The Heart Behind the Water Tower Grill

Jan 14, 2020

Like the Water Tower, owner Ram Khanal has a rich history with a global reach. His twenty-two years in the service industry have taken him around the world more than once from his birth-home in Nepal, to his new home in Alberta.

Throughout his experiences, Ram’s passion for international cuisine, and for connections made over good food and drink burns bright – and they’re things he continues to share inside the walls of all his restaurants.

In the mountains of Nepal

Ram was born and raised in Gorka, Nepal (southwest of Katmandu), the birthplace of the legendary Gurkha soldiers, said to be the bravest of the brave. Though he was never a soldier, Ram had his own struggles, including hiking up and down valleys to get to and from grade school.

This didn’t dim Ram’s voracious zest for learning. He studied everything from commerce to tourism, restaurant and hotel management, before jumping on a ship to see the world. For nearly six years, Ram worked on an Italian cruise line, working with 40+ different nationalities, and visiting over 35 different countries. This experience opened Ram’s eyes to the great diversity of food and vibrant cultures around the world.

A culinary map of the world

For those six years travelling abroad, Ram followed his taste buds. He marked out the world based on which cultures ate what, creating culinary borders inside his mind, and marking out dish capitals as he travelled. And the further he explored, the sharper his taste buds became, and the more he realized he wanted to create a space for cross-cultural cuisine and connection.

Ram arrives in the land of opportunity: Canada!

After six years of travelling, and when the stars were aligned for him to meet the woman he would marry, Ram decided it was time to settle down. But with all these new experiences and a wife who didn’t speak Nepalese, Ram found the old saying was true: he just couldn’t go home again.

So, after hearing Canada was a great country with endless opportunities, the couple decided to settle here in 2012. Together, Ram and his wife, Olga, pursued their love of food, working in the restaurant industry until they were able to attain permanent residency – then, they settled in Picture Butte.

Ram’s first business: The Picture Butte Historic Hotel and Restaurant

It was here he and Olga decided they wanted to do more than just work for restaurants – they wanted a restaurant of their own. So, after Ram again went down the scholarly road, studying for a Masters in Business Administration, he and Olga bought and renovated Picture Butte’s historic hotel and opened a restaurant like nothing the town had before experienced.

Melding North American, Mexican and East Indian cuisine, Ram and Olga created a world-class menu for the Picture Butte hotel, sharing their love of cross-cultural food. And the residents of Picture Butte ate it up!

After laying down roots in Picture Butte, Ram decided an expansion to Lethbridge was in order. So when the Telegraph Tap House came up for sale, he saw the chance to create a pub where people could enjoy the finest craft beers, with a similarly top-notch, global menu.

The Telegraph Tap House

Ram’s passion for premium food and beverage, and for building community, has pushed his efforts to turn the Telegraph Tap House into a space for quality connection – for laughter, love and good conversation, all over delicious cross-cultural cuisine, and of course, a great beer to go along with it.

The Water Tower – and beyond

Today, Ram continues to create spaces where families and friends can gather. So, when the Water Tower was once again available to rent, Ram jumped at the chance to put his spin on yet another historic space in southern Alberta. With the help of Albertans and a diverse kitchen staff, the Water Tower will bring a new presence and new cuisine to our city.

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