Westford Couple Serving Up Dishes so They Can Serve Aid to Those in Need
Editor’s note: This article is the latest in The Sun’s “Be a Volunteer” series, focusing on people who join community nonprofits. Got a suggestion for a profile, email it to email@example.com .
By Aaron Curtis
WESTFORD -- The opening of the Rangoli Grill roughly five years ago was the first time owners Gulshan and Rashmi Kumar delved into food service.
In fact, opening a restaurant was a significant deviation from the careers chosen by the married couple of nearly 30 years. Rashmi has served as an educator throughout the majority of her adult life, while Gulshan has a career in information technology.
“Call it a dream, call it a passion that Rashmi and I have,” Gulshan said about the restaurant’s opening in October 2013.
Born in India, and having moved to the U.S. in the 80s, the couple wanted to provide a healthy and authentic option of Indian cuisine in Westford. But the passion goes beyond the food for the Kumars. The couple use their restaurant to provide help in whatever way they can to the community they adore.
“We have lived here in Westford,” Rashmi said. “We raised our family here. We had kids that have grown up, and gone through the Westford School system. We definitely feel invested. I feel like they got a lot out of being here and it’s our way to say, ‘Thank you.’”
Westford Academy Principal Jim Antonelli acknowledges the restaurant business is not easy. It’s a business he has some background with, having formerly worked as a chef and a bartender.
“It’s hard work and long hours,” Antonelli said.
This has not prevented the Kumars from providing portions of their earnings to a number of fundraisers for Westford Academy at various times of the year. The couple regularly contribute to sports teams and clubs like Westford Academy Theater Arts and the Business Club. The Kumars are also planning to raise money for the school’s Bollywood Dance Club, which was started by one of their two children, Neha Gumar, a 2009 Westford Academy graduate.
They also contribute food to the annual International Night, held in honor of Rajiv Paluri. Rajiv died January 2015 at the age of 13 after a skiing accident at Nashoba Valley Ski Area.
“They are extremely generous. From day one,” Antonelli said. “They have contributed to a whole host of co-curricular activities.”
A 10 percent discount at Rangoli Grill is also offered to Westford Academy students and staff. The pair are even quick to hire Westford Academy students to work part time at the restaurant.
“There’s never been a time where we haven’t had at least two Westford Academy students at a time as an employee,” Gulshan said. “They learn new skills, make a little pocket money and it gives them something to do.”
Their help with the school makes sense, as their children attended the school system and Rashmi has taught English at Westford Academy since 2002.
“I love it,” Rashmi said. “I love the connections I make with the kids. I truly feel like I make a difference. It’s more than teaching a particular text or curriculum. I’m teaching them other skills about life and I’m learning from the kids as well.”
The generosity goes beyond helping out Westford schools though. For example, the 10 percent discount offered to students and staff at Rangoli Grill is also extended to military veterans, along with police, firefighters and EMTs, as well as all members of the Westford Business Association.
“They have a very special engagement with the community,” said Sarah Fletcher, president of Westford Business Association. “They’re personally invested and professionally invested.
The logo for the Westford Business Association appears on the Rangoli Grill website, along with other organizations they have joined, including the Greater Lowell, Nashoba Valley and Middlesex West chambers of commerce, and the Rotary Club of Lowell.
The Rangoi Grill’s impact was recently recognized by the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce with the Steve Jones Community Champion Award on Nov. 14. The honor is given to area businesses that contribute to the area through economic development, as well as community service.
Through these organizations and more, the Kumars have gotten involved with donating their time and the food they make.
“It’s part of their personality -- to be involved in the community they live,” Fletcher said. It’s kind of rare. They are giving back on so many levels.”
Rangoli Grill is located at 8 Cornerstone Square. For more on the restaurant, visit rangoligrill.com .
Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis