that Vimala does in the community,” Wolf said in an email.

Vimala’s also supports the surrounding community by buying local food, composting their food waste and paying their employees a living wage.

“The way we prepare the food, it’s nostalgic for a lot of Indian people," Rajendran said.

Aaron Nelson, secretary of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of commerce, said Vimala’s is a great choice for the grant. 

“(Chase) selected one of our most exceptional businesses and one of our most exceptional business leaders to win this award and we are very excited for her,” Nelson said.

In addition to the money, the small business owners also get a chance to visit LinkedIn headquarters in California to learn more about small business management.

“I think this is a great place, and I’m so proud of the food we serve here," Rajendran said.

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