Sonia and Ramesh Devangodi have, in Ramesh's words, "a love marriage". They met when he came to Edmonton to work as a chef in her father's restaurant, New Asian Village. Sonia picked him up at the airport, and it was love at first sight. For Ramesh, who left his home country of India to come to Winnipeg 10 years ago and then moved to Edmonton for the New Asian Village job, it was the right time to get married. Two years after he landed here, they tied the knot.
Their dream was to open their own restaurant. Sitting in their West Edmonton New Asian Village, Ramesh proudly says, "We started from scratch. This one used to be a bakery before." Sonia's 2 sisters each run a New Asian Village too, and Sonia and Ramesh recently opened their second one on Edmonton's North side. There are 4 locations now, all run by the sisters, and a 5th one opening soon in Sherwood Park. Explains Sonia, "People are fascinated by the story, but it's hard work. We each work really hard." The family meets every 2 months or so to discuss their restaurants. "We all sit down, have our paper, pens, and my dad gives us the ... rules and regulations. If you’re running a New Asian Village this is my expectations, and if you guys can’t meet them, get rid of the name, take the name down." Sonia smiles, "He's hardcore." She adds, "I think we've learned a lot from my dad."
The Devangodis are not just all about work, though. They have 2 boys, aged 6 and 2. Ramesh says, "The main motive is the kids, right. If they're good...that's all you need. Money comes and goes."
Sonia adds, "Well, we're family people. Like, now that we have kids ... my biggest belief actually is that our children are our biggest assets. You know, I've mellowed down a lot on work. I was working like 7 days a week, 12 hour days. My kids need me and this is the time that I have to give to them, because [if I don't] I'll regret it later. So for fun we just hang out with them. We take them to Kinsmen swimming pool and bowling ... Actually I spend a lot of time at the YMCA because he's in swimming, he's in hockey, he's in badminton, he's in tae kwon do. We're busy people."
Sonia's already dreaming of the future. Her sisters also have children, and Sonia hopes the cousins will be close, "There are 3 cousins, same age. I think in the future they'll want to take over. Yeah, they're going to be running New Asian Village."
Recently, Ramesh recalls, his 6-year-old came to the restaurant. He grabbed business cards from the front and started handing them out to customers. He's done it twice. They have to hide the cards when he comes now. Sonia adds, "Our older son is just like an identical copy of my father. He loves people."
Sonia & Ramesh Devangodi
Sonia and Ramesh Devangodi own and operate the West side and North side New Asian Villages in Edmonton. Ramesh is the executive chef and likes coming up with new recipes. Sonia's favourite part of the business is meeting the customers and running the front of the house.