With a customer base that’s growing as quickly as its reputation for quality Indian cuisine, Le Taj Tandoori stands as an example of how success can be found by pursuing your passion. When co-owners Salina Nagi and her husband, Ali, moved to Timmins from Toronto in 2009, they were looking for a change and “for somewhere good to do business,” she said. “We arrived thinking we would start up something like a gas bar, but as soon as we got hungry, we started missing Indian food.” Rather than risk opening a brand new restaurant featuring all-Indian cuisine, the couple assumed ownership of D’eatery, a long-time staple of Timmins’ downtown food scene, and incorporated just one Indian dish into the menu. “In our first year, people seemed a little scared of having a different culture brought into town, which is why we decided to just see how one dish would go,” said Nagi. Fortunately, demand quickly rose for a broader range of Indian food, and before long, D’eatery was transformed into Le Taj Tandoori. “We did it slow enough that people were able to see how much they actually like it,” said Nagi. While most of the community quickly adjusted and enjoyed the change to the downtown landmark, one of the biggest challenges faced by the new owners included hesitation from some of D’eatery’s long-time customers. Out of respect for the historic clientele, the original restaurant’s full menu still remains in place, allowing for a full slate of Indian meals alongside traditional Canadian food, with vegetarian and vegan options to accommodate a wide range of appetites and taste buds. “Some of D’eatery’s regular customers stopped coming because they didn’t realize that the D’eatery menu was still being offered, so we like to try to remind people of that,” said Nagi, “But we’ve been here four years now and every day we see new customers.” This approach has proven to be an effective one, as easing the community into a new type of food helped the Nagis to build a client base that now lines up for their locally famous Indian cuisine. Le Taj Tandoori now has a wide and loyal following, and proudly stands as the best-rated restaurant in Timmins on the popular travel site tripadvisor.ca. In response to their growing success, Le Taj Tandoori is adding to its staff of nine by hiring four new employees, including a chef that is coming directly from India to help revamp and refresh the Indian menu. Adjustments are also being made to their storefront, and hours are being expanded to include an early bird breakfast. “Things are going well, so we’re also thinking about locations in Sudbury and North Bay,” said Nagi. With this level of growth on the horizon, Salina and Ali are quick to thank all their customers for their support, including the Timmins Chamber of Commerce, and Chamber CAO Keitha Robson in particular, noting how Chamber membership has been a big help unto itself. The restaurant also catered to firefighters during last year’s demanding forest fire season. In order to give back to the community that has welcomed them so warmly, the Nagis have sought to assist with any number of worthy programs, such as participating in a healthy hot lunch program at several local elementary schools, and donating food to local homeless shelters, including the Good Samaritan Inn. “Our customers and the Chamber network are like part of our family now,” said Nagi. To find out more about Le Taj Tandoori, please visit them at 119 Pine Street South, or call them at (705) 267-2330. They can also be found online at www.letajtandoori.com. Click here to see the full-sized image.