Srinivasa Nimmagadda describes himself as a “man of technology” so what prompted him to start an Indian fast food franchise? To hear Nimmagadda say it, a combination of passion and the opportunity to mainstream Indian cuisine led him to create Sankranti Indian Kitchen.
âAfter coming to this country in 1997 and going to all these Indian restaurants, I have always wondered:
âAs with our kathi rolls,â he continued, referring to the dish with tandoor-grilled meats wrapped in a steamed tortilla. âAnd they have burritos. Or our curry bowls; they have burrito bowls.
When Nimmagadda examined the national restaurant franchise landscape, he said he did not see a dominant Indian cuisine concept. There’s Masala Wok, an Indian and Asian food franchise with eight locations, and its sister brand, Tikka Shack, with seven units. There is also Sankalp, based in India in Ahmedabad, with over 50 restaurants but only three in the United States.
Perhaps the most advanced development is San Francisco-based Curry Up Now, created by Akash and Rana Kapoor in 2009 and now with 15 restaurants open and dozens more in development.
âCurry Up Now is street food. Ours is more traditional and traditional Indian cuisine, âNimmagadda said of the difference between the concepts. âStreet food is a whole different ball game. “
The Sankranti’s menu is inspired by the gourmet restaurant and banquet hall of the same name that Nimmagadda opened in 2018 in Johns Creek, Georgia, a northeast suburb of Atlanta. Its name is derived from a Sanskrit term which translates to “positive change” and is related to a three-day Hindu harvest festival. Nimmagadda, who grew up in India, decided to continue his life as a restaurateur after developing Vensai Technologies, the company he founded in 2002 and of which he is the CEO.
âMy IT business, I started in a basement and now have a multi-million dollar business,â he said. Nimmagadda considered âcoming back really bigâ in tech, but said his wife had encouraged him to pursue a long-held dream of starting a restaurant.
âI’m a technician, an electronics and communications engineerâ¦ but I’m really passionate about the food industry. My main hobby is cooking, I love to cook from scratch, âhe said. âMy heart is in the food industry. To achieve great success, we have to do what we are passionate about.
Nimmagadda used the 4,000 square foot kitchen of his fine dining restaurant as his “laboratory” to develop recipes for Sankranti Indian cuisine, working with his chefs on a menu of “very famous Indian dishes” such as vegetable samosas, paneer tikka, chicken tikka masala, lamb curry and tandoor skewers. âThis is high caliber food delivered in a quick and relaxed format,â he said.
The first quick and casual restaurant, a corporate restaurant outside of Atlanta in the Dunwoody area, will open in early 2022 and Nimmagadda plans to develop 10 in this subway market while expanding through franchise. He said he had a few people in the pipeline and, because he had been working on the concept for two years, had the infrastructure to support franchisees.
Part of this infrastructure is a central kitchen which will provide much of the components of Sankranti’s basic menu, such as its marinades, sauces and curries, which will then be prepared by line cooks in restaurants. âIndian cuisine is very complex, it has really distinct flavors,â said Nimmagadda, explaining that the goal of the central kitchen is to ensure consistency and ease of execution across multiple locations.
Nimmagadda is primarily looking to sign multi-unit development agreements, with an initial investment range of $ 221,300 to $ 499,900. Locations can range in size from 750 to 2,500 square feet, depending on the franchise information document.
âIndian cuisine is not common, there is no national brand. I’m starting with that intention, âNimmagadda said.