With its bustling kitchen, sleek dining counter and line up of masked customers awaiting meals, you’d never know an SUV crash reduced Kuku’s Restaurant to rubble just over a year ago.
On Thursday (Dec. 10) afternoon, owner Randy Madhar and his wife, Anita, rushed around the Saanich kitchen answering phones and filling orders as the smell of channa masala and butter chicken wafted through the air. This was only their second day after reopening and despite only telling friends and family, orders were flooding in.
“It’s been really busy,” Madhar said, adding that the neighbourhood was quick to take notice of the neon open sign and made their way in. “The support is just crazy.”
He was pleased to finally turn that open sign back on – “after a year and five days, it feels really great.”
On Dec. 4, 2019, just before 9 a.m., the driver of an SUV crashed through the Indian restaurant – near the intersection of Burnside Road West and Harriet Road – demolishing the front end of the building. The driver continued another 80 metres before coming to a stop.
The driver sustained minor injuries and, luckily, no one was inside or walking by at the time.
“That would have been really bad,” Madhar said, adding that he was supposed to be in at 8:30 that morning but was running late.
The ongoing pandemic played a big role in extending the closure, Madhar said. Not only did the old building require extensive repairs, but COVID-19 made it difficult to get inspectors and contractors into the restaurant. He was grateful insurance covered most of the repairs and said anything else will go through ICBC.
In January, Kuku’s Restaurant marks 12 years in Saanich and Madhar joked that with all the barriers they faced this year, it was harder to reopen than it was to open as a new business in 2009.
While Madhar was looking forward to seeing the finished renovations and getting back to work, he was most excited to see his regulars again as many are like family.
However, the long closure did allow the Madhars to take a well-deserved break – before the closure, they hadn’t taken more than 10 days off in 12 years.
“It was a big break. I’m good for another 10 years,” he said with a laugh. “We’re back open, we’ve got your home-cooking meals back in action.”
Madhar’s go-to is the lamb curry but noted that the dinner special is the most popular.