The story behind “Khushal’s Halaal Chicken and Wafaals”
Senior Kushal Kalidindi’s makeshift waffle-business-turned-charity comes to a close
“$3 for waffle with choco chips
Proceeds go to St Judes
Its for the kids”
Pasted alongside the bench-ridden walkway adjacent to the rally court, students crowded week after week around the makeshift sign taped to the wall, sometimes handwritten, sometimes printed. If not for the signs, the smell of freshly made Aunt Jemima waffles drew in large numbers.
When senior Khushal Kalidindi finally found the time to act on a long-time plan to cook on campus, he didn’t let the opportunity pass. As a junior, Kalidindi wanted to execute a novelty concept on campus, similar to making waffles, but found himself too occupied with school and other activities. The plan remained hypothetical. However, once college application season came to a close in Kalidini’s senior year, the timing seemed perfect to elaborate on the longtime idea.
Senior Sebastian Preising, a friend of Kalidini’s, helped evolve and execute the idea, later serving as Chief of Business Operations. Preising describes that making waffles wasn’t where the makeshift business started.
“Originally, it was chicken,” Preising said. “He was like, ‘What if I just bring a grill and we start making chicken?’ And I was like, ‘You know, we probably can’t do that and people are probably gonna get salmonella.’”
The two scratched chicken and the concept eventually evolved into waffles, given that Kalidindi already owned a waffle iron, and the ingredients were easy to acquire. But, the two never fully left the idea of grilling chicken behind them, and the business was officially named “Khushal’s Halaal Chicken and Wafaals.” When he was marketing for the business on Instagram, Kalidindi highlights that there’s “no chicken yet but the waffles fire tho.” Whether chicken would eventually be a part of the business was still in the stages of framework.
Kalidindi attributes a part of the business’ name to his friend senior Abrar Kazi, whom he acquired the “Halaal Wafaals” tagline from. Halaal is a term used to describe foods and drinks that are permissible according to traditional Islamic law. While Kalidindi’s waffles were indeed halaal, the use of the word was mostly accredited to its rhyming with Khushal and waffle.
“[Khushal’s Halaal Chicken and Wafaals] had a nice ring to it,” Kalidindi said. “I remember I talked to Abrar about Ramadan and stuff like that, cause I was really fascinated by stuff like that. I looked into it and I thought it was a really cool thing to do. Also, it works. It just works.”
As far as feasibility to execute, Kalidindi and Preising were well-versed with the location of the waffle-making as the benches alongside the wall behind the library building were the normal gathering spot for the friends. Kalidindi highlights the outlets scattered across the wall as a big attribute to coming up with and executing the plan.
To the two, the plan was never intended to become a business at all, but rather a fun and unorthodox thing to do on campus. In fact, the recent five week span of making and selling was not the first time Kalidindi brought his iron to campus. Kalidindi sporadically decided upon bringing the set up to school a few months back.
“The first time it [I did it was for] the shock value of it — the fact that you can even do this in school,” Kalidindi said. “This is one of the things where it’s kind of semi-legal, I’m not sure if we can do this. So I was like, ‘What’s the worst that had happened?’ So we were just doing it for fun.”
From there, the concept of creating a faux business, as Kalidindi described it, was developed.
The first day of business took place on March 6, 2019 and continued for the following four Wednesday brunches.
The business had two members of staff: Kalidindi as Head Chef and Preising as Chief of Business Operations. Initially on his own, Kalidindi quickly realized that he was only versed in making the waffles and found trouble marketing them, leaving Preising to take the role.
“I’m really bad at managing things,” Kalidindi said. “So I would be trying to crank out the mix and stuff and trying to get the waffles, and [Preising] would be collecting the money and trying to convince the customers that this is in fact food. He’s a nice boy [and] was very good employee.”
The mix Kalidindi used for the waffles was acquired from 7-11 on Wednesday morning before school, given they couldn’t leave campus during tutorial. During tutorial, they would prepare the ingredients for use, adding either water or whole milk into the powdered mix and Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet chocolate chips. Kalidindi keeps the ratios for the batter a secret.
From there, Kalidindi just had to wait until brunch to begin the waffle making and distributing. What initially started as a cluster of seniors and friends turned into crowds of all different classes intrigued by the operation. Even on rainy days, operations would proceed as usual with an umbrella fashioned over the setup. Kalidindi was surprised by the customer turnout, as underclassmen he’d never seen before would gather to purchase waffles.
Social media — Snapchat in particular — was a large proponent of garnering customers, the boys admitted. The platform made it easy for word to spread about the business.
“Pretty much everyone that bought a waffle would sort of film it happening, because they were so in shock that there was a man making waffles on campus,” Preising said. “So that helps get it to like a lot of people — even my friends in other schools ended up hearing about this.”
Senior Apoorv Pachori, a regular customer, had been one of the patrons who heard about the business through Snapchat.
“I saw a promotion on Snapchat,” Pachori said. “Somebody else got a waffle, so I asked what it was about and they said that Khushal sells waffles on Wednesdays. I was walking by and I thought I’d get one.”
Besides the social media notoriety, extended marketing of the waffle business never developed into a top priority for the two. While the signs marketing the waffles were initially written on binder paper, eventually evolving into typed printer paper, Kalidindi did try to create more official posters on MS Paint. The poster idea was later scratched as the concept printed poorly.
Once Pachori understood the proceeds from the business was going to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, he felt even better about the purchases which he made via Venmo. However, Kalidindi hadn’t even expected to make any profit to allocate.
Initially hoping to break even with the money spent on the ingredients, Kalidindi was surprised to earn any profit. Averaging about $18 in sales a day with cash or through Venmo left Kalidindi with about $10 in personal gain. That unexpected profit is what later incentivised Kalidindi to make the business charitable.
“I didn’t go into it thinking I would even make enough to donate,” Kalidindi said. “[But] the last two weeks, when I actually started being able to make money, I was like, ‘I don’t really need this money.’ I don’t really have anything I’d really want to like buy with the little money I gained from that. So I kinda just was like, yeah, might as well donate to charity.”
Kalidindi’s family is a regular contributor to the St. Jude’s Foundation. He finds the charity to be one of the most reputable, appreciating their transparency in the donation process. With its reputability and Kalidindi’s familiarity with the charity, he felt confident sending proceeds their way.
Kalidindi also figured that the idea of donating the proceeds rather than using them for personal gain would settle better with the school’s administration.
Evidently, that was not enough for administration to let the business slide, as it was shut down on its fifth week of operation, April 3.
Though a number of administrators previously walked by the waffle-making benches given its close proximity to the office, most responded positively. The boys highlight their encounter with Assistant Principal Mike White, who even extended to offering paper plates to Kalidindi and Preising. They described the administrators’ responses to be very friendly.
However, it was undeniable that the waffle-making operation violated school code. Kalidindi, from the start, anticipated the shutdown.
“I wasn’t even expecting this business to last two weeks,” Kalidindi said. “I thought like the school admin and stuff would already like have gotten me. It’s not up to code. And I’m selling waffles — we can’t just be making money on campus.”
The morning of Wednesday, April 3, Principal Ben Clausnitzer approached the large crowd of students and respectfully explained to Kalidindi why the waffle business was not allowed. Kalidindi describes the exchange with the principal to be very “chill,” respecting that Clausnitzer didn’t put any of the boys in trouble. Mainly, he highlighted the school codes which the business infringed upon. Clausnitzer is currently in Anaheim and was unavailable to comment for this story.
California Education Code Article 2 #48931 states that selling food on campus is up to the governing board of the school district to permit and “shall ensure optimum participation in the school district’s or the county office of education’s nonprofit food service programs and shall be in consideration of all programs approved by the governing board of any school district or any county office of education.”
Ultimately, Kalidindi had to shut down the business operations, posting the official notice of shutdown on Instagram. The post, racking up 142 likes and 33 supportive comments, displayed the donation which Kalidindi made to the St. Jude’s Foundation: $18.25. Most of the comments thanked and memorialized the former business, but some displayed hostility towards administration.
The caption of the post reads:
Thanks to the waffle fam we got some cash for the kids over at St Jude’s. St Jude’s is one of the few super reputable charities out there and it’s always nice to know that amidst all the shittiness some people are out there doing gods work. As dope as it is to spend cash on yourself sometimes, it’s also pretty dope to spend it on the babies in need so I encourage yall to sometimes put ur money towards charities like these so they can keep the kids cancer free.
the wafaals were too halaal for admin’s taste and we unfortunately got shut down. but we will soon be coming back in one way or another dw waffle gang 🥞🧡 Edit: yo btw like don’t go around saying certain teachers snitched on me please. I fully expected this to happen and don’t blame any teachers for trying avoid waffle liabilities
Kalidindi emphasizes that he hopes students wouldn’t blame administration for the shutdown, as he has previously understood the rules he was violating going into the business and anticipated repercussions.
From here, Kalidindi hopes he can collaborate with the school to bring back the waffle business in a more professional manner.
As of now, Kalidindi is leaning towards attending Pennsylvania State University for computer science. In college, he hopes to continue executing ideas that have always interested him, like the waffle business.
“I have a few ideas of my own for stuff I want to do, especially in college,” Kalidindi said. “I generally want to keep it to stuff that isn’t motivated by school — most of it’s motivated by stuff I’m always interested in and that gives back to the community.”
Kalidindi hopes his business inspires other students to do the things they’ve always wanted to, emphasizing ideas that give back to the community.
“Individual students need to just start something. I guess just have fun — have the balls to go out and do something [they were] always thinking about,” Kalidindi said. “I’ve noticed over the four years [at MVHS], we kind of do the same thing. [...] So I think it helps students to be more motivated by themselves.”