After losing four restaurants to bankruptcy a few years ago, a local business owner has rebounded and opened a new place in Rocky Hill by putting a different spin on how classic Indian cuisine is served to his customers.
In 1994, Shekhar Naik came to the United States after leaving Bombay, India where he owned three restaurants. He would open four restaurants called “Ambassador of India” in Connecticut over the next couple of years including his first in Glastonbury in 1995. The restaurants were also located in the former G. Fox building in Hartford, West Hartford center and on Temple Street in New Haven.
“For 14 years in a row, I was voted best Indian restaurant by Connecticut Magazine,” Naik said.
Then the economic recession struck, Naik was hit hard and he would have to file bankruptcy in 2009. He would lose all four of restaurants and his home to the bank.
“The economy played a big role,” he said. “It was the wrong timing and I spent a lot of money.”
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Even though he had a Master’s Degree in Hospitably from the University of New Haven, Naik said he was “too old” to start a new career and no one wanted to hire him at his age.
Last April, Naik, 57, said he did what he does best and opened . However, this time Naik changed his business model.
Instead of having a fine dining restaurant with fancy china and a large wait staff, he decided to offer the same food in a takeout setting. The casual atmosphere, lower rent, fewer staff members and no need for fine silverware allow Naik to offer the same quality food at 40 percent less price. A popular item such as Chicken Tikka Masala is usually priced at $14, however it is only $10 at Mmumbai Spice.
When asked why he would take another chance at running another Indian restaurant, Naik’s answer is simple.
“This is what I have been doing for 40 years,” he said. Naik added that he chose Rocky Hill because its proximity to his old Glastonbury location, the restaurant's size and the kindness of the plaza's landlord.
“It is going to take time to catch on,” he said. “We are seeing more customers. We are seeing growth and now our old customers are finding that I am here.”
As for the future, Naik said that Mmumbai Spice is staying put and he plans to perfect the model before looking to expand. He would eventually look for a town with a highly dense population.
“People are looking to spend less and get more,” he said. “For those who have not tried India food, come in. It is not about spice and curry.”
Mmumbai Spice is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. To place an offer or learn more about the Indian takeout place, stop by 945B Cromwell Ave., call 860-529-1681 or visit the business’s website. Like them on Facebook and you can view the menu at the following link.