Trying to ensure menu for success

  • “Namaste,” a restaurant that will serve Nepalese and Indian food, is in the process of getting its permits in Greenfield. The owner, landlord and Health Department are all trying to avoid the issues that befell the former restaurants in the location. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Friday, December 08, 2017

GREENFIELD — Saphal Rana Magar doesn’t want a bad experience to ruin people’s chances to have South Asian food in town. 

With plans of opening in January — if everything goes well with the Greenfield Health Department — Rana Magar’s “Namaste,” will serve Nepalese and Indian food, in the same location where the embattled Indian by Nature, formerly The Clay Oven, once occupied.

“A lot of people are going to be skeptical about that, but we are working with the city, the Board of Health, the Chamber of Commerce, everyone,” Rana Magar said. “Because of one person, I don’t want the whole town to lose a good place.”  

The catch, though, is the health department has to approve of the restaurant first. The department’s new director, Alexeev Jones, wants to ensure that the restaurant has no potential ties to Indian by Nature.

“We want to make sure, definitely, that they are not in any type of form connected with the past owners of Indian by Nature,” Jones said. 

The department received the permit application from the potential restaurant this week. Jones has questioned Rana Magar and will continue to do so whether there are any ties to Indian by Nature. Jones also gave Rana Magar the opportunity to review the records of what Indian by Nature failed at, so that they can prevent those issues. 

“We want people to have wonderful, tasty food, but we want it to be safe as well,” Jones said. “And we’re not going to play any games with this.”

After Indian by Nature was permanently shut down for health code violations and mismanagement by the Greenfield Board of Health in September, landlord Timothy Grader was looking for a new restaurant to take up the Main Street space. 

He heard from about 15 restaurants, but ended up deciding between two plans: one for a half Nepalese, half Indian restaurant and the other for a breakfast and lunch two-restaurant chain based in Northampton. 

“It was important to me that we found somebody that was a new operator — somebody who was going to operate the business in a clean manner that would be in alignment with the town,” Grader, president of Holyoke Property Management, said. 

Grader and Rana Magar have no worries about opening up a restaurant serving Indian food at a space that has struggled with public perception the last couple of years.

Rana Magar said he does not know the former owners at all. Grader said to his knowledge, Rana Magar has no connections to the owners of the prior restaurant, co-owners Madan Rathore and Chander Parkesh Kanojia. 

Although Grader acknowledges that there may be pushback by some people in the community toward a new restaurant in the space that also serves Indian food, he said, “you can’t fault somebody for someone else’s actions.” 

This will be For Rana Magar’s first restaurant, after work at several food service restaurants before this. His lead chef will be coming from the high-end West Hartford restaurant INDIA in Blue Back Square, which was founded by the chef Prasad Chirnomula, who has been on the Food Network's “Chopped” and has well-received restaurants elsewhere in Connecticut. 

Grader expects Rana Magar to be in the space for a long time to come, saying he made a “significant investment in the place.” 

The landlord is excited for his new restaurant and believes it can overcome the overall negative sentiment in town associated with Indian by Nature. 

“I’m glad that Greenfield is welcoming to the small business community and people of different ethnic backgrounds,” Grader said.