Estela Chow is hoping to have Lady Luck on her side as she ventures into Timmins’ restaurant scene. She is definitely generating good karma by always looking to help others less fortunate.
Chow has opened the Lady Luck Restaurant and Buffet in Downtown Timmins. What makes it unique is that it offers Filipino and Canadian cuisine.
“The Filipino community here is over 100,” she explained. “Here in Northern Ontario, we didn’t have a Filipino restaurant yet. So that’s why I’m trying to offer a different food to the community, so we can extend their taste buds to travel a little bit in terms of food.
“Some people are still scared to try. Once they try us out, they’re going to love us. Everything is made with natural ingredients, no additives and it’s a home-cooked meal. It’s always fresh every day. We offer quality.”
One of her favourite Filipino dishes is adobo, which is made with either chicken or pork.
“Adobo is almost similar to some cooking here, like stew,” she said. “Lots of people said if we had bannock here, that would be perfect to go with it. That’s something we’re working on.”
The buffet at Lucky Lady always features a mixture of Canadian and Filipino dishes. The restaurant also has an extended menu featuring items from both kitchen cultures. So if you are looking for an old standard like a hamburger platter, it can be ordered from the menu.
The buffet features pricing for adults, seniors (over 65) and kids (ages 4-9).
Chow also makes sure that no food goes to waste at the end of the day.
“Whatever is left on our buffet table at the end of the day is donated to Living Space and the Good Samaritan Inn,” she said.” Where I grew up, my family back home is a middle-class family, and we always helped people. My heart always goes out to people in need. I’m not a rich person but my heart is big in terms of that. I don’t like to waste food. The health unit has given us the go ahead to donate.
“Why waste food if you can donate it to people who need it? And in our community there’s a lot. If only all the restaurants follow what I’m doing, maybe it can help with the burden to help these people rather than throw it in the garbage.”
She also helps others back in the Philippines and here at home get new clothing.
“Since I came to Canada, every time I go home we do a feeding program there and give clothing to people in need,” Chow said. “I have Giant Tiger (on Riverside Drive) helping me out. Summer clothes, I ship it back home. Winter clothes, they stay here and we give it to people in need.”
Chow came to Timmins in 1991. Previously she worked at the bingo hall, Extendicare and College Boreal. She is glad to be in a position where she is running her own business.
“Having your own operation, you have freedom,” she said. “If you think of something, then you can add it. If you are a franchise, you can’t do that. Here, you have the power to do it. All you need is the customer to come and buy it.”
She is always looking to make additions to please the customers.
“Right now I’m trying to develop surf and turf,” Chow said. “I started this (buffet) with no seafood. But what I would like to introduce is no seafood on the buffet table because I want to prevent cross-contamination (with serving utensils). Nowadays, a lot of people have allergies.”
She is also working on a plan to provide meals for the elderly and shut-ins, who can’t cook meals themselves.
“They could just tell us what they want, we would make it and deliver it to their house,” Chow said. “I used to do that. Can do for seven days a week, breakfast, lunch and supper and we can just put it in their freezer.”
She also provides catering for customers planning a celebration.
“We do weddings, anniversaries, any occasion,” Chow said. “If their party is less than 100, they can book the restaurant here and we’ll do the decorations.”
The Lady Luck Restaurant and Buffet is located at 33 Balsam St. S. in Timmins. For brunch, the buffet is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m.to 2 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For dinner, the buffet is open Monday to Thursday from 4:30 to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4:30 to 9 p.m. It is closed Sundays.