Tava indian kitchen to scale back its indian menu for a broader appeal

Morgan is the former SVP for Smashburger, one of the country’s top fast-casual restaurant chains, which built out hundreds of new locations under his tenure. Noodles nd company He became Tava’s CEO in July 2014, after a stint supporting the company as a board advisor.

That doesn’t mean Tava is eschewing its Indian roots. Noodles and company to go “Our food is still very much Indian, and we are proud of that,” said Morgan in an email after this article was first published.


What is noodles “We LOVE (his emphasis) Indian food, and our proud to do it in a unique, interesting way.”

The new menu favors hearty, meaty entrees like Braised Beef, Lamb Meatballs, and Pineapple Glazed Salmon, served with rice, and a choice of sides. Noodles locations Sides include Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Himalayan pink salt, Mac & Cheese with south asian crumb, and Crunchy Kale & Quinoa with masala vinaigrette.

At first glance, the new menu comes across as having little to do with Indian food, and that is on purpose. Noodles and company draper Aside from a Signature Chicken Tikka option, the Indian ingredients that are listed on the menu are de-emphasized. Noodles etc chicago For example, the “Indian spice dusting” that comes on the Baked Marble Potatoes is written in a finer font.

Morgan acknowledges that despite an increasing mainstream acceptance of ethnic food in America, there is still a barrier around Indian cuisine.

Based on Tava’s market research, people either love Indian food, or think they don’t like it without trying it, or vehemently dislike it, usually because they find it too spicy.

Morgan said what someone imagines a food to be, based on an unknown name like beef vindaloo, can be an obstacle for some people to try the food. Noodles and company louisville So Tava renamed the vindaloo as braised beef.

Actually, the strategy is a lesson successful national chains before Tava have already learned, said Morgan. Noodles and things Panda Express serves orange chicken and Kung Pao chicken, but these are not dishes you get in China. Noodles history They were made up as a way to communicate to Americans more clearly what the food is.

Over the past few years, experts have periodically predicted that Indian cuisine will be the next big thing, but so far that has not been the reality.

Some of the reasons have to do with Americans’ lack of familiarity with the cuisine, the small number of Indian people living in America (2.8 million, according to the 2010 Census), as well as the large number of mediocre restaurants out there serving overly-spiced, overly-heavy foods.

Tava’s millennial generation founders are among a recent boom in young people, usually second generation Indians, conceiving of Indian fast-casual restaurants.

Fast-casual is a restaurant format that typically sells unprocessed, fresh food, served at a counter, in clean, modern environments, with price points ranging from $8 to $12.

Krishnendu Ray, an NYU food professor and an expert on Indian and ethnic cuisine in America, said he has gotten more calls about this subject than anything else in the last two years. Noodles fast food They want to change the public’s negative perceptions by serving the wonderful Indian food they grew up eating, he explained.

Morgan wants to position Tava like any other mainstream lunch or dinner choice among American staples like Panera, Noodles & Company, Chipotle, or Smashburger. Noodles and company texas The plan is to expand Tava nationwide, and that means reaching people outside the major food savvy centers like Silicon Valley or New York.

“If calling Tava an Indian restaurant is setting the wrong expectation, then this is just a word. Noodles and company take out I am not trying to hide it, but I am not willing to slam the door on anyone,” said Morgan.

Eating is social, and if families chose not to eat at Tava because one person didn’t like Indian food, that wouldn’t work, said Morgan. Noodles and company franchise This is why the new Tava will offer enough variety that it makes it easy for everyone to find something they like, and none of the food will be overly spicy either.

Founded in 2011, Tava operates three Bay Area locations, in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Santa Clara. Noodles corporate The relaunch will affect only the Palo Alto location for now.

Last June, the company won $4.5 million in series A1 investment, led by the CircleUp Growth Fund, Kensington Capital, Agilic Capital, and former Smashburger CEO David Prokupek, through his investment fund HiGrowth Advisors.

The team is looking forward to getting more feedback on the new menu and concept, and they are prepared to make adjustments in order to get everything just right before moving to expand the number of locations.

Currently, the plan is to open a fourth location in Alameda, Calif., in May, and to enter the Denver, Colo., market with two locations by year-end.

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article stated Tava Indian Kitchen would hold its grand re-opening event on Feb. Noodles and comoany 17, but due to permitted delays it is being rescheduled.