Although Genga Ponnampalam left his native Sri Lanka in 1990 for an American college education and a stable career, a small piece of his heart was sure that someday–somehow–he would follow his father’s footsteps as a farmer and business owner.
That suspicion began to evolve in 2001 when, after working nearly 10 years as a computer programmer, Genga was laid off into a shaky job market. Rather than compete for scarce opportunities, he decided it was time to combine his business skills with his passion for healthy, wholesome food and take a risk.
Veggies was born in Buffalo, New York, with the help of a local organization called MAP (Massachusetts Avenue Project), who’s Food Ventures Program allowed Genga access to their Community Shared Kitchen space to launch his new business. Veggies began selling their fresh and frozen foods at farmer’s markets throughout Western New York and in 2004, after purchasing their very own food cart, were now able to serve hot, homemade vegetarian food at markets and events across the state.
One of Genga’s hopes for his new business was to positively affect the lives of people–he wanted to share the idea that healthy food could be delicious, easy, and inexpensive.
Veggies acquired its own licensed commercial kitchen space in 2004 in downtown Buffalo, where Genga and his small team of employees still cook today.
In 2006, Veggies officially became Go Veggies Inc., a sure sign that the company was steadily growing.
Go Veggies pleases farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and online customers with their expansive vegan and gluten free menu that includes burgers, curries, wraps, soups, and sides. Many of the recipes are inspired by Sri Lankan cuisine and crafted by Genga’s wife. Their two children are also part of the business and often spend weekends and holidays working hard as part of the Go Veggies team.
Despite all of his success, Genga was not quite satisfied, and in 2012, opened Go Veggies Cafe & Mini Market in the heart of Buffalo. The dine-in or take-out cafe serves 100% vegan food, and succeeds in being both healthy and delicious. Genga feels constant support and encouragement for what he is doing for the community. “Customers appreciating what we do,” he says, “is the reward for all of our hard work.”