BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
If you hail from the beautiful tropical island of Trinidad, you’ll be familiar with one of their tastiest and most flavourful street foods, doubles. There’s nothing like a hot doubles with a little bit of pepper to wake you up in the morning!
The flavours of Trinidadian style cooking invoke memories of your mother’s kitchen back home, and for restaurant owner Vishnu Bridgemohan, he always dreamed of bringing those same recipes to a restaurant of his own.
Born and raised in south Trinidad, in the town of Barrackpore, Vishnu was raised in a family with very strong morals and values. His parents instilled in him the teachings of the Hindu faith, and though they were not wealthy, they made sure to provide everything they could for their children. In a family of six boys and four girls, Vishnu hoped that one day, all of his siblings could unite and conquer the world. “There wouldn’t be anything that we couldn’t do,” he shares.
Vishnu left Trinidad in 1988, after losing a job promotion to one of the best jobs he could have attained in the country. Feeling robbed of that opportunity and disappointed that there was no potential for advancement in his homeland, he immigrated to Canada in search of a brighter, more prosperous future.
His parents questioned his decision to come to Canada, having seen two of their sons struggle in America. They tried to discourage him from leaving, but Vishnu had made up his mind. He secured his travel documents and a one-way ticket, and came to Canada in search of new opportunities.
Upon arriving in Canada, Vishnu was sure of one thing – he didn’t want to ask anyone for help. Although he had an aunt and uncle living here, he wanted to stand on his own two feet, and figure out how he was going to make a living by himself. He saw “Help Wanted” signs everywhere, and soon began working in a factory, with the hope of saving some money.
Coming from the islands, he wasn’t used to the types of food offered here in Canada. He had no desire to eat hamburgers or hot dogs, and recalls the first time he ate a bagel at his workplace. It was so tough, it brought tears to his eyes. Growing up in Trinidad, he had become accustomed to eating five home cooked meals a day. “I told myself from that moment on, this place needed a restaurant or roti shop like my mother’s kitchen,” Vishnu explained.
From then on, his dream became to establish a roti shop with home cooked meals like those from his childhood. Vishnu saved up enough money and then sought investment advice from his aunt and uncle. Unfortunately for him, they borrowed his money and invested it in their travel agency. It was a regrettable setback, and he resolved to use his mistake as a learning experience. Vishnu decided to focus his attentions elsewhere and help bring the rest of his family to Canada.
In 2006, he returned to Trinidad to marry Sunita. When they came back to Canada, Vishnu didn’t want his wife to work, as he would have preferred for her to stay at home. However, they discovered staying at home in Canada wasn’t the same as in Trinidad, so Sunita began working until they decided to start a family. With both of them working, they took extra care to put aside money to fund their dream of one day opening a restaurant.
Growing up, Vishnu often helped out in the kitchen after his big sister got married, and gained valuable experience preparing food for poojas and other festivals in his village. In addition to his own culinary skills, Sunita’s parents had taught her how to make doubles. After their wedding, she spent time with her in-laws, and learned Vishnu’s mother’s style of cooking. Together, they took Sunita’s doubles-making experience and Vishnu’s mother’s recipes to form Vishnu’s Roti and Doubles Shop.
Vishnu’s Roti and Doubles was established in 2010, and specializes in the home cooked comfort foods of Trinidad. They offer hot and fresh meals, doubles and roti, with a selection of savory curries to satisfy your cravings whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Located at 10215 Kennedy Road North in Brampton, they have recently taken over a larger unit in the same plaza to better accommodate their patrons. Although running a small business, especially a restaurant, has its challenges, Vishnu enjoys being able to provide his customers with authentic Trinidadian cuisine and quality meals. Both he and his wife spend countless hours at the restaurant and he hopes that in the future, he can spare more time to spend with his children and the rest of his family.
One of the most rewarding aspects of owning his own restaurant is the ability to meet his countrymen from back home, and to be able to serve and converse with them in the warm and inviting atmosphere of his restaurant. Vishnu is a people person, very friendly and outgoing, and is always looking to lend a helping hand or offer some much needed advice. “It’s a blessing to be able to give good advice,” says Vishnu, and his customers appreciate that he welcomes everyone with open arms. Many of them have been regular customers since the restaurant was opened six years ago.
“Our restaurant is for people who know doubles, who like doubles, and want to get to know about doubles,” shares Vishnu. Their focus is on customer satisfaction, and hope that everyone will stop by to sample their great tasting food and find out what they’re missing, adding that “people love the roti and curry with a Red Solo.”
Vishnu is very thankful to God for answering his prayers. He would like to extend his gratitude and appreciation to all of their loyal customers, friends and family who have supported them on their journey, as well as the employees who make everything possible. He misses the other roti and doubles shops he used to visit before opening his own, and thanks them for inspiring and sustaining him when he first came to Canada.
Vishnu’s Roti and Doubles offers great tasting authentic Trinidadian cuisine in an inviting and homey environment. Regardless of the time of day, Vishnu invites everyone to come by and enjoy a hot, fresh meal, or to just relax and unwind after a long day. Stop by, and join a fellow countryman for a taste of de Caribbean!