A popular Indian restaurant in full swing in Pointe-Claire

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Sahib owner Rajiv Chopra says being forced to leave Pointe-Claire means starting over at an age where he hoped to slow down.

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

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Chopra was invited over a year ago to vacate the premises of 225 Hymus Blvd., just west of St. Jean Blvd. Although he has a lease, it is not registered.

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

Chopra said many other tenants in the building, including the Carrefour jeunesse-emploi de l’Ouest-de-l’ÃŽle, have already left. “The other companies have disappeared. The upper floor is empty. It’s a ghost building.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chopra praised the mayor’s support. “He was very welcoming and he loves the restaurant too. He wants a business like ours to stay here, rather than having big buildings under construction. “

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 is extremely difficult,” he said. “You can’t find a dishwasher, you can’t find a waiter. With the pandemic and the exit of the CERB, the catering sector has been severely affected. “

It currently employs more than 20 people, including delivery drivers and part-time employees.

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

“I would never have 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 clients. 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 counters.

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

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

Sahib Restaurant is located on Hymus Blvd. near boulevard Saint-Jean. in 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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