Fresh, local, quality.
Those are the words Danny Dahdouh uses to describe the restaurant he’s opening on the corner of Kinchant Street and St. Laurent Avenue.
The restaurant — named Heavy D’s BBQ — is part of a family-run chain which includes Saboos Bread Factory in North Vancouver and Saboos Pizza & Grill in Chilliwack.
Dahdouh’s sister, Danielle Dahdouh, and brother-in-law, Gino Jamali, are the co-founders of the company, with Dahdouh acting as a director. All of the recipes are family recipes, created by Gino.
“My brother-in-law has put over 20 years into [the food], with his ingredients and his recipes before he ever exposed it to people. It was just trial and error,” says Dahdouh. He says Jamali wouldn’t let anyone try the food until it was perfect.
“Hundreds of hours have been put into this,” he adds. “It is not going to be your average food. It’s going to be very unique.”
Many of the spices they cook with are homemade, and Heavy D’s will use their own recipe for the bread they serve, but will have it baked by the Quesnel Bakery. He says the recipe will remain secret, however, and all the bread made will be used in his restaurant and nowhere else.
Dahdouh says he will also be getting all his meat from Cariboo Sausage, and all his produce from local vendors as well.
The main dish at the restaurant will be pulled pork, but shawarma, smoked meat wraps, fusion smoked tacos, and falafel all appear on the menu — and will be cooked by Dahdouh himself when the restaurant opens. The portions are big too; Dahdouh says he can’t even finish one of his sandwiches.
When he speaks about the restaurant, Dahdouh’s confidence and excitement are almost tangible. He is so confident, in fact, that he signed a twenty-year lease for the restaurant.
Dahdouh is renovating the space himself, building the bar and the lights and everything in between.
The space is small, meant to accommodate approximately 30 customers at a time — but Dahdouh says that’s the way he likes it. Intimate, not out of control.
He plans to keep it staffed by family only for the near future, to ensure they have the best customer service possible.
Before becoming involved in the family business, Dahdouh says he spent much of his career working in customer service.
“I know customer service,” he adds. “The first impression is really important to us; we want that bang right off the hop. We want that ‘wow’ feature.”
In the city, Dahdouh says the other restaurants have five-star ratings, and he is aiming for the same thing in Quesnel.
The restaurant will also deliver he says, and though he’s still working out the kinks, Dahdouh expects they will deliver for free within a 15 kilometre radius of the restaurant, and charge a fee for anything further.
Although he thinks he’s still about three weeks away from opening the restaurant, Dahdouh says everyone he has encountered seems excited about it.
“I have people walking by saying, ‘I can’t even walk by because the banner is making me hungry,’ and I’m just like: ‘just a few more weeks,’” says Dahdouh.
Originally from White Rock and North Delta, Dahdouh moved to Quesnel with his three kids last May.
“I want to make a move, I want to get away from the busy city,” says Dahdouh. As a single father, he says it was difficult to make ends meet in the city.
So he moved to Bouchie Lake. And so far, the area has made a good impression: “I love it here.”
His sisters laugh and nod their agreement when he adds: “I’m a country kind of boy.”
In approximately three weeks, Dahdouh is planning to host a big opening event, where he says he is expecting approximately 400 people to cycle in throughout the day and sample some of the items on his menu. He says he’s also expecting some guests from City Hall on the big day.
There is no firm date yet.