In the handful of years since the Hotz Valley View Café in Tremont shut its doors, the storefront space at 2505 Professor Avenue has been two separate Turkish restaurants: Istanbul Grill and Dervish Grill. Both operations suffered from the same issue, namely a lack of talented Turkish chefs to prepare the food.
“There is a very limited supply of Turkish chefs,” Drew Sasmaz, co-owner of Istanbul Grill, explains. “In all of Ohio there are maybe less than 10 chefs.”
What’s more, adds Sasmaz, who remains the property owner, a successful approach requires a sort of split personality when it comes to running the business.
“To be appealing to the Tremont atmosphere, the front has to be run like an American place and the kitchen like a Turkish restaurant.”
Those were the words of advice Sasmaz passed along to his new tenant, Ashish Patel, who will be opening Tremont’s first Indian restaurant within a couple weeks. Called Tandul, the restaurant will offer a familiar mix of primarily Northern Indian specialties.
“The word tandul is Sanskrit for rice,” Patel explains, adding that both tandul and tandoor-cooked dishes will comprise the heart and soul of the operation.
Neither Patel nor his main business partner hail from the restaurant industry, but that shouldn’t be cause for concern, he says.
“This is a completely new venture for us,” Patel notes. “We bring in plenty of business experience but a restaurant is something very new to us.”
But, he adds, they brought in an experienced managing partner to run the operation as well as two Indian chefs with plenty of restaurant experience to run the kitchen.
Tandul will offer a lunch buffet and conventional dinner service. No major modifications are being made to the space, which seats about 50 in two small dining rooms and at the bar, a vestige from the Hotz Valley View Café days.
“We love the location and the neighborhood, and we’ve had really good feedback so far,” Patel says. “Three different families have already stopped by and got really excited when we told them our plans.”