Posted by Stefanie Gans, Dining Editor / Friday, March 8th, 2013
Asad Sheikh is on the prowl. He only opened Fairfax’s Curry Mantra two years ago and already opened another—Curry Mantra 2 in Falls Church—but plans to create up to eight Curry Mantra concepts by the end of next year.
Now, if you’re a Top Chef or have otherwise gained fame through television, it’s not uncommon to open multiple restaurants in as many years. But for Sheikh, a Falls Church-based father of two young children, the story unfolds in real life. Although, as a former franchisee of a number of Dunkin’ Donuts and Quiznos, he understands the complexities of owning multiple spaces.
“Once you deliver the product, they stick with you,” says Sheikh, 41. He still believes there’s plenty of Northern Virginians who aren’t familiar with Indian food and is determined to bring more, and varied, restaurants to the area. “I just want to be the number one in Northern Virginia,” Sheikh says, starting to laugh. “I’m trying to dominate the market.”
The 50-seat Curry Mantra 2, which, depending on expired leases and landlord discussions, could expand by another 50 seats next year, shows off London’s contributions to Indian food. His Vienna restaurant, Curry Mantra 3, set to open the first week of May, will honor the southern region of India and serve dishes on banana leaves.
Yesterday Sheikh met with the landlord to take over the former space of Masala Magic in Woodbridge. Next week Sheikh negotiates the contract: “It looks like it’s gonna happen.” Curry Mantra 4—each Curry Mantra will offer a different experience—is set for a regal theme, reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. “When you come in you feel like you’re entering a royal palace,” says Sheikh who is thinking about offering curry specialties from around India at Curry Mantra 4. “I need to think how Curry Mantra 4 will be different than 1, 2 or 3.”
“My goal,” says Sheikh, “is to have 7 or 8 by the end of next year. I think it’s a lot of potential in the market.” And while he wants to keep building in the area, he is seeking national exposure. “I want to go to Food Network channels and some reality shows,” says Sheikh. “If I can get the of Food Network, it opens the door to many opportunities.” Maybe television is the answer.
Tags: Asad Sheikh, Curry Mantra, Curry Mantra 2, Curry Mantra 3, Curry Mantra 4, Dunkin' Donuts, Fairfax, Falls Church, Masala Magic, northern virginia indian restaurant, nova indian restaurant, Quizno's, restaurant news, Stefanie Gans, taj mahal, Top Chef, Vienna, Woodbridge