For some people, entrepreneurial ventures just run through their veins. Muhammed Afzal is one of those people. He’s the owner of Sahar of Sudbury, a take-out Indian and Pakistani restaurant located in the Flour Mill.
In 2017, Afzal moved to Sudbury from Pakistan to open a pizza franchise called Papa Murphy’s. Quickly, he saw the need for an Indian restaurant with authentic food.
He split the space to make room for the dawning of Sahar of Sudbury. “Sahar” translates from Arabic to “dawn” or “the rising of the sun.”
Sahar of Sudbury opened just three short months before the pandemic began in 2019.
“I wanted great authentic Indian food like biryani and butter chicken in a price range that couples and families could afford. I wanted the price points to be in the $8 to $13 range. It is fine dining quality for take-out food,” Afzal said.
The butter chicken is the most ordered item from the menu. Another favourite is the savoury samosas. He said they are handmade on-site using potatoes, onions, lentils and meats.
“They are not purchased frozen and then reheated like at other restaurants. These are made homemade,” he said.
Afzal said customers have responded to his Indian takeout dishes with arms wide open. He has been researching the possibility of opening a sit-down restaurant on the Kingsway or Lasalle Boulevard as he believes location is everything.
“People come from Espanola, Chelmsford and Val Caron thanks to our combination of great marketing and great food. People from Toronto also often come, too. Travellers might like a place to sit and eat, too, which is why a sit-down restaurant will work.”
Fully aware of the Nickel City’s other Indian restaurants, and he said he is happy to have his customers taste test and explore other options. And then return. He knows they’ll return.
In addition to his own in-house delivery service, he has joined forces with all the other services available in the city, such as Skip the Dishes.
Azfal’s flair for business and food began in 2004 when he left Pakistan for the United Kingdom to study business. After completing his master’s degree, he started in the head office of a pizza franchise as a supervisor in 2013.
He started to conduct research on small town cities in Ontario for his next move. His goal was to find a place to start a business and raise a family.
“There were three options at the time: London, Peterborough and Sudbury. I am happy that Sudbury was my first choice and I am thankful for that.”
What about his favourites? Azfal said he never tires of lamb curry or chicken biryani. Biryani is a Muslim dish with fluffy rice. It can also be served with lamb or vegetables instead of chicken.
Anastasia Rioux is a freelance writer in Greater Sudbury.