The Pabla Family Gives Back to the Community It Has Called Home for 33 Years

The owners of Peoples Indian Restaurant and Peoples Grocery are offering free boxed lunches, with a particular eye toward feeding children.
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PHOTOS BY HAL B. KLEIN

Brothers Kulwant and Kuldip Pabla grew up in Punjab, India. For the last 33 years, however, the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Garfield, Bloomfield and Friendship have been the center of their lives. The duo opened Peoples Grocery on Penn Avenue in 1987 and Peoples Indian Restaurant in 1995.

Last week, as thousands of Pittsburghers found themselves furloughed from their jobs as a result of the physical distancing needed to flatten the curve on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pabla family started reaching out to neighbors by offering free boxed lunches of chicken curry, chickpeas and rice to anyone who needs them, with a particular eye toward feeding children.

“For us, there are no second thoughts about doing this. When something like this happens, your first response automatically is, ‘What can we do to help who we can,’” says Harpreet Pabla, Kulwant’s son.

Pabla says that the family’s Sikh religious background informs their response. “We recognize the whole human race as one family. Helping the needy is one of the first things that’s taught to you from a very young age. It’s part of our heritage,” he says.

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But it’s also ties to their neighborhood that prompted quick action. Over the past three decades, they’ve become part of the fabric of the community, which represents a diverse cross-section of Pittsburghers. “We’ve been here through good times and rough times, and we want to give back to everybody for all the times they’ve been there for us,” Pabla says.

Pabla says the family chose to serve chicken curry because it’s one of the most approachable and familiar dishes in the Indian culinary canon, and they wanted everyone to feel comfortable with what they were offering. The combination of chickpeas and rice is nourishing and filling, making it a tasty meal that’ll help anyone get through the day.

Meals are available for minimal-contact pick-up Monday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Peoples also is serving its regular menu, takeout and delivery, for lunch and dinner. Call the restaurant to order.

5147 Penn Ave., Garfield; 412/661-3160, peoplesindian.com

Categories: PGHeats