Restaurant chalk boards

Who writes all those fancy restaurant chalk boards?

The answer to this question you might assume is someone who works at the restaurant. But as it turns out, sometimes the writing on the boards is out-sourced to someone with a more, um, specialized talent. Enter Rajiv Surenda who recently started writing boards for places like Cafe Pamenar and Juice Department in Kensington Market, as well as bowling alley The Ballroom and King West fish and chip joint The One That Got Away. I recently caught up with Surenda to find out more about his adventures in chalk.

How did you get into chalkboard calligraphy?

I've been doing calligraphy for over ten years and a friend suggested I start writing on restaurants' chalkboards to get my work out there and seen by a wider audience. Writing with chalk is really stress free, as the lines can be erased and rewritten easily, unlink my other work with pen and ink.

How much time does it take you to complete a chalkboard?

The average chalkboard takes a little over an hour to complete, from start to finish. Elaborate, larger boards that usually will not change for a few months (regular menus) will take from 3-5 hours.

How much do you charge the business for this work?

Prices depend on intricacy and time involved. Generally a sidewalk chalkboard will cost a customer between $30-60. Larger boards inside the establishments (protected from the elements!) range from $100-300.

How do you get new clients?

I approach new clients with a portfolio of my work, a positive attitude, and my big bright smile!

Who are your competitors?

My competitors are the staff members who work in the restaurants and cafes - the ones that possess good writing skills...

What's next for you?

I am taking my bag of tricks wherever I travel. I was recently in Munich, Germany, and was thrilled with the response that my work received. Restaurants and cafes were very open to having me re-write their boards. I'd like to continue to travel throughout North America and Europe and find work wherever I am.

Restaurant chalk boardsRestaurant chalk boards

Photos by Christian Humphrey


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