Local chef Kunal Ghose conceptualized a unique business model for his new restaurant Dobosala Cantina and Ride Thru. He says the goal is to appeal to the business lunch crowd as well as the Pandora bike lane users.
From where Kunal Ghose stands, Victoria is ready for something new — and it has been for a while now.
Ghose, the chef and owner of Fishhook (and co-creator and founder of Red Fish Blue Fish), is opening a restaurant that will operate differently from any other in town. In part, its goal is to appeal to the city’s cyclists with its “ride thru” — it’s like a drive-thru, but for bikes and pedestrians. The restaurant, called Dobosala Cantina, is scheduled to open April 5.
A One-of-a-Kind Business Model
According to Ghose, the concept of a ride thru wasn’t inspired by similar businesses elsewhere in Canada or in the world. To his knowledge, the concept doesn’t exist anywhere else. In fact, Ghose says this idea has been in the works for a few years.
“I’m a firm believer in the Pandora bike lane because it goes over the bridge. It’s a real connector and it’s dual lane. I think the lane added to Pandora Avenue,” says Ghose. “I don’t necessarily feel the same way about all the other lanes that are going in. But I figured, why not embrace [the bike lane]?”
Ghose pitched the idea of a ride thru window for cyclists and pedestrians to Jawl Properties, owner of the new building at 750 Pandora Avenue, and the developers liked the unique model. For Ghose, it’s a model that just makes sense for his business: the new restaurant is located right on the bike lane and Fishhook has seen huge success with the business lunch crowd. Ghose believes the ride thru window will be a new way of efficiently catering to both pedestrians and cyclists.
It’s also a way to embrace a changing city: “Look at cities like Amsterdam and Portland, and how they’ve embraced bikes. I think Victoria is also very forward-thinking,” says Ghose.
Could this model inspire other businesses in Victoria to do something similar?
“I have no idea,” says Ghose. “And it’s not a concern of mine in any way. I just like to do something different.”
How the Ride Thru Will Work
Cyclists and pedestrians will order from Dobosala Cantina’s ride thru window, which cyclists can access right off the Pandora bike lane.
“The bonus is that you can keep your bike with you — you don’t have to lock it up,” says Ghose. “Then you can wheel your food and your bike to any place you’d like to eat it.” He adds that a lot of thought is going into how the food will be prepped for takeout and the restaurant might use the Indian tiffin box concept.
Ghose also explains that the point of the “ride thru” isn’t to encourage people to bike and eat simultaneously. Rather, the goal is to make it as easy as possible for people arriving via sustainable modes of transport to get their food easily.
“You’ll pick up [your meal and] take it somewhere. It’s the same with a drive-thru, really: if you order a big meal and you’re concentrating on eating that instead of on your driving, that’s not a good thing either. Common sense would be suggested!”
More Details On Dobosala Cantina
It’s not just the workings of the restaurant that will be unique. Dobosala Cantina’s menu will also be different. Ghose is calling Dobosala Cantina’s menu “Indo-Pacific.” He says he will be serving up dishes with influences from a range of countries including Mexico, Korea, Japan, Hawaii, as well as dishes with local Indigenous influences. And all will have a little Indian influence.
Inside, Dobosala Cantina will have a bicycle theme with old, refurbished bikes decorating the restaurant’s interior. Ghose adds that the décor will include “floor-to-ceiling windows, an open-concept kitchen and the tables and the bar top are made out of 100-year-old lumber — inside there’s a real juxtaposition of concrete, steel and wood.”
The restaurant will seat 44, with room for an additional 14 at the new restaurant’s patio.
Dobosala Cantina and Ride Thru is located at 760 Pandora Avenue.