Sushen Kakkar says one or two people have complained about his milkshake bar’s irreverent name, but most take it in the playful spirit he intends.
The name, For God Shakes, was inspired by a healthy love of wordplay and Kakkar’s own habit of saying “for God’s sake” a little too often, he says.
He certainly admits to uttering a nervous oath or two when his milkshake bar — Ottawa’s first, according to Kakkar — finally opened at 204 Dalhousie St. in the ByWard Market last fall.
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“When I finally opened it was October and I thought, ‘In a few months it’s going to be winter, snow and all that.’ But I got a really good response. Really, really good. I’m glad people like it,” he says.
He says business has been steady, aside from an early January lull, and he’s excited to head into his first summer. The shake shop will launch a new menu for April and the store will expand hours to capitalize on the sunny weather.
The current menu on the website is enough to make even the sweetest tooth happy. For $14, customers can go all out with such delights as The Joy of Oreo, Lemon Lavender or Mr. & Mrs. Candy. For $11, chocolate lovers can indulge in Smarties do Parties, Rocket to Mars and Over the Snickers — chocolate add-ons extra. For $9, there are vegan and lactose-free options, as well as classic chocolate, vanilla and strawberry shakes. That’s not to mention the “pancake towers” and other classic desserts.
With its playful name, sugar-rich offerings and Dalhousie storefront, For God Shakes seems well situated to capitalize on late-night Market revelers with the munchies. But Kakkar says because the shop is a little north of the nightlife it attracts a surprising number of neighbourhood families.
“It’s for everyone,” he says. “I have all kinds of milkshakes which are suitable for kids. I have milkshakes which are suitable for older people. It’s for all ages.”
Kakkar is originally from the city of Amritsar in India, where his family runs a jewelry business. He came to Canada as an international student in 2018 and studied hotel and restaurant management at Algonquin College, where he says he learned a lot. He worked at various restaurants after graduation but always had the idea of launching his own business.
“Because of my background, my family do business. I always wanted to open something and start a business myself,” he says.
At first, Kakkar hoped to open a licensed bar but changed tack when the pandemic took a bite out of his savings. He worked briefly at a milkshake bar in Amritsar before coming to Canada, but says he was really inspired by his friends’ social media posts from milkshake bars in Miami, Fla.
“They were posting pictures and there were some very fancy milkshakes and I was like, man, that looks amazing and there’s nothing like that in Ottawa,” he explains.
Kakkar immediately thought of the visitors who flock to Ottawa’s downtown and the ByWard Market each summer and decided he could serve up something just as cool and just as sweet.
According to his website, “We serve 100 per cent flavourful milkshakes made with 100 per cent pure love and originality. It is a place to enjoy your shakes with a natural and peaceful interior.”