Boston and Elm City residents now have one more thing in common: They can order and munch on wraps and rice bowls from Tikkaway Grill — an Indian fast-food restaurant that began in the Elm City nearly four years ago.
In Boston’s Seaport District this Monday, Tikkaway employees began prepping chicken and roasting vegetables as the shop opened its doors. Owner Gopi Nair opened Tikkaway’s first venue — the Elm City’s highest ranked eatery on Yelp — in August 2013 at 135 Orange St. The Boston location is Gopi’s second restaurant in operation.
“We opened in New Haven, and the community liked what we did,” Nair said. “Now we’re bringing all of that [to Boston] to try to break the barrier of ethnic cuisine.”
The Seaport dining scene includes a variety of cultures and experiences, according to Brian Sciera, vice president at WS Development and Tikkaway’s realtor in Boston. He said that as a fun and informal restaurant, Tikkaway is bound to be a hit in the neighborhood.
Since some people perceive Indian food to be greasy and fattening, Nair said Tikkaway tries to offer lighter, healthier options.
Those options bring Hanifa Washington, a local resident, into New Haven’s Tikkaway a few times per month. When she purchases food for community meetings, she orders from the Indian-inspired restaurant.
“The concept is slow food served fast,” said Washington, who is a vegan. “I don’t feel like I compromise anything when I come here.”
She added that Tikkaway reminds her of Chipotle and Junzi Kitchen, which have the same business concept, marketing style and color scheme.
In fact, Tikkaway joins Junzi Kitchen, another restaurant that markets itself as a reinvention of ethnic food, in expanding to another city. Junzi will open a second location at Columbia University this spring.
For Nair, his store’s concept has been key to its ability to expand.
“The idea is to build a brand,” Nair said. “More good of the same thing.”
In 2014, Tikkaway added a second restaurant in New Haven at 2 Howe St., though that location has since closed.
Regardless, the food industry is nothing new to Nair. In the past, he has worked as a managing partner with the Coromandel Group of Indian restaurants and managed a variety of bars.
As a Connecticut resident, Nair will spend most of his time in New Haven after the Boston location gets off the ground. Both stores display a “Made in New Haven” sign in their windows, as the city’s business environment played a large role in his success.
“New Haven had every element of what I was looking for — diversity, culture, demographics and market size,” he said.
Tikkaway in New Haven is open Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on the weekends from 12:00 p.m. to 8 p.m.