By Goldie Hazrah
After owning two successful Indian-cuisine restaurants for eight years in downtown Edmonton and St. Albert, Alta., I was ready to take on a new challenge. Today, I am involved with several Ricky’s All Day Grill franchises. I own and operate a franchise in Edmonton, work with a partner in Grande Prairie, Alta., and planning to open a third restaurant in the fall. It’s been five years, and I’m still excited about Ricky’s.
Finding a love of food
When I was 15, I moved to Toronto from Punjab, India and finished my high school diploma. I was sponsored by my eldest sister. She is 14 years older than me and has always been a mother figure.
Once I graduated from high school, I returned to India to marry my husband Bobby. As we had limited finances, only one of us could go to school when we came back to Canada. It made more sense for Bobby to upgrade his education, as he’d already finished his master’s degree in biochemistry in India. He went to the Northern Alberta Institute for Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton and studied medical laboratory technology, while I worked in the retail service industry. Five years later, we had twin boys named Arsh and Kaveer.
As we didn’t want to send the boys to daycare, I decided to stay at home with them until they were old enough for kindergarten. I enjoyed my time as a stay-at-home mom and discovered my passions for cooking and socializing with my friends.
Funnily enough, as soon as the boys were starting to go to school in 2003, one of my closest friends was over one day and planted the seed for what would be my entrance into the food industry.
“You love cooking, and you’re good at it,” my friend said. “Why don’t we open a restaurant?”
That’s where it all started. That same year, we started planning.
We discovered Haweli, a restaurant in downtown Edmonton that wasn’t doing well. After discussing the opportunity with Bobby, the logistics and what it would add to our life, we decided it was a great idea to team up with my friend and buy this restaurant.
In our first year, we increased sales by 200 per cent and customers started coming downtown just to dine with us.
Demand was great and we opened a second location in St. Albert. We were the first contemporary fine-dining Indian restaurant that had a sommelier-selected wine list to pair with our menu. It was a hit! However, running two restaurants with catering services proved exhausting and after eight years, it was time to sell.