Part of being a success in business is recognizing an opportunity when it presents itself.
And when Shannon Walls looked around at the local restaurant community in the Squamish area and saw an abundance of traditional fare - burgers and fries - being served up, and little that stood out as unique.
So, what if she shook up the status quo and offered something so different, yet approachable, that customers beat a path to her restaurant door?
Three years ago, Saha Eatery’s 32-seat location was opened in downtown Squamish (38128 2nd Ave.). And since then, it has been serving up Lebanese-Moroccan cuisine with a twist to an ever-growing base of customers.
“There really wasn’t much variety in Squamish and I was looking to bring in some new flavours for people to try,” Walls says.
That’s when she enlisted the culinary expertise of chef Jeramy Duckworthand convinced him to leave Ontario and take up the challenge of helping run a standout restaurant in the middle of nature’s outdoor playground along the Sea-to-Sky corridor.
“Jeramy’s passion has been Lebanese-Morrocan food for the past 20 years,”Walls says. “It’s a healthy cuisine that lends itself well to everyone.
“It offers such a wide variety of flavours, is super tasty and people love it. It’s also approachable for people who maybe haven’t tried it before with chicken and salmon kabobs, falafels and the deep fried cauliflower, which is one of our most popular dishes.”
The menu is also perfect to share family-style and progressive enough to cater to vegetarians and vegans alike.
“Along with an increased interest in plant-based diets, there are also those who are looking for gluten-free options, whichis great as most of our menu isgluten-free,” Walls says.
Then, there’s the “twist” - something probably best interpreted by Saha poutine.
It features hand-cut skinny fries with mujadrah (rice, lentils, quinoa and caramelized onions), halloumi (brined cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk), tahini (a sauce made from sesame seeds), hot sauce, and is finished with a sprinkling of feta cheese and crispy fried onions.
“It’s very popular,” Walls says.
With the menu sorted, Walls says she enlisted her experience in the hospitality and tourism industries to set up a staffing and customer service philosophy.
“It was a big learning curve into the restaurant business, however customer service is about how you treat people,” she says. “It doesn’t really matter what industry you are in - treat people well and they will return, especially if the food is great.”
For more information about Saha Eatery, visit online at sahaeatery.ca.