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Monday Morning ‘MUG’ing: A perfect combination of flavours

This week’s Monday Morning ‘MUG’ing is about Goodlife Foods Co. on Memorial Avenue.

THUNDER BAY -- Daljit and Rakhi Ahluwalia dreamed of opening their own restaurant for many years. As owners of the Quiznos franchise on Memorial Avenue, there wasn’t a lot of room for creativity or originality in what they did.

After a long time, the couple finally made the big decision to close Quiznos, and open their own restaurant in its place. Goodlife Foods Co. opened in November 2019.

The concept is build-your-own meals, combining two very popular cuisines - Indian and Mexican. “We personally like Mexican food and we think Mexican and Indian mix well,” says Daljit. “There’s lots of competition in the market so we wanted to do something unique.”

Customers can choose their “style” - burritos, tacos, quesadilla, burrito bowls, etc. - and pick what goes on it. The protein options are numerous - butter chicken, pulled pork, ground beef, tofu and falafel, to name a few.  With your choice of rice (brown or yellow,) legumes (black beans or chickpeas,) veggies and sauces, the meals are hearty, very filling and affordable at $10.49 for meat options and $9.29 for vegetarian/vegan options.

Vegetarians themselves, the Ahluwalias wanted to offer a wider variety for people to choose from. “There’s still not much choice for vegetarians and vegans in the city,” Daljit says. To make ordering easier, there is a separate menu on the wall where everything is vegetarian or vegan.

Shortly after they opened, Indian customers began coming and asked for more typical Indian fare, so the couple started adding Indian street food to the menu. When the menu got too big, they decided to separate the menus, and now operate another restaurant, Curry Up Now, from the same location.

“Eventually we might want to open another place [for Curry Up Now,]” says Daljit, “but with the pandemic, we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Daljit admits that if they had known they would be hit by a pandemic shortly after opening, they might have hesitated starting a new restaurant at such a time. That said, there have been some positives - as a restaurant positioned primarily for takeout and delivery, they were able to stay open, and didn’t lose business in the same way sit-down restaurants did.

The concept of build-your-own, Indian-Mexican fusion has hit a chord, Daljit says, He has had multiple inquiries about franchising, even from places as far away as Toronto. “I was surprised, I didn’t know it would be so popular,” Daljit says. “But we had some travellers from Toronto and they said there’s nothing like this there.”