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Savouring the Past, Cooking Up the Future: Clay Oven's Makeover Under New Ownership

Clay Oven's new owners keep the name and traditional dishes, introducing new menu choices.

“I like the name and I don't want to change it,” according to Sharif Ahmed, who along with his wife Tahmina Akter, are the new owners of The Clay Oven. “I've added Tandoori Grill to the name but it's still the Clay Oven. I've known [previous owner] Syed for a long time and I want to keep the food and flavour the same. I don't want to change the butter chicken because that's the taste people are used to. I want to keep it the same but I also want people to try new dishes,” he said.

Sharif and Tahmina are originally from Bangladesh and moved to Canada in 2002. They have been in Guelph since 2008 where they owned their first restaurant that was subsequently sold in 2018. Sharif has worked as a restaurant consultant as well.“I really like small cities. Before I bought this restaurant I wanted to move to Acton and bought a property here on Lakeview,”he said.

“Our daughter is currently enrolled in French school in Guelph so it's not a good time to change residences.,” added Sharif. But he admits the strong restaurant culture in Acton was among the reasons that he was looking to open an eatery here. “We were attracted to Acton because people really love the food and the community is very supportive. I actually saw examples of that on social media and from our customers--people here are very welcoming.”

The couple has done a makeover to the 28-seat restaurant. The ceiling has been painted sparkling white and the walls a deep burgundy with black tablecloths under the place settings. Sharif has also hired a chef named Bupinder, “I have known him since 2006, and worked with him in Toronto and Guelph. His background is Nepalese and he's a very experienced chef,” he said.

The new family business has only been open for a week, but Sharif is already thinking of including some new items on the menu. “We are planning to add some Indian street food like momos, a kind of steamed dumpling, chicken or vegetarian, that you can get from food trucks in Bombay. We also make our samosas from scratch, and although it's not on the menu yet, some customers tried our Malay chicken the other day and really liked it. I want to earn your trust so people won't be scared to try new things.”


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