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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 10, 2020
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — A Charlottetown restaurant owner wants to be part of the downtown buzz and he’s prepared to wait for it.
Anuj Thapa opened The Himalayan on Great George Street earlier this month in the space once occupied by the Beanz coffee shop.
He bought the place in February, just before the world turned upside down, with the hope of being part of the vibrancy the downtown tends to have in the summer.
That was before public health restrictions were put in place and the downtown core turned into a ghost town.
People and businesses have trickled back to an extent, but many of the hundreds of workers at Veterans Affairs Canada just next door are not back.
There’s no cruise ship traffic to count on, and tourism has plummeted.
Thapa is determined to push forward and ride out the wave until people return.
“This (virus) will be under control someday, so whatever I have to do right now – that I can do – I will do (to survive)," Thapa said.
Thapa has been in the restaurant business more than seven years. Prior to this year, he operated The Himalayan on at the Midtown Plaza on Eden Street, which he continues to run, and the Spicey Chef on Belvedere Avenue, which he sold.
“Back then, there was no Indian restaurant here. I was the first," he said, referring to his first two restaurants.
Inside the new restaurant on Great George Street, Thapa has teamed up with local artist, Debbie Misener, to give the place some culture. Misener’s paintings are featured on the walls of the establishment and all are for sale. She even painted a mural on the exterior side of the building, which is visible from the outdoor deck.
“I want to help her sell her paintings, and she wants to sell (them). In this challenging time where I can’t get any (artwork from off-Island) I suggested she paint some Island images and even some Himalayan things. She gets more visibility and it’s good for me, too."
Misener, who declined an interview request, works from a studio just above the restaurant.
Thapa arrived on P.E.I. with his family in 2011. They enjoyed their visit and decided to return the following year. Thapa said they were hooked.
“P.E.I. had its own pace; its own speed of life. Toronto and other places are at a different speed. I liked this speed."
Thapa said he and his family have been treated very well since arriving.
“It has become a multicultural place where people respect each other.’’
Despite the challenges that exist right now, Thapa is confident the vibe and the charm of the downtown will be back to what it was before everything changed. And, even if things never completely return to normal, he believes he can find a way to make the business work. He compares it to creating Indian food, he just needs to find the right mix of spices.
“Everybody is pushing the economy (to succeed). The community is working together ... to make life good."
At a glance
Following is some information on The Himalayan restaurant on Great George Street and its owner:
- The location was once home to Beanz, a coffee shop, opened and run by Lori Kays and Doug Hurry.
- It was then purchased and run by Kaan and Gursal Ulkan, who closed the business in September 2019.
- Anuj Thapa purchased the building in February.
- Thapa currently owns two Himalayan restaurants, on Eden Street and Great George Street.
- Thapa moved to P.E.I. from Nepal in 2012 and opened his first Himalayan restaurant the following year.