A fresh take on an old restaurant

Story by Patricia Merrick


Photos by Sergei Belski

Summer 2024

The best part of running a business in Airdrie is becoming part of the community, says the newest owner of Smitty’s Restaurant, Desikan Thiruvendipuram.

Although the business owner doesn’t live in Airdrie, he says the community has welcomed him with open arms since he took over running the restaurant in December 2022.

“It’s a sense of community. Every day, when I am in the restaurant, I say Hi to my regulars. It’s almost like family,” says Thiruvendipuram. “I feel part of the community and I am extremely grateful for being accepted.”

After working in oil and gas for many years, Thiruvendipuram took the opportunity to become an entrepreneur, as he always wanted to do something on his own. He now has 50 people on his payroll, including several Ukrainians who are new to Canada, and he says he feels proud of his contributions to the community.

“A large part of what we are trying to do is give back to the community as much as we get from the community,” Thiruvendipuram says. “I really enjoy working with my team, so it’s a big payoff. Running a restaurant is not easy.”

Smitty’s sponsors hockey teams and organizations like the Airdrie Festival of Lights Society and Airdrie Food Bank. The restaurant is located on the east side of Airdrie, just off the QEII Highway, and is a hot spot for people who are in town for hockey tournaments, which inspired Thiruvendipuram to create a lounge side to the restaurant, naming it The Flying Puck.

The new business owner also launched a line of Detroit-inspired deep-dish pizza that has proven to be very popular. Thiruvendipuram says positive Google ratings have increased since he took over the business.

“That kind of signifies what people think about our restaurant. Our constant focus is on quality of product that goes out and customer service,” he says.

Chain restaurants typically use frozen products, but Smitty’s always uses fresh ingredients, Thiruvendipuram says.

He has recently launched a catering side to the business, as well, which has been taking off. Smitty’s caters for a variety of events, including weddings, church gatherings, holiday parties or events put on by organizations like the Food Bank and Airdrie Regional Chamber of Commerce. The restaurant caters to groups as small as ten people or as large as 1,000.

“We actually offer exceptional value. The quality is amazing. It speaks volumes in terms of how many repeat customers I have,” Thiruvendipuram says.