In the two days since Bombay Bowl, Denver's only fast-casual Indian restaurant, was featured prominently in the dining section of the New York Times, owner Amar Singh has been inundated with franchising offers from all over the globe.
"It's been absolutely insane," says Singh, who's fielded more than 200 e-mails and phone calls from as far as away as Jordan. "We're getting franchising requests from all over the world, including the U.K., Jordan, Wisconsin, Canada and India."
The New York Times feature, penned by John Edge, who was in Denver two weeks ago as part of a cartel of food critics and writers doing restaurant research for the James Beard Foundation Awards, suggests that there's a mainstream market need for fast-casual joints beyond Chipotle. And Singh agrees. "There's definitely a gap in the market for fast-casual Indian food," admits Singh. "We're bombarded with fast-casual Asian and Mexican places, but there aren't many Indian counterparts."
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Indian buffets, he concedes, have been around for years, but when he unleashed his first Bombay Bowl several years ago in Centennial, which he later shuttered before opening a central Denver location last year, Singh had two goals: "I wanted to educate people who weren't familiar with Indian food at all, and I also wanted to to educate those who only equated Indian food with buffets and fast food," he says, noting, too, that it was a challenge to convince skeptics that Indian cuisine is healthy. "We absolutely offer healthy lunch and dinner options, including a lot of vegetables, which is important to our customers -- and what they want is key."
And so is expansion. But while Singh is thrilled that his restaurant is generating so much attention from here, there and everywhere, he's concentrating on keeping Bombay Bowl local. "I've been looking for other spaces in Denver and Boulder for the last six months, but it's difficult to find a location that's conducive to a small, fast-casual concept," he says. Not that he's stopped searching. "This year is all about growth for us, and we're ready to go just as soon as we find a space."
And the phone stops ringing.