The owner of Bloomington restaurant India Garden opened a new restaurant, A Little Downtown Café, on March 15. The new restaurant serves American breakfast food all day as well as several other diner-style items.
A Little Downtown Café is located on 424 Fourth St., the same location as India Garden. The two restaurants use the same entrance, but they have two separate kitchens, separate hallways and separate dining areas for customers, Owner Rakesh Kumar said.
Kumar said the incentive to serve a new menu came from the available space — India Garden had a second kitchen that was previously unused.
India Garden has been open in Bloomington since 2013, and Kumar’s family has worked in the restaurant business for more than 10 years, he said. Kumar’s family originally opened a restaurant, also called India Garden, in downtown Indianapolis in 1992. He said his family decided to expand their business to Bloomington to create a wider customer base.
“It’s a very nice town, it's a college town and there’s a lot of Indian students,” Kumar said. “They love to eat Indian food, and there’s not too many Indian food options.”
The absence of international students on campus could mean decreased sales for local restaurants, specifically Asian businesses, International Market founder Mark Li told the Indiana Daily Student on April 1. Kumar said he hopes the restaurant’s new menu will supplement sales and bring in new clientele during the pandemic.
Business partner Rajeev Chowdhrey said he shared Kumar’s hope that the new menu will help bring in new customers. He said although business has been off to a slow start for the new restaurant, he hopes it will begin to pick up soon.
“We are a little bit behind,” Chowdhrey said. “We are waiting for the new signs and permission from the government to put those up. We hope that once we do people will follow us.”
Some students like junior Anna Wiernicki expressed interest in the café’s more casual dining environment and said it seems like a good option for a quiet study space.
“Normally I don’t go out to study, with COVID that’s so hard now,” Wiernicki said. “But as places open back up, I’m excited to try out new spots close to campus.”
Kumar said offering the second menu was not a difficult transition for India Garden, and the opening of the second restaurant has run smoothly during the pandemic.
“We have a big space in India Garden,” Kumar said. “It’s not hard for us since we already have the set up ready to go, so we decided to open.”
Kumar said he had to hire more staff to help with the new restaurant and will soon be looking to hire more. While the restaurant staff has previously been family, Kumar said he plans to look for student employees in the future.