The inspiration for Veg-In YYC came when owners Sehra and Manish Bindal noticed a shortage of vegetarian options downtown Calgary. As vegetarians themselves, they were tired of menus with meagre salads as the only meatless item and wanted to provide Calgary locals with homemade, natural plant-based options. Veg-In YYC offers an extensive menu that reflects a fusion of both Western and Traditional Indian recipes and strives to continuously innovate while keeping fan favourites.
When they first opened, Sehra and her husband were nervous about the market. Calgary has a steakhouse history, leaving them unsure about the number of customers that were looking for plant-based alternatives. They initially purchased the rights to Starbucks and sold coffee at the restaurant, hoping people would come in for Starbucks and pick up some plant-based foods while they were there. To their surprise, people didn’t come in for coffee at all, they were there for the food.
When the pandemic first hit, they initially closed for two weeks. After two weeks they felt pressure from their consumers to re-open and finally felt comfortable enough with the guidelines to do so. They currently operate on both Uber Eats and Door Dash but plan to discontinue their Uber account post-pandemic due to hefty commission fees. As for sales, they’ve seen a great reduction due to their location. Veg-In YYC is located right downtown, and the shift to remote work has caused their typical lunch rush to suffer.
“70% of the downtown area is vacant right now,” estimates Manish Bindal. “There just isn’t the same downtown traffic as before. If we get our lunch rush back, we’ll be okay.”
The menu at Veg-In YYC can be described as intense. They have endless vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. From traditional Indian foods to “veggitos” (veggie burritos), they have something for everyone. Fortunately, through this pandemic, they haven’t had to downsize their menu offerings. The same cannot be said for many other local Calgary restaurants, who have found their large menus to be too costly alongside ingredient sourcing troubles.
As a family-owned business, they run a simple operation. Sehra works at the restaurant full-time, cooking all menu items from scratch, and her son helps when he’s not away at University. As for Manish, he’s a former lawyer
“The need for plant-based cuisine is growing,” Manish explains. “More people want to go plant-based, and we hope that we can continue to help them with that journey.”
For more information on Veg-In YYC, please visit https://www.veginyyc.com/.