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Couple's dream restaurant opening after months of delays

"At one point I did get a little distressed, but I came out of it very quickly because we had already taken the plunge and there’s only one way out now— We have to see it through to completion.”

COCHRANE— A couple in Cochrane is getting ready to open their new restaurant after a tumultuous few month of trying desperately to get their dream off the ground.

Curry ‘N’ Fizz, a new restaurant opened by Saurabh Joshi and his wife Shweta, have been preparing for their opening day on Wednesday (Dec. 16) for several months.

“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride,” said Joshi.

Joshi will be managing the front of house at Curry ‘N’ Fizz, while Shweta will be managing the kitchen.

Joshi has a background in oil and gas. During his time in that role, he travelled across much of Asia including Indonesia, Singapore and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. While on the move, Joshi’s wife accompanied him and picked up many culinary skills along the way.

Joshi saw a significant decline in his work around 2016, and when COVID-19 his Canada the situation worsened. His wife had always dreamed of opening up a restaurant, and the two of them jumped at the opportunity.

“This pandemic hit us and, you know, the oil dried up,” Joshi said. “It gave us some food for thought, we cannot rely on what I was doing forever, and we need to start thinking a little differently. She jumped in and said ‘you know what, this is what I’ve always wanted to do. Let’s start a new restaurant.”

The pair began looking for a suitable location and began to search in Calgary, but the real estate prices in the city are still very high. With the high real estate prices in the city opening a restaurant with capacity restrictions did not make sense, he said, so the pair looked westward, to Cochrane.

The couple found a prime location in historic downtown and signed a lease, and for the past four months have been getting everything in place for opening day.

Unfortunately, the process has been hindered by COVID-19.

The Joshi’s needed equipment for the restaurant, but the warehouse they ordered from identified a positive COVID-19 case and was shutdown, causing a significant delay in the restaurants opening. Many of the imported items and wholesale materials required to run the restaurants were delayed in ports as well.

Joshi had been scouting for chefs to staff his kitchen with, and identified a candidate he thought would be perfect.

“I had my eyes on him, and I thought one day I would get this guy to work for me, but then because of the pandemic he lost his job here and he had to move out and went to B.C.,” he said. “I hunted him down from B.C., and he did come back and we’re lucky enough to have him here.”

The entire process, Joshi said, has been stressful and scary at times. Left without an income after the loss of his oil and gas work while pouring money into the opening of Curry ‘N’ Fizz, Joshi had to find creative ways of managing things without

“We learned a lot of things. I think we can guide new entrepreneurs now on how to fix things up when the situation is not that favourable,” he said with a chuckle.

Throughout the process, the many delays became discouraging. At one point, Joshi said he was ready to throw in the towel.

“When our equipment was stuck, we were talking to other people and it was just not happening,” he said. “At one point I did get a little distressed, but I came out of it very quickly because we had already taken the plunge and there’s only one way out now— We have to see it through to completion.”

His motivation to see the restaurant open its doors was not the only thing that kept Joshi’s spirits high during the tougher moments.

He and Shweta received many comments from people passing by, telling him that they were excited to a see another restaurant open, and called the couple was courageous to attempt to open a restaurant during the pandemic.

“The community, the people, have been outstanding. So many people who just walk by ask us when are you opening, and get excited to see us here, that sort of thing. You see people are happy to see us here, and that’s a very big thing. That’s one of the things that kept us going.”

Now that their opening day has come, Yoshi said that he is nervous and excited to open his doors to the people of Cochrane.

There are “a lot of butterflies, and a lot of excitement as well.” Joshi said. “The day we finalized a couple of things, and we were like ‘OK, we’re all done,’ we got the news of the new restrictions— The no dine-in and stuff. But, then we thought ‘it’s OK, we’ve gotten past a lot of things, and this is just another thing.’ We’re still allowed to open, and people are still allowed to taste the food, it’s just that we’re not allowed to host people. If all goes well within a month that will happen.”

Joshi said he initially hoped to help get the restaurant on its feet and then go back to his career in oil and gas, but the process of opening has changed his mind.

“When we first started, I thought I would just help open it up and then go back to pursuing what I’ve been doing. But over the past three months, when we have given it our sweat and blood, we’ve had a change of heart and I’m like ‘this is what I want to do, I don’t want to go back,’” he said with a laugh. “I’m completely in love with it. This was always, my wife, this was always her thing, but now it’s my thing as well.”

Curry ‘N’ Fizz is located in historic downtown Cochrane at 519 1st Street #109.

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