The Rise and Fall of Indian Restaurants in the US!!

Indian restaurants in the US start with a bang and then they limp around… to die out and others to start. Quality is not an automatic reservoir! Reputation for quality and service has to be earned every day.

For example, in Houston there was a great South Indian restaurant called Madras Pavilion on Kirby and Richmond. It is still there and still excellent. Perhaps some of the best South Indian food I have had anywhere.. I mean ANYWHERE .. including India! It serves vegetarian fare which is delightful and they have built a big Jewish clientele as well! A couple of years back the management decided to open another branch near the suburb of Houston which boasts of a big Indian population specifically South Indian families. So what kind of food do you think they would have served there as well? Vegetarian South Indian.. right? … and for two reasons:

  1. Thats what their tried and tested SUCCESSFUL model was!
  2. South Indians are mostly vegetarians and when the parents and elders came from India they would in most cases want to go in a COMPLETE vegetarian restaurant.

What do you think the management does? Well.. they open an Indian restaurant serving Chinese-Indian, North India, South Indian and both Non-Veg and Veg food!! That’s like a case of a guy who just won a race and in the finals he keeps zigzagging on his competitors tracks just to see how the race looks from those tracks! And loses BIG TIME!! While I would stand 15 minutes at the Kirby location to get a chance to eat there (which is by the way the smaller of the two).. I would never want to pay from MY POCKET to eat the food at the Sugarland location of Madras Pavilion. One because I think they just dont know what they are doing and second their quality is RANK BAD!! I mean RANK BAD!! The best thing that I found last time was the Water!!

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Today I went to another restaurant that my wife and I liked a lot the first two times – Vishala. We like Gujarati (Gujju) food and somehow Thali – which was good and ultimately went the same route as MP in terms of quality and has FILTHY DIRTY seats to sit on – tough to go again.. were delighted to find this Vishala. It seems one of the reason why Thali’s quality went down was because Vishala poached Thali’s cook!

So, we go in and started with the ubiquitous Indian restaurant buffet. We fill the plate with all types of curries and go to the pooris (Indian bread) but it is cold! So we tell the lady on the counter.

And she goes like “I just brought them FIVE MINUTES back”… well five minutes is a LOOOONG TIME to keep pooris outside and still expect them to be warm! And anybody who has had a passing experience of eating pooris would like them piping hot!!

My wife: Can we have some fresh ones?

Lady on the Counter: The cook is very busy right now!

“Well she must be indulging in wild orgies back in there isnt it!!” I think loud to myself! WHAT ELSE would you be BUSY WITH… in a RESTAURANT if you were a COOK.. if you are TOO BUSY TO SERVE THE GUESTS??? What could give that person more SATISFACTION and HAPPINESS??

If that is the kind of attitude of the cook and management then I can tell you right now that the day I write the obituary for Vishala restaurant in Houston (On Hwy 6 and Bissonet) is not too far off in future!

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Desh Kapoor

The panache of a writer is proven by the creative pen he uses to transform the most mundane topic into a thrilling story. Desh - the author, critic and analyst uses the power of his pen to create thought-provoking pieces from ordinary topics of discussion. He writes on myriad interesting themes. Read the articles to know more about his views and "drishtikone".

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2 thoughts on “The Rise and Fall of Indian Restaurants in the US!!”

  1. In the UK especially indian restaurants in hyde have been around from the 50s. Some of the most successful restaurants pull in more then £50,000 per week. So Indian restaurants in the US need to come over to the UK to learn the tricks of the trade.

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