Today we’d like to introduce you to Sid Gandhi.
Hi Sid, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I came here as an immigrant from India in 1999 with a clean slate and had the opportunity to work with a family friend in the restaurant industry. I started at the bottom, cleaning tables and floors, waiting on tables, taking orders, etc. but I was a quick learner and was like a sponge soaking up knowledge about the industry as much as I could. After a few years, I decided to follow my passion and dream and opened up my own Indian restaurant, Tandoori Garden, in Anaheim, CA in 2009. My family friend who showed me the ropes now became my mentor and I was able to grow my business by hosting and partnering with event planners, local charities, and Bollywood entertainment artists. The banquet hall of my restaurant provided space for various types of events such as wedding receptions, baby showers, engagement parties, karaoke nights, charity galas, and lunch and learn sessions for the local youth to name just a few. Over the ten years as the owner of Tandoori Garden I created a name for myself and I received many awards such as “The best south Asian entrepreneur” in 2015 by the South Asian Business Awards Network (SABAN) and the “People’s Choice Award 2015” by the City of Anaheim to highlight my work. I was also featured on an International Food & Travel TV show called Foodies Come to America. In 2017, I expanded and opened an express concept called Tandoori Express. It was an Indian Bistro where people can hang out in a fast-casual setting. The menu offered Indian bites and dishes that were not offered at my fine dining concept.
In 2020, the fine dining restaurant industry was shaken up due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It made me rethink and re-evaluate the landscape that I was in and made the extremely hard decision to close the doors of Tandoori Garden. I started looking at the market trends and saw that the future is fast-casual dining opportunity. As technology advances and people become more reliant on the ability to have instant gratification, I knew I needed to create a space where diners can dine in if they want to but they also can order through their apps and enjoy delicious Indian food at home. That’s when Curry Kitchen was born. Curry Kitchen has a modern, fun Californian vibe located in Mission Viejo, CA. The decor is upbeat, clean and funky. The hand-crafted menu incorporates traditional Indian dishes coupled with an American influence. Indian street foods such as Tandoori Tacos and Desi pizza are just a couple of items that are top sellers. I am a firm believer in maintaining relationships and I’ve been blessed to grow my relationship with Chef Singh from Tandoori Garden to Curry Kitchen. We opened in Dec. 2020 and already have over 150 Yelp reviews which makes me feel proud of taking the risk to try something new in a time where there was much uncertainty.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The restaurant industry is very challenging and because we opened at the height of the pandemic getting the permits and plans approved were time-consuming as the restrictions on restaurants heightened. We also wanted our customers to feel safe ordering food from us and wanted them to know we took CDC guidelines very seriously. We surprisingly did really well and rapidly grew our customers base, which led to days where we struggled in the kitchen to keep up with the demand. It’s a good problem to have though! Thanks fully we have a great team and we all worked hard to send out the right message to our customers and our Yelp reviews reflect our hard work.
So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
The most important elements in the restaurant industry are food quality and top notch customer service in addition to being able to serving our customers in a clean and friendly environment.