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'We want everybody to come': Family opening second Indian restaurant location

Passage to India owner Sunny Sethi holds a plate with vegetable korma and butter chicken, two items on the menu at his new location at the Granite Springs Golf Club in Bayside.
Passage to India co-owner Amar "Sunny" Sethi holds a plate with vegetable korma and butter chicken, two items on the menu at his new location at the Granite Springs Golf Club in Bayside. - Ryan Taplin/The Chronicle Herald

A family-owned Indian restaurant business is making a comeback amid the pandemic with the launch of a second location. 

Bulbul Sethi and her husband Amar (Sunny) Sethi opened up Passage to India on the Dalhousie University campus in January 2018. 

All was going well at the Dalhousie food court destination, which has become a favourite among Indian students at the university, until COVID-19 struck and forced the food court and other university facilities to close down in March, according to Bulbul Sethi.  

She said the closure got the couple thinking, and they decided to take the plunge and chase their dream of opening a larger Passage to India location, where they could not only feature a tandoor oven, but also host more customers and offer an expanded menu.

The family approached the Granite Springs Golf Club and then got the green light to open up shop there for the summer, while their first location remains closed until at least January. They’re hosting a grand opening at their second restaurant location, located at the golf club at 4441 Prospect Rd. in Bayside, on Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m.  

“This is really exciting for me,” said Sethi. 

“I always wanted a bigger place to show my talent and my passion and show that I can cook to people.” 

At the new location, Sethi said there will be a “full Indian menu, à la carte.” It will feature items with an average price of $14 including homemade butter chicken, tandoori chicken, tandoori fish, naan bread and Indian street food. There will also be gluten-free and vegan-friendly options available. 

Tandoori chicken is one of the items on the menu at Passage to India's new location at the Granite Springs Golf Club in Bayside. - Ryan Taplin/The Chronicle Herald
Tandoori chicken is one of the items on the menu at Passage to India's new location at the Granite Springs Golf Club in Bayside. - Ryan Taplin/The Chronicle Herald

With physical distancing guidelines in place, the new location will be able to host 50 people indoors and 60 people on an outdoor patio at a time. Takeout service is available as well. 

Sethi said she wants customers to see up close and personal how different Indian dishes are made in their new tandoor oven, which is a traditional clay oven that she grew up using back home in India, that brings back “old memories” from her homeland and reminds her of her grandmother. 

“I always wanted people who haven’t seen tandoor before to see how the naans are actually made and how tandoor can do (various) dishes,” she said. 

Sethi and her husband moved to Halifax from India in 1997 and 1992 respectively. The two opened up their first restaurant in the city, Indian Buffet Palace, in 2010. 

Sethi said Indian Buffet Palace was running for a few years, but due to a smaller Indian population in Halifax at the time, there was less of a demand for Indian food and a lack of professional Indian cooks to bring on board to run the restaurant. 

Still, the Sethis wanted to employ their passion for cooking, which is why they launched Passage to India. When it was running on Dalhousie's campus, Sethi said they received various comments from Indian students, like "Your food is just like home," and "This is like my mom's food."  

The family wants more people to try their food, which is why the new location's grand opening will feature a three-course buffet.  

Sethi recommends people make reservations by phoning 902-495-0508 or messaging Passage to India on Facebook to dine at the restaurant on its grand opening day, in order to avoid line-ups. 

“We want everybody to come and enjoy the homemade food,” she said. 

After the grand opening, the restaurant will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. for takeout on Mondays and Tuesdays and 1 to 9 p.m. for takeout and dine-in Wednesday to Sunday.

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