When Sohail Zaidi — Zee for short — bought Remedy Café in 2000, the shop that once sold tuna sandwiches and powdered drinks was transformed into a space filled with deep flavours, fresh ingredients, and a welcoming atmosphere.
Zee had not planned to work with food. He bought the café on a whim when he moved to Edmonton after driving a cab for many years in New York.
“I’d never made a coffee in my life, and when I bought (the café), the people didn’t even give me training for more than two hours and they left. And I took this ship and said, ‘I’m going to do it.’ And I did it,” Zee says.
He focuses on using ingredients that are fresh and unprocessed, as this makes the food healthier
“When I made my dahl for the first time, I said, ‘I’m not going to put in any ingredients that have been processed. I’m going to make a very good, raw, poor-people food like we make (in Pakistan),’ and that was a big success. So I took the creams out, and that became vegan,” Zee says.
There are many different dishes to try at Remedy, from classic butter chicken to chana masala, and almost everything can be made in a wrap. The original Remedy, before Zee’s ownership, sold basic sandwiches and muffins, but Zee says he found people were a lot more interested in his own cooking. He decided to use that interest to turn Remedy into what it is today.
The chai that Remedy is famous for comes from Zee’s mother’s recipe. He says he knew the chai he made at home was far better than any powdered mix could ever be. His version is made with real, fresh ingredients.
“I call them ‘alive ingredients,’ because if you put them in the ground, they grow. So that’s the pure ingredients I put in my chai — and very expensive black tea,” says Zee.
It’s not just the delicious food and drinks that bring people into Remedy every day, though. It’s also the personable atmosphere. Remedy is a place where everyone feels welcome, and where everyone can find something to savour.
“This is a people place. It’s not mine … I’m a very small, single drop in the ocean, and you guys are the ocean,” Zee says. “That’s why everybody loves this place.”
Students are welcome to spend their time studying at Remedy. All locations have free Wi-Fi and plenty of tables. For those who enjoy busy surroundings when they study, Remedy is a great fit. Once you claim your chair, you can spend as much time there as you like.
“What my philosophy is, when you come to Remedy, you take your jacket off and put it behind the chair, and that’s your place. You buy or don’t buy — that doesn’t matter. I’m so happy at least you chose Remedy to come to,” Zee says.
Although Zee says you’re welcome no matter what you buy, those who have been to Remedy would strongly suggest you try something tasty from the Remedy menu. And with so much to choose from, you may as well try something new — although those with favourites can attest to getting the same menu item over and over again.
Remedy is a great place to spend an afternoon studying, or to just spend some time at a nice café with a comfortable atmosphere.
“Be humble, be forward, and always be good,” Zee says. “I’m nothing. You guys are the ones who give me the opportunity to own a business.”
Remedy Café offers a wide selection of food items, and the samosas are a tasty treat to share, but you may want to keep them all to yourself. Filled with potato and aromatic herbs, they are great to snack on while studying.
The signature chai at Remedy Café is sweet and spicy. The chai syrup uses fresh spices and specialty black tea, and is a great way to change up your caffeine habits. Try it with a large selection of milks to suit your dietary needs.
Photography by Matthew Jacula.
10279 Jasper Ave. NW
Open Monday to Sunday