Loumies proprietor Rania Chidiac Kaldi couldn’t even announce her restaurant’s closure when she was pressured to relocate her household to New York Metropolis so her husband Raed — who nearly died from extreme liver failure — may search medical remedy in September.
“I didn’t even have time to place a observe on the door that we closed. It was in the course of the night time, and I used to be at house,” Ms. Kaldi stated. “I didn’t have time to take my notebooks. All my work and my papers — I couldn’t take something with me.”
On the similar time that Mr. Kaldi was hospitalized, Ms. Kaldi stated her mom, who nonetheless lives in Lebanon, was battling stage 4 most cancers.
“I had to decide on between my enterprise, seeing my mother or serving to my husband,” Ms. Kaldi stated. “As onerous because it was, I made the conclusion that my mother is dying. I can’t do something about it, however my husband is dying, and I can do one thing about it. As onerous as it’s, it was easy. He’s my husband, the daddy of my daughter, and my enterprise companion. If I give him the time, he could make it.”
Ms. Kaldi, who’s an immigrant from Lebanon, stated she and Mr. Kaldi — who’s from Palestine — being immigrants means the Kaldi household lacks a assist construction that folks born in america typically have. This pressured her to make the troublesome resolution to shut Loumies and relocate to New York Metropolis with Mr. Kaldi.
“The fact of the matter is that you simply want a full household to be round you to outlive in robust occasions, and we don’t have that as immigrants. Whereas I used to be searching for choices to see what I can do to maintain Loumies up and working, I additionally needed to look after my husband as a result of it was very clear he wanted to be in New York Metropolis,” Ms. Kaldi stated. “He isn’t able to going out on his personal. He’s bedridden. He wants somebody to really deal with him on a regular basis.”
Mr. Kaldi was capable of finding an identical liver donor in a couple of quick months, even supposing searches for organ donations usually take years, and he underwent a profitable liver transplant that saved his life after their relocation to New York Metropolis in September.
“I noticed him die with my very own eyes,” Ms. Kaldi stated. “He turned a skeleton. Now he’s coming again, he’s placing on some weight. He can transfer, he can stroll. We are able to stroll across the hospital collectively. He’s doing a lot a lot better. The medical care he’s getting is one of the best on the earth. Once I noticed that group that labored with him it was like a dream group. They have been giving him all their consideration.”
However the battle for Loumies is much from over. Its closure, mixed with Mr. Kaldi’s medical prices, have drained the Kaldi household’s funds, and Mr. Kaldi has developed medical issues past his liver.
“We found he’s way more sick than we thought,” Ms. Kaldi stated. “On high of his liver, he had a progress in his mind that must be operated on and that’s going to occur in three weeks time really.”
Ms. Kaldi arrange a GoFundMe web page with a purpose of elevating $40,000, which obtained a big swell of assist from the group. Inside the first 24 hours of its launch on Monday, Oct. 23, the GoFundMe raised over $3,000 from greater than 100 completely different donors.
“The love that I obtained from the group, from the scholars, but in addition from the individuals round me, from the neighbors to the drivers to the employees and from different enterprise house owners… It’s phenomenal,” Ms. Kaldi stated. “Ithaca has been nothing however an exquisite place for us and a welcoming place for us. I need to be again as quickly as attainable.”
With assist from the group, Ms. Kaldi hopes she will reopen Loumies — a Levantine home-style restaurant at 114 Dryden Rd. that shortly turned common after its 2022 grand opening — and convey individuals collectively as soon as extra. Earlier than and after its return, she hopes to seek out methods to reconnect with the group.
“I don’t want to succeed in $40,000. If I attain $20,000, that’s the day I’m going to open,” Ms. Kaldi stated. “Till then, I’m planning on going again to Ithaca as a result of my husband is getting higher each day. Hopefully I can depart him for a couple of days and are available to Ithaca and do some enjoyable fundraising occasions.”
Ms. Kaldi stated she is hopeful she will reopen by the start of 2024. Till then, she hopes Mr. Kaldi’s well being turns into secure sufficient in order that she will return to Ithaca to rebuild her enterprise within the coming months.
“Though my plan is to open in January, I don’t need to keep in New York Metropolis till January,” Ms. Kaldi stated. “I need to come again as quickly as attainable. I need to come again as early as November to do occasions. Even when I open for at some point, that may imply the world to me.”
Ms. Kaldi stated she opened Loumies to create a welcoming atmosphere for all by means of meals. With Ms. Kaldi’s advertising and marketing and meals expertise mixed with Mr. Kaldi’s enterprise background, the 2 proved to be a robust duo that constructed their restaurant with an emphasis on hospitality. This paid off, as Loumies — which is called after the Arabic phrase for a dried citrus fruit utilized in spice mixtures — shortly turned a Collegetown favourite, praised for its wholesome and scrumptious menu.
“Once I created Loumies, I created a platform to construct a thriving group primarily based on inclusivity, sustainability and empowerment,” Ms. Kaldi stated. “We actively foster an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere. We embrace people from numerous communities, backgrounds and cultures.”
Regardless of the trials she and her household have gone by means of in current months, Ms. Kaldi nonetheless stays true to her values, centering meals as a pillar of group.
“I all the time believed within the energy of meals,” Ms. Kaldi stated. “Meals brings individuals collectively. Individuals obtained so concerned with my meals that I began getting requested to do occasions and to cater for pals and different mother and father in my daughter’s college.”
Jonathan Model ’27 is a Solar contributor and may be reached at [email protected].