Stewardship Before Profits for a Concordia Professor-Entrepreneur

Stewardship Before Profits for a Concordia Professor-Entrepreneur

Not long ago, Dr. Molinda Kearns’ Hudson Anchor Restaurant in Sleepy Hollow was a place where the community came together to live and celebrate life. Over American seafood-centric cuisine with a Latin flair along the Hudson River, families and friends marked special occasions and enjoyed casual nights out. The community dropped in for open mic nights and paint-and-sip events. Local singer-songwriters had a venue to share their talents and supplement their income. A service staff of college students, single parents and people who needed second chances found a place to rebuild resumes and learn new skills. 

“When the initial wave of coronavirus infections hit our business suffered immediately,” said Dr. Kearns, who is an Associate Professor of Biology and Director for the Science Program at Concordia. “Like many service businesses, we had to lay off staff. This has impacted the many local artists who rely on venues like ours, too.”

Unsure of what the coming weeks and months would bring, Dr. Kearns and her business partner Gary Serina adopted a novel crisis business model. They resolved to place service to others above all else. 

“I leaned on my faith-led career to guide my new business model. I also leaned on customers who value stewardship and principles before profits. As a pharmaceutical scientist I understand what healthcare professionals and research scientists are grappling with, and I wanted to serve.”

Hudson Anchor’s Meals of Appreciation program allows anyone to donate meals to frontline healthcare workers in the area. The restaurant creates meals in keeping with staff diets, packs and labels them (along with volunteers like Matt Turner, above, Pastor of Hillside Church), and hand-writes thank you cards from donors. Delivery is made in a way that keeps all parties safe. 

A second initiative is in partnership with Gullotta House, a charity founded by Matthew Gullotta (below with Gary Serina) to bring relief to families in hard times. Through the partnership, the Hudson Anchor donates meals to community members in need, who give back what they can. 

“We’ve been able to retain our chef and a minimal staff while keeping the lights on. Within its first week, the Meals of Appreciation program served over 300 folks at our local Phelps Hospital. We were also able to feed over 400 people suffering from food insecurity in our area. All from our tiny kitchen! Recipients are beyond grateful – especially because they receive meals that are healthy, in keeping with the quality of the food we serve. I even got a call from a coronavirus patient whose nurse had shared our food with her. She said it brought her comfort to eat something close to home-cooked.”

And how is Dr. Kearns staying safe while meeting the needs of others? 

“With the passing days, our anxiety regarding deliveries has risen, but so has our routine of personal protection. As folks continue to learn of our efforts, we have been blessed by donations of personal protective equipment. One Concordia professor made us stylish seafood-themed masks. A fashion designer made full facial masks. We make arrangements with staff on the phone, then decide on drop off points that are safe for everyone involved.

Of course, Dr. Kearns has also been busy with her day job, which now entails the delivery of remote instruction. 

“I shared my struggles with my Concordia students and they have been there with me at every step of this journey. It is important that they see fear, struggle, and tenacity, and what it means to put principles before profits. My own students sent money to help our staff when I announced that I had to lay people off. Ethics are a big part of the Concordia College education, and I’d like my students to learn that hard work and high standards go together. Crisis may mean panic and anxiety, but a successful business model during times of crisis is about letting associates trust your stewardship so that they want to be affiliated with you. Our worldview, values and goals affect the way we work. My own Concordia colleagues have demonstrated that too – reaching out in ways I never imagined. I am truly grateful for that.”

To donate a meal, call 914-600-8123.

Hudson Anchor Chef Victor Colachagua