Biz in the Bay – New owner brings spicy new twist to old favourite

Sarge Tiwana hopes a fresh change at Willows Park Grocery will introduce a new batch of customers to the Oak Bay institution.

Sarge Tiwana

Sarge Tiwana

Sarge Tiwana hopes a fresh change at Willows Park Grocery will introduce a new batch of customers to the Oak Bay institution.

Tiwana took over the Eastdowne Road convenience store on Dec. 1, and one of the first changes he made was to add authentic Indian food to the lineup of products available.

Now customers can enjoy samosas, pakoras and curry, among other dishes, made fresh on-site twice a week.

“Indian food is a niche, and if you can crack it, it’s a winning formula,” says Tiwana. “Because there isn’t anywhere around here that does proper, authentic Indian food.”

A menu of current offerings is posted next to the till, and Tiwana also uses Facebook to share the menus with customers.

Tiwana bought the 100-year-old store from previous owner Neil McDonald after posting an ad on the UsedVictoria website looking for a store to run. He has plenty of experience, having operated a similar shop in Lapworth, England, for 17 years.

And though he’s made the one significant change, much of the store remains the same. In fact, Quon Lowe, the owner prior to McDonald who has been a fixture in the community for more than 40 years, still lives next door and works the odd shift now and then.

So far, reception has been slow, but customers are warming to the changes.

“It’s been good,” says Tiwana. “It’s going to take time, but I’m going to keep plugging away.”