By Simon Hopkins
Sourabh Chalotra was worried that he might lose some of his most faithful clients when he closed his food truck and moved to Westboro.
To his delight, new and familiar faces have visited the tea shop’s new storefront. “They all came back,” he said. “That was the best part.”
Chalotra founded Seven Tea Miles three years ago, selling chai and Indian street snacks from a food truck at the intersection of Merivale and Clyde. The civil engineer took a leap of faith and chased his dream of being a business owner. “It keeps me excited,” he said. “You have to do what you love.”
Chalotra’s brother, Karam Singh, has worked with Chalotra since the beginning. He, too, has been thrilled with the neighbourhood’s reception to the new store. ”Everything is going so well,” he said. “More than we expected.”
Chalotra, originally from Delhi, India, wanted to bring the best tea possible to Ottawa. “It’s hard to find really good tea here, so I’m trying to solve that,” he explained.
The truck business was booming from day one and quickly outgrew its mobile shop. Needing more space and wanting to stay open throughout Ottawa’s cold winters, the tea shop has taken up residence on Richmond Road, a few steps west of Churchill Street.
The store smells of warm spice from their freshly made tea blends. Regular customers, like Justin Smith, sit and sip chai.
“Their food truck was right by our house,” Smith said, explaining how he and his partner would regularly stop at their counter. After the store’s move, the couple started coming to the Richmond Road storefront.
Chalotra’s brother, Singh, crafts drinks behind the counter. “We have chai with milk, chai without, iced chai – we have a lot of options.”
Spices like cinnamon, cloves and saffron are blended with tea to make a wide variety of flavours, which range from fruity to perfumy. Chalotra explained that they import their tea from Assam, a state in India known for tea growing.
“It’s top-quality ingredients. You won’t find chai like this anywhere,” he said.
Next in their business ventures will be tea blends packaged for sale. Customers can take home their favourite flavours for a bit of spice in their own kitchens. But if you want the real deal made by professionals and adorned with rose petals, you’ll have to make your way to Westboro.
Westboro celebrates Small Business Month
In October, the Westboro Village Business Improvement Area will celebrate nationally recognized Small Business Month. The BIA acts as a unified voice for businesses in Westboro Village. They provide joint advertising and promotion and advocate for improvements needed for the business area.
Judy Lincoln, the President of Westboro’s BIA, said that they’re excitedly welcoming new businesses to Westboro.
“It’s really exciting to see people willing to take the risk of entrepreneurship,” she said. According to Lincoln, businesses in Westboro are finding ways to thrive despite challenges.
“We are really fortunate,” she said. “We actually have less street-level vacancy than we had before COVID.”
New businesses are opening throughout the area, and the BIA is there to support and help businesses succeed.
“We do everything from training to networking to marketing,” Lincoln said.
The organization is there to support the passion that all owners have for their businesses.