When a Vernon businessman secured the lease for the building beside his East Indian cuisine restaurant late last year, he’d planned to use it as a dining room. But with COVID-19 shortening his staff, he instead filled the new space with an altogether different sort of delicacy.
Imran Imran opened the Shahi Pakwan restaurant on 43rd Avenue with his wife in 2019. Business has been steadily growing since then, and their clientele has held firm despite the pandemic.
“The business was growing, and we just decided to open a dining restaurant,” Imran said, having taken over the new space in December 2020.
“Unfortunately, because of COVID, and because we already leased this place, we decided to change the business model.”
Their latest venture, Dastkar, is a furniture store unlike any other in Vernon and perhaps the Okanagan. The handmade and carefully detailed products are imported from Pakistan and crafted in the Chiniot style — named after a city in Pakistan famous for its intricate wooden furniture, which commonly features carved rosewood inlaid with brass.
As Imran explains, Dastkar translates from Urdu to English as ‘handmade’ or ‘handyman.’ The more elaborate pieces can take an expert crafter weeks or months to complete.
It’s a business he’s carrying over from the days before he immigrated to Canada in 2005.
“I had this business in Taiwan, so that was already in my mind,” he said. “I had knowledge and experience about this kind of product, so we just decided to do it here.”
Imran once lived in Hong Kong and worked for a trading company that dealt the sorts of products that can now be found at Dastkar.
The first room upon entering the front door is packed full of recently imported, one-of-a-kind pieces, from coffee tables to wooden ship ornaments. Other rooms are filled with handcrafted marble goblets, brass ornaments and Indian and Pakistani jewellery. There are swing chairs, colourful paintings and troves of gem stones and marble oddities.
Imran has a passion for attention to detail, in both the kitchen and in wooden products.
“It’s artwork, and I love the beauty. I like to create things that are more unique and attractive … As you can see I am a chef,” he said, gesturing towards his flour-covered apron and kitchen slacks.
The furniture store is hard to find. Located in a nondescript building right up against 43rd Avenue traffic, the door is locked most of the time as Imran and his wife busily run the kitchen.
The hope is the pandemic-induced staff shortages will soon be reversed, freeing up time for Imran’s wife to run the furniture store. Currently, those wanting to view or purchase furniture can pop into the restaurant and ask for Imran.