Yesterday we shared the first half of our conversation with the owner and chef of Curry Corner, Farah Khalid. Today we'll learn why she loves being in Tempe so much.
After her last restaurant, Copper Kettle, closed last year, Farah wasted no time in finding a new location to start over again. How long did it take to find a new place? And why did you choose this location?
December and all of January we were closed, and in the end of January I signed this lease and we opened here in February...I started searching in this area and in the neighborhood for where I could get a better place to open a new restaurant. I told everybody I didn't want to go further. I wanted to be in the same neighborhood.
Has business carried over?
I got a really good response. I have very warm feelings for my customers, for everybody. I have customers who are families that are expecting, and then they have their babies, and now these babies are 10 years old saying, "We want to go to the Copper Kettle." And then we have students that graduated and when they visit Arizona, it never happens that they don't come back. They always come back like, "Oh, auntie how are you doing?" It's a very good feeling. You can't express these feelings in words...everyone was telling me, "Why are you opening here?" and I said, "I have a strong feeling - I have faith that if I open my restaurant again in the same neighborhood I will get the same response." And that was right. [My customers] are like a family. They come all the way from their homes and they are giving me love and showing affection.
The keys to success
My purpose is not to make money. I am making money at the same time, but I'm looking in front of me at the students' options also and, you know, it's very difficult for them. If a student comes and he's spending seven bucks and if we don't give him rice and naan bread, if we charge them extra, they won't come. Seven...eight [dollars] is ok. They'll come. My portion of food is also quite a big portion. They can take one item and get extra naan and that way they can share. This is the students' area and if you are giving good food, if the quality is good and fresh, they will always come back. I think that's the key: work hard. If you work hard it will always pay you back.
So are you the one in the kitchen most of the time?
Mostly I'm in the kitchen. I check everything and I don't let it go without my approval. I don't get holidays right now since I just opened -- I'm not going anywhere. If I do go on vacation I make sure someone's here. My son is helping; he has the same passion as me. He inherited that from me. He made some changes, and they are good changes. So he'll be the one.
Looking toward the future
When I opened this I was wondering, "Oh my god, I don't know if I'm going to get the same response...if all my customers will come back or not." But once we opened it was all word of mouth. We didn't even have a sign. But still customers were coming and saying, "Oh you're back!" and one customer talked to another customer, and another to this one...other people are also coming, families. Space is getting short. We are going to expand in the December holidays. I have the hookah company next door so we'll see in the future maybe I'll expand there. I'm very excited...I'm very happy.
Tomorrow we've got Farah's recipe for Curry Chicken.
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