Amar Singh opened the first Bombay Bowl in 2009 in Centennial, Colo., with the goal of offering a fast, fresh and healthful version of Indian food, deconstructed to allow guests to customize dishes. A second location opened near Denver’s downtown in May.
With an $8.50 average check, Bombay Bowl is similar to Chipotle. Guests walk a service line and select a bowl, plate, roti roll (similar to a burrito) or naan sandwich.
Proteins include chicken, braised beef or soft tofu, and sauces range from tikka, a creamy, curry-style tomato-base; to vindaloo, a spicy-and-sweet version made with paprika and cumin. Guests also select from various chutneys.
Adventurous eaters can select from Bombay Bowl’s “street food” line-up, which includes small snacks like aloo tikka chaat, potato cakes filled with seasoned cheese atop chickpea curry, pickled onions, cilantro, garlic and tamarind chutney.
While those ingredients don’t normally fill the plates of fast-casual diners, Bombay Bowl’s hip environment makes the cuisine more approachable to Americans, Singh said.
“They feel like they own it,” he said. “Traditional Indian [food] isn’t so approachable. But I’m making it approachable by putting people in control.”
Restaurant units have open kitchens, so guests can see the proteins being prepared. The more complex sauces are cooked in a commissary in anticipation of future growth. Singh said he’s looking for investors to open more locations; he is not interested in franchising at this point.