BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
If you’ve ever had the chance to visit Lynn’s Buccoo Reef Restaurant, you’ll know that this isn’t your typical West Indian establishment.
Located at 284 Orenda Road, this charming little spot is it’s very own little tropical paradise. Painted in splashes of the vibrant colors of the reef, the azure blue of the ocean calls to you while the red provides a warmth reminiscent of the hot sun back home on the island of Trinidad.
Run by dynamic duo, Lynn Ali and her daughter-in-law Roxanne Tactay-Ali it was a dream long in the making. Hailing from Trinidad, as the oldest in a family of six Lynn was accustomed to cooking, preparing dinner for the family at home. She would make lunches and dinner for the family, enjoying the process and the opportunity to experiment in the kitchen. After graduating from school she went on to teach primary school for only a few short months and had further plans to go on to study nursing in England, when one of her uncles suggested they migrate to Canada instead. Lynn came to Canada in 1974, where she attended Humber College to update her credentials, while holding her passion for cooking at bay for the time being.
Lynn had lots of practice at home cooking all through her formative years, until she later met her husband, got married and had her only child, her son Ken. After buying their first house she decided to start her own catering company from the comfort of her own home. She would supply West Indian at the time and it gave her the opportunity to practice her skills. Unfortunately having to do everything herself was starting to become an arduous task. Without help it was becoming too much work for her to handle on her own. Lynn made the decision to quit her catering and ventured back out into the workforce gaining employment in the restaurant industry from roti shops in the area and learning how these businesses were operated. After a while working for someone else was proving difficult for Lynn, her employers all had their own ways of operating their business and preparing their food and she decided that she had enough.
At the time her son Ken decided he was getting married to his fiancé Roxanne. Roxanne and Lynn had bonded over cooking. They had enjoyed many days in the kitchen sharing tips and tricks to making a variety of West Indian dishes both enjoying spending time together, sharing in the same interest and passion. With Roxanne being from a Filipino background and Lynn from Trinidadian heritage, they each brought something unique to the table, Lynn sharing with her soon to be daughter-in-law Roxanne, that this was something she had always dreamed about putting together.
Roxanne’s background was in Advertising Marketing, where she had been working for five years. While on maternity leave she decided to spend some time upgrading her advertising qualifications. One of her courses assigned a project asking the question ‘If you were an entrepreneur what would you want to do?’ She remembered from many conversations with her mother-in-law the idea of opening their own restaurant, which seemed like something more of a pipe dream. Upon completing her project she had created the foundation of the restaurant without realizing it.
Roxanne ventured back out into the field once her maternity leave was over and soon realized that her heart was no longer in it anymore. She could no longer see herself working in the corporate world and taking that one course had inspired her to see the possibilities of being an entrepreneur from a fresh new perspective. Roxanne left her job, reinforced her partnership with her mother-in-law Lynn and Buccoo Reef Restaurant was born.
After acquiring the space, and tackling three months of renovations Buccoo Reef Restaurant officially opened for business on September 11th, 2015. Lynn’s Buccoo Reef offers a wide variety of authentic Trinidadian dishes. They strive to serve their guests fresh and flavorful dishes, using only the best spices and quality halal meats. All of the recipes are from Lynn’s creative mind, incorporating memories of her mother and grandmother’s cooking with tips she picked up over the years and more than a few of her own unique and delicious concoctions.
Their menu features a mix of Indian, Spanish and Creole inspired recipes with Buccoo Reef specials that include creatively named dishes like Jump Up and Whine Shrimp, Carnival Fried Chicken with Chow Mein, Maracas Bake and Shark, Surf and Turf and Soup for D’Soul. Every meal comes with a side of fresh salad, presented in the most colourful way possible, including West Indian favorites like stew chicken, curry goat, fish, shrimp, duck, chicken, aloo and anything else your heart desires.
With Lynn’s love and passion for experimenting with flavors and Roxanne’s out of the box thinking, everyday they think of a cool new idea that they can implement, always changing around the menu, putting out unconventional recipes and most of all listening to the needs of the customers, paying attention to what they would like to eat when they come to the restaurant for lunch or dinner.
Their goal at Buccoo Reef is to create an environment where the community can enjoy a little taste of Trinidad and the Caribbean here in Brampton. Their vibrant colour scheme and incorporations of Trinidadian culture, heritage and art is what makes their restaurant a home away from home. As a family of foodies they enjoy experimenting with new and exciting flavors to create a more modern take on West Indian cooking.
In the West Indian community it’s unconventional to see a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law work so close together in a business environment. Together they love owning and operating their own restaurant, basking in the creative freedom, following their dreams and staying positive through it all. Their unique relationship is not without challenges, but in the end they have the same goals in mind and wish to see their restaurant thrive. At Buccoo Reef the aim is to be the go to place in the community, a tropical escape, offering personable customer service, fresh and delicious food, making connections in the community and encouraging their competition to step up the game when it comes to West Indian run businesses.
Come in and try Lynn’s signature dishes – Curry duck, Stew Chicken with Macaroni Pie and Stew Salmon! Every meal comes with FREE DOUBLES!!!