Moving away from home for university can be exciting, however there seems to always be something missing — whether that be familiar faces, or familiar foods.
Such is the exact motivation behind the creation of The Roll Joint – a new, student run restaurant that operates on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“It was last summer, all of us get hungry at night and look for food, but don’t want to go out and even if you do, there aren’t many places open,” said Natun Dasgupta, co-founder of The Roll Joint.
After completing his undergrad at the University of Waterloo, Dasgupta, along with several other friends decided to fill the void of Indian street food felt by many students and the surrounding community.
“Getting a location was really hard, that was one of the main challenges in the beginning,” said Dasgupta. Now set up at 70 Dumart Place in Kitchener, The Roll Joint rents out a kitchen from a Caribbean bakery which only operates during the day.
A roll consists of a dough bread base with an egg cracked on top, topped off with either tofu or chicken and vegetables. Another customer favourite is their masala fries which are flavoured with their own concoction of traditional Indian spices.
The restaurant, in its first year of operation, has already been expanding its food options, having recently introduced a paneer roll for vegetarian customers. This past winter it was unfortunate — the restaurant wasn’t able to satiate the palettes of many students as weather conditions prohibited their delivery men from being on the roads.
“Since we only operate two days a week, we don’t want to waste any food. We’d rather sell less than waste food [sic]. We get enough [ingredients] for the day, but most days we have so many orders that we sell 130 rolls by 1:00,” said Dasgupta.
Having started with the minimum investment required, the founders wanted to gauge the response from the community before considering expanding their operations. Its success has prompted the restaurant to look into the possibility of operating a food truck in the summer months.
The contributing factor to their success is perhaps attributed to their delivery option, which is free for an order of just two rolls, in contrast to the large order minimums required by other restaurants.
This isn’t, however, the end of the road for The Roll Joint. The restaurant hopes to gain a larger footing within the community and in the future, would like to see the business operate out of its own building.