March 18, 2018 | ° F

Kaati Zone rolls out new George Street location

Photo by Tian Li |

The chicken tikka roll and the mango lassi, a yogurt-based drink, are options available at Kaati Zone, an Indian food vendor that recently opened on George Street.The Kaati Zone vendor in New Brunswick is the first U.S. location for the 9-year-old franchise.

A culinary melting pot, New Brunswick has proudly embraced a multitude of ethnic cuisines. The streets of the Hub City provide the hungry student with a taste of global fare — Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Greek and a myriad more.

Last month, the New Brunswick restaurant scene saw the addition of a newcomer with a fair amount of experience behind it.

Kaati Zone opened its newest location Oct. 25 on George Street. With more than 25 fast-food style restaurants, the Kaati Zone franchise has been serving customers throughout India. The New Brunswick location is Kaati Zone’s first venture into the American market.

CEO Kiran Nadkarni founded Kaati Zone in 2004, in the Indian fast-food industry’s infancy. Nadkarni sought to create an international franchise dedicated to serving quality Indian food.

“Having been a venture capitalist myself, I wanted to do something which is of a significant scale rather than just a single restaurant,” Nadkarni said. “The idea was to build an Indian food brand that would be available not just to Indian customers, but also to international parties.”

The kati roll proved the perfect product for Nadkarni’s purpose. A popular street food from Kolkata, India, the kati roll contains one or more fillings wrapped inside an Indian flatbread. Since its first restaurant opened on Church Street in Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka, Kaati Zone has experienced profound growth.

The franchise has enjoyed notable success in India at sporting events and concerts, sometimes selling more than 2,500 kati rolls per night. At their Bangalore International Airport location, off-peak turnaround time for an order is less than two minutes.

Portable and convenient, the kati roll lends itself well to hungry costumers on the move.

In addition, the kati roll represents a healthier alternative to more mainstream fast-food products. Kaati Zone uses lean meats, and its fillings are never deep-fried.

When ordering, customers are given the choice of a white bread or whole wheat roll. For an additional charge, egg can be added to each kati roll. In the future, Nadkarni hopes to extend egg whites as an option to the New Brunswick location, as they are available at Kaati Zone restaurants in India.

Eager to acquire a dedicated customer base in New Brunswick, Nadkarni has many plans for the newly opened George Street location. He aims to implement a catering service in the near future and hopes to offer a delivery option as winter arrives.

At the moment, the New Brunswick Kaati Zone is expanding and using customer feedback to refine their menu. The restaurant prepares its products using recipes identical to those in its locations in India, but Nadkarni anticipates localizing the menu to better fit American tastebuds.

The menu includes one of the chain’s most popular rolls, the chicken tikka roll, as well as a vegetarian paneer tikka roll. Both rolls are also offered “achari,” or spicier.

The Kaati Zone menu will shortly see the addition of a grilled vegetable kati roll. Besides rolls, customers can try rice platters and samosas, potato-filled triangles. mango lassi, a yogurt-based drink, has been added due to popular demand.

At Kaati Zone, a customer’s second kati roll is always $1 off. For a limited time, patrons that order two rolls or a rice platter will receive a free medium drink.

Nadkarni said Kaati Zone would distinguish itself among the other Indian restaurants in New Brunswick because of its speedy service and affordability.

“The customer ultimately demands great food at [the] right prices,” Nadkarni said.

Intent upon achieving his dream of serving Indian cuisine on a global scale, Nadkarni sees much potential for the Kaati Zone franchise outside of India.

To further establish Kaati Zone’s presence in the United States, he hopes to one day expand the franchise further into cities with a large Indian-American population. For Nadkarni, the opening of the New Brunswick Kaati Zone is just one move into integration with the American market.

By Matthew Mikolay

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