Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
Story by Curtis Snyder
Raj, like many fathers, has mixed emotions as he talks about the third generation of the Popat family leaving for another year of university, as we chat at his family operated business, Curry Express, in Bridgewater. His two daughters Jeenal and Kayla are back at Acadia and
Dalhousie in the middle years of their kinesiology and pharmacy programs. “The years go quickly”, he says.
Rajesh (Raj) Popat has called Bridgewater home since 1972. His parents, Vrajlal and Lalita, brothers Hitendra, Jayesh, and sisters Daxa and Pratibh came here from Uganda (via Gujarat, India) after an uncle recommended they leave Africa for Canada. His father quickly began a career at the newly opened Michelin plant while his mother took care of the children and their home.
In those days, many
people from Lunenburg
County had never heard
of a samosa, cilantro, or
even a mango or curry
powder. Raj’s wife Meena,
who emigrated from India
in 1992, commented that,
“the world has both grown
and shrunk since then”.
Now, the two of them work side-by-side preparing and selling various foods and spices for many hungry customers.
Since 2008, Curry Express has made its a mark on Lunenburg County and indeed on the whole of Atlantic Canada. Located on Aberdeen Road in Bridgewater, they specialize in a variety of Indian dishes for dining in, take-out, or catering. They offer a wide variety of meat and vegetable masalas and curries, breads such as naan and papadum, and several flavourful appetizers and desserts. The business has thirteen employees and they have seven products, made freshly by hand and from scratch,
available from every Sobeys store in Atlantic Canada. Raj and Meena have also adapted their cooking to include local flavours by creating a donair samosa.
When asked what advice he might offer a businessperson looking to come and live in Lunenburg County, Raj says simply, “We need more businesses”. He explains, “There is a need and desire for more shops offering ethnic foods, clothing and specialty items”. Half-jokingly, Meena chimes in and adds, “We have everything here that Toronto has except the traffic”.
When asked to offer advice to an immigrant family about living in Lunenburg County, Meena smiles broadly and says how, “safe the area is
for kids, how good the schools are at educating young people, and how beautiful are the many landscapes of the area”.
Almost 50 years have passed since the Popat family came to call Lunenburg County home. Since then they have persevered through thick and thin to make a successful business, raise their families and make many positive contributions to our area. Raj and Meena’s two daughters are attending two of Nova Scotia’s finest universities. The Popat family, their businesses and their cuisine are an important part of the local landscape.