leguan Mississauga

Burnt out hospital workers open chicken sandwich restaurant in Mississauga

Mississauga's newest chicken restaurant comes to us from nurses who are looking to transition to the restaurant business.

Not only that, Leguan has a Guyanese element, serving their fried chicken sandwiches on toasted Guyanese sweet buns. Their chicken is also all halal certified.

Leguan's signature creation is the Mother Clucker ($15), which has two pieces of fried chicken, a spicy aioli, "fire sauce," sriracha slaw, hot pickles and cheese. They also do burgers, veggie burgers, poutines and a "quicksand and fossils" Dunkaroos knock-off.

Their chicken is also locally sourced, is marinated for 24 hours in a secret brine and is seasoned with a combination of herbs and spices passed down from the Guyanese grandmother of one of the founders.

"The owners, burnt out from nursing during the pandemic, decided to do something they loved: crafting chicken sandwiches," reads Leguan's website.

"What started as casual comments from friends and family evolved into a small and humble food stall."

The catch is, they're only open on weekends, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Their first official day open was Dec. 18.

The restaurant is named for the small island in Guyana where founder Josh Persaud was born and briefly raised, and Leguan means "iguana" in Dutch.

His founding partner doesn't just work at the same hospital, she's also his fiance Charish Reynolds. They met at work, bonding over their love of travel and food, eventually travelling the world together visiting places like Europe and Asia.

Persaud is an an RPN on the Forensic Assessment Unit and Reynolds is a security guard, both at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. They're also both still in school, Persaud working on his RN degree at Ryerson, and Reynolds currently finishing her RPN diploma at Durham College.

One of their favourite foods, which would end up getting them through one of the most challenging periods of their careers, is chicken sandwiches.

"With the lockdown and working in the hospital we had to fend for ourselves. There was a solid month in which we would make chicken sandwiches every day in order to get our fix," Persaud tells blogTO.

"With each new concoction we used our knowledge of foods that we had throughout our travels to tweak the recipe at almost every step in each new attempt. We wanted to recreate that feeling of being culturally immersed."

The couple served their chicken sandwiches at a small gathering once restrictions lifted, and the lightbulb went off when Persaud's mother-in-law suggested they could sell them.

They'd been looking for their first home, as well as a food truck, and found they couldn't afford either, before stumbling on a food stall vacancy at the Mississauga Flea Market.

"We then used our deposit for our unattainable house and ran head first into this new adventure," says Persaud.

"We are both currently still employed at the hospital, but looking to transition away from nursing, for at least the time being."

While overall Persaud finds Ontario Shores to be a fantastic place, he's become disillusioned with his career choice because of the stress of the past two years, including a lack of support and benefits, pay caps and understaffing.

"When I began my journey to upgrade to the RN three years ago, I wanted to be able to better help my patients, gain knowledge to advocate for them in a more efficient manner and make a positive difference in their lives," says Persaud.

"However, as I approach the finish line, I begrudgingly admit that I have become jaded because of the treatment we have received these past two years. I hope one day my enthusiasm for the profession will return, but for now I want to make an impact in a different way that is also fulfilling to me as well."

LeGuan is located at 3092 Mavis Rd., and they're available on DoorDash, Skip the Dishes and Uber Eats.

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