Burrito Shack now in the Glebe

By Ashwin Shingadia

Employees of the Burrito Shack on Bank Street (from left, Noahm Ellis, Kendra Herlihey, Omar Abboud, manager-chef Musie Waili) lend a young vibe to the new Tex-Mex restaurant. Photo: Ashwin Shingadia

Employees of the Burrito Shack on Bank Street (from left, Noahm Ellis, Kendra Herlihey, Omar Abboud, manager-chef Musie Waili) lend a young vibe to the new Tex-Mex restaurant. Photo: Ashwin Shingadia

I met the owner of the taco restaurant Burrito Shack, which opened in March at 775 Bank Street, to hear about this new venture in the Glebe. Talaal Baroudi was born and educated in Canada, is married with children, plays hockey and is an old hand at the restaurant business. He also owns Milano Pizzeria at 44 Seneca Street in Old Ottawa South, El Capitano Taco Stand at 154 Merivale Road as well as the Burrito Shack at 437 Sunnyside Avenue near Carleton University, which opened a year ago in July.

Musie Waili, manager-chef of Burrito Shack, joined Baroudi in June a year ago, working at El Capitano, and now runs both Burrito Shacks. Born in Iraq, he came to Canada in 1991 at an early age and was educated at Carson Grove, Henri Munro and Gloucester schools, then at Everest College. His interest in cooking started young. “All my life I have been cooking – my mother had to kick me out of the kitchen,” he said, but he also has training in accountancy. He is an autodidact – buys books and recipes, aiming for perfection until the taste is at its best. “Now I am working on supplies to have stability and loyalty, to be able to grow profit.”

How is Burrito Shack different from other Mexican restaurants?

Waili suggests, “We are more Tex-Mex; Feleena’s across the road is more traditional and does not represent competition.” Burrito Shack has more variety and more homemade products. The Shack has five homemade sauces and “unique corn tortillas for taco,” while other places use only flour. It also has Mexican poutine (no gravy), with homemade-jalapeno cheese sauce. The restaurant’s specialty is fish tacos made of fresh wild white cod supplied from the ocean direct from Nova Scotia. “We pay extra to get it,” said Waili.

A full menu and prices are posted on their website at www.bank.burritoshack.ca. Items can be ordered online and delivered. They also cater for parties, weddings and government departments. The menu offers burritos, quesadillas, nachos, tacos (choice of gluten free, soft corn or flour, with choice of chicken or pork; tostadas, salads (a specialty is kale salad), Mexican poutine and Mexican desserts – doughnut or cruller sprinkled with sugar. Prices range from $3.50 for a taco to over $11 for a platter.

While Sunnyside concentrates on take-out and delivery, employing six people, the Bank Street Burrito employs twelve, all under 30 years of age. Noahm Ellis (see photo), came from Israel, grew up in Ottawa and is a first year student at Carleton. Kendra Herlihey from Barrhaven worked at El Capitano as a server, but now prepares food. Omar Abboud from Jordan is a third year student in economics and business at Carleton. All employees work as a team – there is no hierarchy. Everyone does all jobs as needed, under the direction of the manager-chef.

Baroudi and Waili have very ambitious plans. “We have skilled employees and suppliers. As we grow, they grow with us.” They hope to establish another “shack” in four or five months, eventually growing to some 10 outlets in Ottawa, with stable suppliers, reasonable returns on investment and an easy to replicate franchise.

We wish them the best of luck and success – welcome to the Glebe!

Ashwin Shingadia is a Glebe resident and frequent contributor to the Glebe Report.

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