A small family-owned dumpling shop in northeast Calgary has exploded in popularity after a mom's rave Facebook review went viral.
Deng's Dumpling opened on Canada Day in a neighbourhood strip mall off Rundlehorn Drive N.E. At first, the family struggled to get the word out and had very few customers.
"Because of this area, the location, nobody really came in," said Hua Deng, whose father, Jack, owns the business.
Things changed in a hurry after Alex Simms and her three children popped in for a free Stampede lunch. They were struck by the quality of the food — and by Jack Deng's personality.
"He's very kind and very funny, and my kids just fell in love with him," said Simms.
On their next visit to the Pineridge shop, Simms and Deng got to talking and he explained his predicament. Simms took a photo of him with her kids and posted it in the popular "Calgary Roast and Toast" Facebook group, encouraging people to stop by.
That's when things blew up.
From no customers to lineups out the door
"Suddenly … tons of people here, I don't know what happened, because I never used Facebook," said Jack Deng, who had to call in his sons and wife for reinforcement.
Hua said he was surprised when his father asked for assistance.
"He was like, 'Please come help me out, I'm too busy here,'" said the son. "I saw people lining up out the door, I was like, 'Whoa, what's going on?'"
The customers pointed Hua to a growing number of Facebook posts and comments from people who had taken Simms's advice and were sharing their own experiences.
"It was a shock to us. [We're] a little overwhelmed from all the support, but we're forever grateful for that," he said.
On Tuesday afternoon, the online buzz was drawing customers from near and far.
Treena Dumba drove 45 minutes to pick up her friend, Dawn Matthews-Nichols, and check out the restaurant. The two had an impromptu picnic in the car.
"They're so good, I have to eat it before I go," said Dumba.
"Some of this is supposed to make it home to my husband, but …," said Matthews-Nichols.
Susan Townson lives a few blocks away in Pineridge and managed to get her hands on a box of fried pork dumplings but missed her chance to buy a bag of frozen ones.
"You have to come early in the morning for that, so I'll be coming back on Friday for those," she said.
Buoyed by the business's success, the Deng family hopes to soon hire more staff — and may open another location.
As for Alex Simms and her kids, they've found a new favourite restaurant, and plan to continue sharing their love with other people.
"If you eat here, you'll feel like you're in heaven," said 10-year-old Rylen Simms.