A popular Indian restaurant fills up Pointe-Claire

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Sahib owner Rajiv Chopra says being kicked out of Pointe-Claire means starting over at an age when he hoped to slow down.

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Rajiv Chopra has been serving Montrealers curry and naan for nearly two decades, but the owner of popular Indian restaurant Sahib in Pointe-Claire may soon up the ante and move to Dorval.

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Chopra was asked more than a year ago to leave the premises at 225 Hymus Boulevard, just west of Saint-Jean Boulevard. Although he has a lease, he is not registered.

“I have a 20-year lease. It expires in October 2023. I pay rent every month. Every increment I honored,” he said. “I want to talk to the owner and see how long he will keep us there.”

Chopra said many other tenants in the building, including the West Island Youth Employment Centre, have already left. “The other businesses have disappeared. The upper floor is empty. It’s a ghost building.

Shapiro Group lists 225 Hymus Blvd. on its website as one of its real estate properties.

In 2018, Pointe-Claire Council voted to approve a zoning change for the property. The motion was moved by Councilor Kelly Thorstad-Cullen and passed unanimously.

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The site is now zoned for retail and service businesses. While a conditional use could allow the construction of multi-family dwellings on the site, Pointe-Claire is waiting for new projects of more than 36 units until a new urban planning by-law is approved.

Pointe-Claire Mayor Tim Thomas, who was elected on a platform to slow development, hopes to convince Chopra to stay put.

“Sahib adds to the cultural variety of our city,” Thomas said. “It adds a different flavor, not only in the food, but also in the culture and the style.”

“Rajiv is also a good businessman,” the mayor added. “He’s running a good, successful business and we want to keep good, successful businesses, and not have vacant homes and multi-level residential complexes because businesses bring us more tax revenue. Multi-level residences have cost us a fortune in infrastructure, while this restaurant sits there, generating tax revenue. »

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Chopra praised the mayor’s support. “He was very welcoming and he also likes the restaurant. He wants a company like ours to stay here, rather than build big buildings. “

Chopra says he’s committed to opening a new location in Dorval on Lakeshore Drive in March, but his biggest challenge is finding more staff during the pandemic.

“It’s extremely difficult,” he said. “You can’t find a dishwasher, you can’t find a busboy. With the pandemic and the release of CERB, the restaurant sector has been hit very hard.

It currently employs over 20 people, including delivery drivers and part-timers.

He said being forced out of his location means starting over at an age where he hoped to slow down.

“I never would have even thought of buying a new building (in Dorval). I am 62 years old and I was thinking of retiring. But then I realized that after 20 years of hard work, it was going to go up in smoke. We want to have a legacy and we have a lot of wonderful customers. We think we owe it to them to stay as close as possible.

Chopra said there are other Indian restaurants on Sources Blvd., but some of them are takeout.

He says he searched around Pointe-Claire to relocate his restaurant, but couldn’t find a suitable location.

He could eventually operate two restaurants. “If we are welcome to stay there (in Pointe-Claire), we will.

Sahib Restaurant is located on Hymus Blvd.  near boul.  St Jean to Pointe Claire.  The owner says he is moving the business to Dorval because the owner of the current building asked him to leave.
Sahib Restaurant is located on Hymus Blvd. near boul. St Jean to Pointe Claire. The owner says he is moving the business to Dorval because the owner of the current building asked him to leave. Photo by John Mahoney /Montreal Gazette

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