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Lokvani Talks To Vinod And Shikha Kapoor

Nirmala Garimella

These days the hottest news in town is the celebrity restaurant with owners who share celebrity like status. The Kapoors, Vinod and Shikha, owners of the well known Bombay Club at Harvard Square, lead the way. They were one of the first in the business that expanded to an impressive list of culinary places: Kebab N Kurry, Masala Art and Curry leaf. “Quips Shikha,” In this business, your physical presence is required” and sure enough, as restaurant owners they are no exception. They have taking the dining concept to the next level, putting their money and expertise in expansion, innovation and last but not the least in philanthropy.

It is this last concept that brings me to their home in Lexington. The Kapoors have generously hosted a fundraising dinner for more than 250 people and raised $84,000 for the devastating earthquake in Pakistan and India. Says Vinod Kapoor, “We have done this when ever there has been a natural calamity”. He recalls the fateful Saturday when he woke up to see the news. “I know that something had to be done immediately and that is when I picked up the phone and called up various people. Purnima Sanghal of IMANE suggested the Massachusetts Medical Society in Waltham as the venue and APPNE joined in the efforts. Tonight we are doing the same for the India Association of Greater Boston (IAGB) who is raising funds for the same purpose and we are expecting a good turnout. Our desire to help is to support these causes in the best way we can and food is always very welcome”

To the Kapoor family must go the well deserved credit for internationalizing the Indian taste for succulence and spice in its food.  Shikha Kapoor maintains that the food that is offered at their restaurant is popular because they cater to the tastes of the international palate without compromising on taste and quality. “I still make it a point to visit each restaurant to check on this. I have chefs who have been with me for the past 20 years and are well trained to do the cooking. The best compliments that I get are from Indians themselves because they know the taste of the real food”, says Shikha Kapoor.

Today, they can rightly be called the trendsetters for others in the business. Many of the innovations that they adopted have become a global favorite and been adapted by the rest. Shikha Kapoor takes a walk down memory lane reliving the story of her early days. “I ran the Natraj restaurant in Central Square with my sister. After I got married to Vinod, we started other restaurants like Kebab-N- Kurry, Bombay Club and restaurants in Rhode Island and New port and now we have been here for more than 24 years"

Why is it that the Bombay Club is the best known of the lot? Says Shikha, “It is because I guess it is in Harvard Square, offers great food for the students and visitors. Vinod is always there. He has such a rapport with people, loves to entertain and makes a connection with anybody who visits the restaurant”.

 The Kapoors travel a lot mostly to Europe and India to study and explore the latest in the culinary industry and enhance the eating experience of their customers. Says Shikha,” We added the Spice bar in Masala Art which is essentially a kitchen outside a kitchen. This is one place where a chef stands near the bar , cooks and explains to you from start to finish all about  Indian food and the spices. It is a unique experience and customers love it.” The Kapoor’s son Sorabh and daughter in law Anuradha run the show at Masala Art while their second son Rohan has branched out to work at Liberty Mutual.

 Eateries can sometimes become histories. “The Kapoors popularity has grown since they opened their first restaurant 24 years ago. “ Today politicians, bollywood stars, international celebrities….we have had so many guests here", says Vinod Kapoor. Their restaurants have also served as a launching pad for many chefs who have now branched out of their own, a point that Shikha makes with pride.

 A lot has changed over the years but the spirit of the restaurant has remained the same. So have the Kapoors’ cheerful, friendly and warm attitude. Says Rajnikant, President of IAGB who was involved in the evening fundraiser for the earthquake victims. “They are both fantastic and friendly to work with. Their entire team in the restaurant took very good care of the participants. By initially suggesting this fundraiser event and later on stepping up to provide food and place, all at their cost, the Kapoors have shown their dedication to help the Indian subcontinent and its people at times of crisis”.



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