Ambily Manoj used to see her husband, Manoj Kumar, just once every seven months.
The couple, originally from southern India, lived in Miami, Fla., and Kumar worked as a chef for Royal Caribbean Cruiselines, spending several months at a time at sea.
Nowadays, the couple lives in Charleswood, and that’s all changed.
Ambily and Manoj now spend 12 to 14 hours a day working alongside each other.
The couple has just opened a new restaurant — Sunny and Roses, at the old Cosmos location at the corner of Roblin Boulevard and Harstone Road. They love the opportunity of living and working so closely together.
"I’m very proud to be serving his food," Manoj says. "I’ve known my husband since I was 15, and we’ve been married 14 years. He’s the chef, cooking is his passion. I’m a people person.
"I like to go and talk to each person, and see how they are liking the food, and make a personal connection with them."
The restaurant is Ambily and Kumar’s second. They opened their first restaurant, the Roadhouse Eatery, a year and a half ago.
Although they’re pleased with how that restaurant has done, they are hoping to find success in the Charleswood community where they live and are raising their three children.
Manoj doesn’t take the opportunity to work alongside her husband for granted.
"It’s about chemistry," she says of working in a husband-and-wife team. "If he had someone else to serve his food, it wouldn’t be the same."
Although the restaurant features a broad range of Canadian, Mediterranean and Indian dishes, Manoj’s signature dish is his butter chicken. The sauce is made from scratch and is served with naan, rice and vegetables.
The menu is different from that at Roadhouse Eatery, and Kumar intends to change options frequently.
As well, on Sundays, guests can order what’s called a ‘thali’ dish — an assortment of different Indian lentils, vegetables and traditional dishes that changes every week.
Indian culture influences more than just their food — it blends into how the couple tries to do business. They are originally from the Indian state of Kerala.
"We have a saying in our hometown that ‘the guest is God’," Manoj says.
"Hospitality isn’t something we get taught in school. It’s part of our culture," both Manoj and Kumar say.
Sunny and Roses is fully licensed, and its patio will open as the days get warmer.
Amanda Thorsteinsson is a community correspondent for Charleswood.