From a food truck to franchises, Curry Up Now will soon be serving its uniquely creative Indian fare to countless eaters across the country.
Sexy fries, naughty naan and other tasty staples of the menu from the establishment which opened its first restaurant in downtown San Mateo announced last month a planned franchise expansion throughout the United States.
The company headquartered in South San Francisco which Akash Kapoor founded with his wife Rana and colleague Amir Hosseini is about to open its first location outside the Bay Area in Sacramento with the next phase of growth expected in Atlanta, Orange County and New Jersey. Following that, Kapoor said dozens of locations are planned, eight to 10 new sites could open this year and as many as 300 new eateries are in different stages of development.
The growth through franchising comes as the Hillsborough resident Kapoor enters his 10th year of working in the restaurant business which continues to present unexpected and unique challenges.
“It’s terrifying, because you have a baby and it’s all grown up,” said Kapoor, who started Curry Up Now as a family venture in an upstart food truck where his child’s nanny worked as the first cook.
But the vision for reimagined Indian street delivered creatively and quickly proved desirable and marketable beyond the capacity which could be accommodated by the food truck.
When the company opened its first storefront in San Mateo, Kapoor said Curry Up Now hoped to disrupt the preconceived notions associated with Indian food, which he expressed as visions of the Taj Mahal, peacocks, lions and other traditional décor.
In its departure from its competition, the restaurant polished a more sleek, modern look which Kapoor said is capturing the attention of many others seeking to ride the company’s coattails to success.
“Being pioneers, we did that and now a lot of people are copying us,” he said. “But we have to make sure we stay ahead.”
Alongside the focus on maintaining an industry lead comes continually generating unique and delicious food with the potential to be as popular as menu mashup classics such as tikka masala burritos, naan quesadillas and Indian-inspired poutine, said Kapoor.
But Kapoor, who crafted much of the menu, said he is constantly forced to edit his vision to assure he is not going too far afield in conceptualizing offerings. And as the company intends to grow, Kapoor said it more important than ever to assure dishes are easily and rapidly replicated so as to not muddy the restaurant’s blossoming image.
To that end, Kapoor said much of his attention in advance of the franchise expansion is dedicated to documenting all the company’s details such as presentation, pricing and plating and packaging them in a fashion which can be easily understood and re-created.
While the work can be hard and the hours long, Kapoor said his anxiety associated with building his brand is tempered slightly by watching the successful growth of other similar models.
In an attempt to follow the path for grand expansions, Curry Up Now partnered with the same franchising company which helped restaurants like Five Guys, the Halal Guys and Qdoba become household names across the country.
Though the detailed labor required to become a top tier franchise is a world apart from his time hustling across the Peninsula serving from his first food truck, Kapoor said he is fulfilled by his culinary venture while a hunger for more remains.
“This is what makes me happy. It makes me feel real. It’s a tough gig. It’s not easy,” he said. “But you wake up in the morning and say ‘let’s go to work.’ It’s not a drag.”
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