Gourment India is expanding for the first time into New Hampshire with a location in the Sun Plaza in Nashua. Photo courtesy of Gourmet India
Gourmet India restaurants is set to add to its portfolio of several Boston-area locations — with a new one in the heart of the city — as well expanding for the first time into New Hampshire. The brand, which has made a name for itself in malls, is keeping with that trend as it adds two restaurants to its portfolio.
A new Quincy Market location in Faneuil Hall is slated to open in mid-May, while a second location in the Sun Plaza, Nashua, N.H., will follow in early June, according to Vik Sood, who handles some of the restaurant’s marketing. The additions bring the total of Gourmet India restaurants to seven. The others are located in: Burlington Mall, Natick Mall, Boston’s Prudential Center, the Square One Mall in Saugus and Providence Place in Rhode Island.
The new locations hold equal potential for bringing Gourmet India’s high-quality food and casual atmosphere to even more diners, said Sood. Moving into Quincy Market will put the chain within arm’s reach of a good cross-section of international diners — many of whom are already familiar with Indian food. “We do well with college students at respected universities, people who have international exposure,” said Sood.
The new Nashua location provides a chance to move northward into fresh New England territory. New Hampshire in particular may provide the backbone for possible future expansion outside of Massachusetts.
According to Sood, the cultural composition of New Hampshire has diversified in the last 30 years because of factors such as good schooling and tax advantages, providing the restaurant chain with a ready-made clientele similar to the one it has courted through the years through its other locations.
North Indian classics lie at the center of the menu, with South Indian specials featured on a weekend menu.
Chicken entrees include Malai Chicken, Keema Chicken and Kadai Murg and vegetarian entrees include Achaari Aloo, Mushroom Masala and Daal Tori. South Indian specialties include Plain or Masala Dosa, Idli Sambhar and Bhel Poori. The dessert menu boasts Kheer, Jalebi and Rasmalai.
Offerings at the new locations will look similar to those found at the restaurant’s established locations with the exception of some subtle changes, said Sood. Even though the restaurant’s current menu works well, the restaurant’s owners are willing to respond to client tastes. “We recognize that in any food business it is important to come up with new ideas,” Sood said.
Indo-Chinese cuisine will soon appear for two to three days per month to enliven cuisine options, said Sood. The addition reflects the restaurant’s flexibility as it tries to reach untapped demographics.
As much as Indian cuisine has grown in popularity throughout the New England region over the years, it has yet to achieve the same foothold as other kinds of Asian cooking, according to Sood.
“The food is not to the point of Chinese food yet. In the next three years we could creep up to Thai food,” he said. However, Sood believes the subcontinent will overtake ethnic staple Chinese food and says that the addition of the new locations will take the chain — which earned the restaurant a spot on the Improper Bostonian’s “Best of Boston” list in 2004 — to its pinnacle in the Northeast.
Founder Yogi Sood opened the first Gourmet India in the Burlington Mall in 1995 to serve the needs of diners looking for high-quality dining in a casual environment. Previously, he worked as an engineering manager for Parker Brothers and was the director of engineering at office supply company NEBS.
The Soods, who have made their home in New Hampshire for 30 years, have been hunting for possible New Hampshire locations for years. “We’ve always been on the lookout for a location in New Hampshire, said Sood. He currently resides in Nashua.
Although there are currently no solid plans to expand outside of New England, Sood reports that the Sood family is tentatively looking to franchise Gourmet India.
The west coast, as well as Washington D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles are all likely sites of future restaurants, according to Sood.
It takes a certain kind of person willing to contend with the long hours, at times in excess of 15-hour days, required to running an eatery, said Sood. Finding the right partners for such an enterprise is paramount, he believes.
Franchise plans hinge on the Soods’ ability to find the right people for a possible franchise situation. “We recognize as we continue to grow, we’re going to have to bring in good people,” said Sood. “We’re interested in partnering with other families eager to get into the business. And as long as those families have a strong work ethic.”
“We’re all about trying to find good people who are passionate and up for the lifestyle. It is a lot of work,” he added.
For now, the restaurant will keep with a simple, but tested recipe for success. Part of that includes maintaining good relations with its employees. “We really try to make sure our places are run the way they should be on premises and with catering. We treat them with a level of respect they may not get at other Indian restaurant,” said Sood. “We’ve worked really hard to get it where [it is today.]”