Brandon Richardson worked for a cable company for 17 years before he realized his true calling: chicken wings.
“I was brought up in a restaurant and then thought [I] might as well go back to the restaurant scene,” said Richardson, the owner and operator of Déja Vu Café in Moose Jaw.
With 30 years of serving experience and childhood knowledge of running a restaurant between them, Richardson and his wife bought the failing downtown restaurant with the goal of serving good food and good portions to customers.
The restaurant, known for its 100 flavours of chicken and self-described world-famous milkshakes, is now a staple in the Notorious City and has been featured on The Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here!
“I was intrigued by all the flavours,” Richardson said.
When the couple first took over the restaurant, its menu featured 50 flavoured dipping sauces for wings and chicken strips. That number has doubled today, something Richardson attributes to creativity and human error.
“The kids and cooks and all that try making and coming up with different flavours all the time … and every single flavour is sold, we have none that sit,” said Richardson.
In the restaurant, two chalkboards filled with multi-coloured handwriting show off over 200 flavours for wings, strips and milkshakes available to order.
Texas Ranch is the restaurant’s bestselling sauce. According to Richardson, the flavour is set apart because of its unique and consistent recipe: only three people know how to mix Déja Vu’s sauces.
“I get my child to mix a flavour up and if he’s not paying attention to the ingredients or whatever or for some reason he thinks, ‘Oh, I’m going to put this in there instead,’ we try it out, see what happens,” Richardson said.
Richardson estimates 20 hours each week are spent making sauces at Déja Vu and about 300 bottles of sauce sit in the restaurant’s kitchen at any given time.
“If you’ve never been here you can very well be overwhelmed with all the different flavours, with what to get,” said Richardson.
“We just think to this day how far we’ve come along.”
Nadene Schmaltz was visiting from Saskatoon with her mother, Betty Haugen, when they decided to stop into Déja Vu.
“The service has been good,” Schmaltz said. “It’s the first time I’ve been here but this week when we were at the Scotties (Tournament of Hearts Annual Women’s Curling Championship) all week, everybody told us we had to come here before we leave.”
Haugen, who has eaten at the restaurant before, said the food is very good and brought her daughter to share the experience.
“I ordered wings … they’re delicious,” said Haugen.
Each day, Richardson can be seen wandering through the restaurant as customers enjoy their meals, chatting with them, taking orders, and bringing out hot plates of steaming wings slathered in sauce.
“The portion sizes are very large, people are always very happy, they never go away from here hungry,” said Richardson.
Milkshakes are also a hit with customers, made completely from soft-serve ice cream and available in more than 100 flavours served in old-style tin soda shop cups. Richardson says the restaurant has frequently run out of its 120 cups due to high demand for their shakes.
“People come from all over the place, Canada, the United States, all over the world people have come,” Richardson said. “I think it’s pretty cool to see the look on people’s face when they get their food. They’re like, ‘Wow, did we order all this?,’ taking pictures of their food, smiles on their faces.
“It’s amazing how everything has turned out.”