Sushen Kakkar saw an opportunity in the market.
Actually, two markets: the ByWard Market and the milkshake market.
Opening in fall 2022, For God Shakes is a premium milkshake bar at the corner of Dalhousie and St. Andrew streets on the outskirts of the ByWard Market.
The brick and mortar milkshake mart at 204 Dalhousie St. is the latest upscale and niche business to open in a city that fun might be remembering again.
The 24-year-old Kakkar is a permanent resident from the Indian state of Punjab. He came to Canada in 2018 to study hotel and restaurant management, the latter being Kakkar’s primary interest.
“I always wanted to open a restaurant in the future so that’s why I chose hotel and restaurant management so that I can get in this industry and know a lot about it,” said Kakkar.
Kakkar graduated from the two-year program in 2019 and worked various jobs in the Ottawa restaurant scene to save up money and experience and start his own business. He originally wanted to open a bar but ultimately put those plans on hold during the pandemic.
Customers are known to mix his milkshakes with alcohol, but Kakkar isn’t interested in a liquor licence for now.
Kakkar is a self-described “foodie” but he found the selection of high-end food in Ottawa to be lacking.
“I see a lot of milkshake stuff in Miami. My friends go there, they enjoy, send pictures, so I was like, why not here?” said Kakkar.
Inside, customers are greeted by an Instagram wall that gives the bar a modern look and provides Kakkar with free marketing when customers post pictures of themselves at his business. His elaborate milkshakes that can be topped with cookies, marshmallows and candy are Pinterest-board worthy.
The business has been doing well, according to Kakkar, who says he has already received emails and calls inquiry about franchising.
While Kakkar isn’t quite ready to expand his brand, he does have higher aspirations for the budding business.
“I’m not rushing right now. I want to keep it and go slow, hopefully another location soon,” said Kakkar.
Hoping to better establish his business, Kakkar is banking on a busy summer. He already has plans for a new, even fancier, milkshake menu that will come out for the summer season.
“If something is coming from me it should be perfect,” said Kakkar, succinctly summarizing his business philosophy.
His customers agree.
Shade Narcisse, an Ottawa food TikToker and Instagram blogger, is a regular at For God Shakes. Narcisse says the bar is a “fresh” and “cute” idea to bring to Ottawa.
“The flavours are diversified, so anyone can find something they like,” said Narcisse, whose favourite drink is a Ferrero Rocher milkshake topped with whipped cream.
Narcisse, who runs the Ottawa food scene Instagram page Eatwshadou, says the bar is very “Instagrammable,” and likes that customers can keep the bottles the milkshakes are served in.
The reusable bottles are popular. Customers can bring bottles back for discounts on their milkshakes. Return 10 bottles for a free milkshake.
And customers are returning.
Kakkar has been surprised by the level of success the business has achieved in just a few off-season months.
The young businessman now has his sights set on the busy summer season and becoming a Canadian citizen. The latter may be the biggest hill to climb for Kakkar who speaks confidently about his blooming business in the ByWard market.