When a Dollarama opened next door to D.A.D.'s Bagels a few years ago, Kashmir Singh Randhawa knew his days were numbered.
"I played the waiting game," Randhawa said.
Now the waiting is over. His beloved bagel shop is closing today.
He and wife Kuldeep established their Notre-Dame-de-Grâce bagel shop 20 years ago at the corner of Sherbrooke Street West and Wilson Avenue.
They made bagels the old-fashioned way, in a wood-burning oven. Over time, their menu grew to include samosas and other staples of Indian homemade cuisine.
The community around D.A.D.'s Bagels grew as well. Randhawa said he came to be known as a father figure of NDG, with some people even calling him "granddaddy."
“We’re a family,” he said.
He said he supported the community for many years, donating food to the NDG Food Depot and holding fundraisers for various charitable organizations with a mission he deemed worthwhile. The community responded, and D.A.D.'s Bagels became a neighbourhood institution.
And so he was crushed to find out the owners of the building that houses his shop were not renewing his lease to make room for a Dollarama expansion, he said.
Love for, and from, NDG community
When Kashmir Singh Randhawa first came to Montreal, he had big dreams.
'Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and we’re putting them out.'- Kashmir Singh Randhawa, D.A.D.'s Bagels
He arrived in 1972 with wife Kuldeep, settling in NDG two years later. He worked on a variety of business ventures, first getting involved in the bagel game by way of R.E.A.L. Bagel.
In 1994, he set up a shop of his own on Sherbrooke Street West in the centre of a bustling residential neighbourhood.
He named his business Dad's Bagels, but had to register it as D.A.D.'s Bagel to get around Office québécois de la langue française regulations.
He employed between 10 and 12 people at any given time.
He was told he needed to vacate the premises a few months ago. He said his store's closure is a sign of a larger trend in NDG and lower Westmount.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and we’re putting them out," he said.
Despite his heartbreak, the 71-year-old Randhawa is looking forward to taking his first vacation in years — at home, with his family.
He said he will miss the NDG community around his shop deeply, and needs some time to heal emotionally before pondering possible future ventures.
“I always wanted to build a place where I can be attached to my community. I’m a Québécois. I’m a Montrealer,” Randhawa said.