I’m not sure if it’s bending to the wishes of the masses or if someone running the show is experimenting, but WickedChili.ca restaurant seems to be trying many different strategies to get the people there. The last time I was here in June, it was a week into their opening. With four months under its belt now, here are the small and not-so-small changes.
1. They have put up a wall, a distinct separation, between them and their counterpart, the Vietnamese Green Papaya, who share the large restaurant space. To clearly emphasize their Indian specialty, they have toned down the melon green walls to two harmonious rich colors. Indian art decorate the wall space with a gold statue of a god standing at the front door. I think this change makes for a much more cohesive, appealing atmosphere. I feel more settled knowing what I am getting when I walk in. Before, it was very strange to walk into the large space, sit in any table or booth, and order from either the Indian menu or Vietnamese menu.
2. It’s $12.95 for their buffet. But, for those needing takeout, they offer 3 convenient boxes now, ranging from $6 to $10. Rice with one side. Rice with two sides. Rice with three sides. Papadum complementary. Additional charges for naan, salads, etc. I think people will take advantage of the smaller portions and the smaller price. Last time, I filled up a takeout container from the buffet for the same price as if I were dining in.
3. From 1.30pm to 5pm, they offer Happy Hour. There are drink (beer from $3 to $5 and pop / tea for $1.50) and appetizer specials (veggie pakoras – 50cents each, fish pakora – about $1,25 each, meat samoas – about $1.25 each, tandoori chicken – $1 each). Papadum is free. You can order from the menu at 15% discount during Happy Hour too. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a Happy Hour at an Indian restaurant but it’s an interesting strategy to compete with the neighboring pub during slow hours.
I had initially went in to grab a lunch box to take home but saw their sign for Happy Hour. I phoned my husband to come down and chill with me. The server was then smart to upsell the buffet at 15% off (roughly $10) instead of my first thought to just grab a few pieces of samosas and a beer. Twenty five dollars later, I’d say their Happy Hour hook worked. Nice job.
In 4 months, WickedChili.ca is trying to make a viable business. The food isn’t too bad. Not spicy enough for me but tasty, filling and hot. We were there at 1.45pm and their side of the restaurant was about 50% full the hour or so while we ate. Considering it was after the lunch rush, I thought that was a good sign that there was a stream of people coming in.
They have a suggestion box at the front doors if you need to make an opinion. Like I said before, I can’t tell if they are trying to design the restaurant based on popular demand or whether they are just learning by trial and error as they see the needs arise. We’ll see.