Fast-casual Indian chain to enter Indy market

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The fast-casual Indian restaurant chain Curry Up Now has Indiana in its sights, with plans to open at least five locations in the Indianapolis market and elsewhere around the state within the next several years.

Long-time friends Bill Morgan of Carmel and Rick Renner of Denver have signed a multi-unit franchise deal with the San Francisco-based company, and the two hope to have their first store open by fall 2020.

Morgan and Renner are targeting downtown Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers and Greenwood as areas of interest, though they haven’t yet settled on specific locations. The two are working with Indianapolis-based Veritas Realty to identify appropriate sites.

“We really feel like this format will travel nicely and work pretty well in different areas within the Indianapolis metro area,” Morgan told IBJ.

The franchisees are also considering opening in Bloomington, West Lafayette, Muncie, South Bend and Lake County.

Curry Up Now, which was started in 2009 by the husband-and-wife team of Akash and Rana Kapoor, has only a small number of restaurants in operation now—six in the San Francisco Bay area and one in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur, Georgia.

But the company is in expansion mode, with more than 40 Curry Up Now locations in varying stages of development around the U.S. By the end of the year, restaurants are expected to open in the California cities of Irvine and Sacramento as well as Hoboken, New Jersey and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Curry Up Now’s menu is built around classic Indian food such as samosas, biryani and tikka masala. But there’s also a fusion aspect to some of the items. The Naughty Naan, for instance—mozzarella, onions, jalapeno and a protein served on naan flatbread—resembles a pizza. Burritos and sweet potato fries are also on the menu.

The approach should help make Indian food more accessible to customers who may be unfamiliar with the cuisine, Renner said. “In this market, introducing it in more of a fusion way is really a smart way to go.”

Renner and Morgan traveled to California in August to meet with Curry Up Now’s founders, sample the food and visit its restaurants before deciding to sign on as franchisees.

“It was important for us to really understand the product that we were going to be selling,” Morgan said.

Morgan and Renner both of whom are in their mid-50s, grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. After high school their paths diverged, though both have experience as business owners.

In 1991, Renner co-founded Boulder, Colorado-based renewable energy company Econergy International. After selling that company about 10 years ago, Renner went on to become a partner and the chief financial officer at Denver-based Integrated Listening Systems, a music-based therapy for people with autism and other disorders. Renner and his partners sold most of that company earlier this year.

Morgan’s background is in television and film production. In 1996 he cofounded JWM Productions, which produced cultural, natural history, science and children’s programming for clients including The History Channel, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN and others. The company wound down its operations last year, freeing Morgan for other opportunities.

In other news this week:

Best Friends Pet Hotel’s Castleton location is reopening next month after an extended shutdown for renovations. The 13,485-square-foot facility, at 8224 Bash St. just north of 82nd Street and west of I-69, closed for renovations in 2017. The newly repurposed space includes 86 units for overnight dog boarding plus eight “luxury suites,” each with its own television. The space also includes a cat boarding area, a pet boutique and grooming and training areas. Best Friends begins accepting boarding reservations Friday, and the facility’s grand opening is scheduled for Dec. 7.

Mission 27 Resale opens Saturday at 1618 Shelby St., on the eastern edge of the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood. The thrift shop is operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Indianapolis, a Catholic organization. This will be the second Mission 27 for St. Vincent de Paul, whose original store opened several years ago at 132 Leota St. on the city’s near east side. IBJ first reported on St. Vincent de Paul’s Shelby Street plans in January.

Mission 27 reanimates what had been a vacant 12,000-square-foot building, which had previously served as a warehouse. Still to come at the store is an in-house coffee shop to be operated by a yet-to-be-named outside operator.

— The breakfast-and-lunch spot Rize opened this month at the Yard at Fishers District, 9705 Fishers District Dr., Suite 760. IBJ first reported on this location in March. It’s the second Rize for Indianapolis-based Cunningham Restaurant Group, which debuted Rize in 2017 at Ironworks Hotel at 2721 E. 86th St. Open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Rize offers breakfast, brunch and lunch items including breakfast bowls, topped toasts, salads and sandwiches.

— Indianapolis-based optometry chain Dr. Tavel will open its first Avon store next month at 7900 E. U.S. 36. A grand opening is planned for Dec. 9. Founded in 1940, Dr. Tavel offers eye exams, eyeglasses and contacts at 21 sites around Indiana. The Avon location will be the company’s 22nd.

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