Finding employees has been an issue for Babbi who has now opened the Tandoori Grill. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)

Finding employees has been an issue for Babbi who has now opened the Tandoori Grill. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)

Indian cuisine added to the Burns Lake palette

Babbi opens Tandoori Grill replacing the Grapevine pub and liquor store

A new cuisine, in the form of food from India, has come to the village of Burns Lake.

Tandoori Grill, opened its doors on Dec. 9, to the village, for an Indian food experience, something the town had been missing out on ever since the previous place serving Indian cuisine shut down.

Satinder Pal Singh, fondly known as Babbi, who owns The Office pub is the owner of this new restaurant which comes in place of Grapevine Pub and liquor store.

The Grapevine Pub and liquor store shut its doors last year and the owners filed for bankruptcy. One of the owners was Babbi, who received a lot of flak on social media, for closing down the liquor store.

“We had to close it down due to some complications in the partnership. In the meantime, I had also started The Office pub. But two liquor stores were not good for business; there was a lot of expense to run even just one liquor store, let alone two,” said Babbi.

Babbi also expressed how hurt he was over some of the social media flak he received for the business decisions he had to make.

“Closing down the business was eventually part of my business strategy because I could see that having two liquor stores that I owned, competing against each other was not good or necessary. People are angry with me for closing the liquor store but it was on the market and if someone really thought that the town needed two liquor stores, they could’ve bought the business and made it their own,” he said, “It is easy to complain or blame but when running a business, difficult decisions need to be made that could be perceived negatively in the short run but have long term benefits for both the business owner as well as the community that the business is serving.”

COVID hurt his business too and so did several rumors following the liquor store closure.

“Due to COVID, our staff walked out overnight. Every single person walked out. And rumours go around very fast because people started saying that The Office pub will be closed too. But we never closed; not even for a day and our girls continued the business through take out even during the peak COVID days,” he said, adding that his current staff, his right hand man Harsh Joshi, his sister, have all been pillars of strength throughout these difficult days.

Babbi said, in the three years since he has been in Burns Lake, he has faced a lot of difficulty finding and retaining employees.

Earlier in July, when Babbi presented his plans to reopen the Grapevine location, in front of the council, he explained his difficulty in finding a cook which had made it impossible to reopen the Grapevine pub’s location.

“It is very hard to get chef and employees in this town,” he said, adding that he soon realized that while bringing a cook was necessary, bringing a different cuisine was crucial.

“I started to look for another cook for Tandoori because for a town of this size, having to eat limited cuisines is not enough; having to eat same food without a different cuisine,” he said.

He also has big plans for the new restaurant as well as for the town. He plans to start serving breakfast at The Office Pub, introduce a Sushi place in town in the future, as well as bring more entertainment options through live music.

“I plan to open the small party hall that can accommodate 10 to 20 people; for meetings, conferences, parties and live music. I plan to build a live kitchen, separate bar area. That way we will also be able to bring another avenue for entertainment in the town,” he said.

The mayor and the village council have been wanting to do more with this town through the new tourism plan in place and having diverse cuisine will definitely help with this plan, he thinks.

“I love this town and the community and I would like to tell the community that I need the support from the town; if you have any issues, complaints, if I did anything wrong, come to me; I am right here, and I will do my best to address your issues. I am always open to listening,” concluded Babbi.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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