MEET YOUR HOSTS!
Vinod & Shikha Kapoor are the owners of the Bombay Club in Harvard Sq. They started off as owners of a small basement restaurant in Back Bay called Kebab-N-Kurry in 1980. After winning the Best of Boston in the early 80's they decided to expand their business. They opened another Kebab-N-Kurry in Providence, R.I. After several years of success in the business of Indian Cuisine, they opened Bombay Club in 1991. This was a change from the traditional Indian restaurant. They decided that the Indian Restaurant Industry needed a more upscale dining facility. They proved that when they opened the 126 seat, well decorated, and operated Bombay Club.
Vinod Kapoor's experience is closer to the traditional immigrant experience, but he owes his success more to the Indian virtues of thrift, industry, and family than he does to the efficacy of the American free enterprise system.
Back in 1981 when he wanted to open his first restaurant, he was turned down by three banks. Without the support of a brother-in-law who loaned him the $30,000 he needed to buy the 40-seat Kebab-N-Kurry, in Back Bay, he might still be a store manager for Fayva Shoes.
Instead, he and his wife, Shikha, turned the dying restaurant around, paid off the loan in two years, went on to open a second Kebab-N-Kurry near Brown University, in Providence, and eventually the 126 seat Bombay Club in Harvard Square and the Bombay Club takeout at the Burlington Mall. In the five years since it opened, Bombay Club has earned a national reputation for excellence, won a slew of awards, and has become the Indian restaurant of choice for celebrities like Robert Plant and Ravi Shankar when they're in town - not to forget the Indian stars who come to visit their children at Harvard and dine in the kind of relaxed anonymity that would be impossible in Bombay.
There are many reasons why Vinod, now 46, and Shikha, 43, are successful. It wasn't just the loan. They worked hard. Vinod ran the restaurant while Shikha kept her job as a bank teller and worked in the restaurant at night. They created a welcoming ambiance for the largely student clientele, upgraded the quality of the food, and eschewed preservatives, additives, and artificial colorings. Because they couldn't get the spices they wanted in Boston at that time, once a month they rented a station wagon, got up before dawn, drove to New York, loaded up with spices from India, and then drove back to Boston in time to open at night. They kept the spices in sealed plastic bags and ground what they needed fresh every day.
Their attention to detail is remarkable. An example: Scarcely a reviewer visits Bombay Club without mentioning the selection and quality of its breads.
Excerpt from Boston Magazine, Nov. 1996