Arun and Sumi, proprietors of Kashi Indian Restaurant in Annangrove, might just be the most
dedicated ‘foodies’ in the Hills District. When they’re not at their restaurant, or taking a tour group on a cuisine adventure to India, you’d think
a quiet night at home might be in order. But Arun and Sumi dine out once or twice a week – and it’s not, as you might suspect, because they don’t want
The couple are passionate about fabulous food, and about providing an enjoyable dining experience for their customers. Arun says that visiting a variety of restaurants keeps them on their toes. Not only does it help them to keep the diners’ perspective top of mind, it’s an opportunity to observe the experiences other restaurants offer from a business perspective. He says, “If a restaurant is doing something very well, or we notice something new, we want to think about whether we can we apply it to improve our restaurant.”
That would be more than enough to do for most restauranteurs, but Arun, already a well-qualified and experienced chef, has returned to TAFE to complete an Advanced Diploma in Hospitality Management.
Arun and Sumi have also immersed themselves in the local business community, and are active members of the Sydney Hills Business Chamber. Over the past few years, they’ve contributed by hosting the Chamber’s first event each year – the January Bollywood style Business After Five event has almost become a tradition.
With their focus on constant improvement, it’s no surprise that in the decade since opening, Arun and Sumi have built up a loyal following of locals, and not-so-locals, who keep returning for the Kashi experience.
Word of mouth is also doing wonders for the Kashi Indian Cuisine tour bookings. This year there will be two tours instead of one.
But that’s not quite the way some thought it would turn out.
They said it would never work
When Arun and Sumi purchased a struggling Seafood restaurant in Annangrove 10 years ago, and announced their intention to turn it into an Indian restaurant,
many told them they were making a monumental mistake, for multiple reasons: Annangrove was in the middle of nowhere. The restaurant wasn’t on a main
road, or even in a shopping centre. People who wanted to dine out went to Parramatta or the city. And the locals probably weren’t going to go much
for Indian cuisine.
But Arun’s previous experience running a successful restaurant in rural India, and his instincts about the Hills District were telling him a different story: he believed the locals would embrace an affordable, family-friendly local restaurant that offered fresh, high quality food.
From the first week Kashi Indian Restaurant opened, Arun and Sumi knew they’d made a sound decision.
A steady stream of locals ventured in, and the customer base grew quickly as happy diners returned, and recommended the restaurant to others.
Positive developments in the Hills District
In their 10 years of operation, Arun and Sumi have witnessed substantial changes in the Hills District. The residential area expanded, and the business park matured. The number of restaurants and other venues increased dramatically - but this couple is not afraid of competition. Quite the opposite. “This is all very positive” Arun says, “because having more restaurants keeps people in the area, so it’s good for all of us when people don’t feel they need to travel out of the area for a good restaurant experience.”
They’re excited rather than alarmed about the current pace of development associated with the new rail line. “I’m impressed by the Hills Council” Arun said. “We need the development, but it’s important to maintain the character of the region, and ensure the quality of the developments, and I believe our Council is doing a good job balancing those things.”
Arun says that social changes have also had quite an impact on restaurants over the decade. “People have less time for cooking. And I’ve noticed a change in the dining patters of regular customers – they spend less each time than they used to, but come in more often. I think that’s a good thing. And of course, people often now research restaurants online before choosing.
Late night dining anyone?
There’s one change that Arun and Sumi hope to see happen in the district sooner rather than later. Arun says, “At the moment, almost everything is closed by 9 or 10pm, and I think the Hills District is ready for a late-night dining precinct.”
There’s little doubt many locals would support that idea!
About the author: Leonie Seysan operates the content and blog writing service Article Writers Australia, and is the Chamber's content support partner.