A neighbourhood favourite for authentic Sichuan noodles is closing its doors next week, on June 26.
Chongqing Noodle House in Continental Mall on Sexsmith Road offers spicy noodles and other Sichuan dishes at affordable prices. The noodles are one of a kind - handmade by owner Gigi Guo with her tried and tested recipe.
Guo decided to open the restaurant six years ago because she loved Chongqing noodles, and she needed flexible hours to take care of her family.
Guo runs the restaurant with her parents, who would take over while she picked up her kids. The three of them even ran the restaurant by themselves during the height of the pandemic, until the chef's recent return.
Chongqing Noodle House is a family business through and through, as it also features authentic recipes contributed by Guo's sister who's currently based in Chongqing.
But the community will only get to eat at this eatery for another week.
Guo told the News that rising costs is partly why she made the difficult decision to close the business, since she can no longer afford to hire five employees, or maintain affordable prices while continuing to use high quality ingredients.
"I don't want to lower the quality of my noodles," she said.
Guo also wants to take time off to take care of her family, especially her parents who have been working tirelessly at the restaurant.
"For the last two and a half years, only my family are here [at the restaurant] and my parents got really tired because we've never worked like this [with just the three of us]... They have back pain or leg pain...
"I can't do this anymore just by myself," Guo explained.
Looking back on fond memories
As Guo prepares to say goodbye to a beloved community, she still remembers her first day of opening very vividly.
"The first day I opened my shop... Yeah it was a disaster actually, it's so messy!" Guo told the News.
Not only did Guo run out of change and had to enlist her uncle's help to get more from TD Bank across the mall, she also ran out of her signature handmade noodles and had to prepare them on the spot.
"So messy! But you know, [even though] it's so short, you still remember the first day you're open," said Guo.
Guo also remembers her customers fondly, especially those who have been there since the beginning.
"For our old customers we know their faces. So we always ask them, 'Hey, we changed the noodle recipe. How do you feel? If [you don't like it] we're gonna adjust it,'" she said.
But this goodbye might not be forever, since Guo is considering starting another business after taking a well-deserved break.
From now until June 25, the restaurant is offering a 10 per cent discount for the whole menu and 15 per cent for individual orders over $20.
"I know there's a lot of restaurants, they're like me - really struggling... I hope everyone can get through and the economy can go back. I want to thank my customers also. I guess without them keep coming to my shop, we [would have closed much] earlier than this!" said Guo.