Late night bites can soon be a reality for anyone who purchases a ticket to a New Parish show. Starting this April, Curry Up Now’s fifth location, and first in Oakland, will introduce an ordering kiosk and walk-up window that’s exclusive to concertgoers at The New Parish, an independent concert venue in Uptown known for its consistent mix of local and indie artists, DJs and bands.
Curry Up Now serves Indian favorites and not-so-well known dishes that boast “Indian street cred.” The flavors are inspired by what husband and wife co-founders Akash and Rana Kapoor grew up eating and combined with flavors they’ve tasted around the world. The Kapoors, along with fellow co-founder Amir Hosseini, started with a food truck in 2009 and now have five brick and mortar restaurants and five food trucks rolling around the Bay Area.
The kiosk, an iPad Pro programmed with a special, limited menu of easy-to-make and easy-to-eat options, is located in the outdoor courtyard shared by The New Parish, Bicycle Coffee and Curry Up Now, which is located on the corner of 18th Street and San Pablo, though the kiosk is only accessible once you’re inside The New Parish.
“We found it’s very popular for people who are attending events next door to come over and grab something to eat,” said Jeremiah Voris, Curry Up’s manager. “Events run later than our typical operating hours, so it’ll work out very well for both parties to have that arrangement.”
“We’ll see about what kind of modifiers our guests do, because when you can order whatever, you can just kind of go crazy with ordering,” added Akash Kapoor, the local chain’s co-owner, “so I’m curious to see how that happens.”
Natural light pours in through Curry Up’s wide windows. An array of tables—from wicker high-tops to four-tops and an inviting community table are paired with wooden and wicker chairs. Collages of framed portraits don the walls. Their menu, a “behemothic blackboard with Bollywood fonts,” features some of Curry Up’s fan favorites, like its signature “Sexy Fries”—crispy sweet potatoes waffle fries topped with shredded cheese and a generous spoonful of chicken tikka masala, with spice that catches up with you after a few bites. (Beef, lamb, paneer tikka masala and fries the “Hella Vegan” way are all options, too).
If you’re more into fries and spice without the fuss, there’s the Dynamite Tangra Wings and fries combo. The wings, sprinkled with sesame and black onion seeds, are tossed in a sinus-opening secret sauce that’s described as “an insanely spicy Indian Chinese sauce” on the menu. Insane is not an understatement: Having some mango lassi or a beer on hand to temper the spice is suggested.
As a less spicy but still flavorful alternative, the special menu also features “Itsy Bitsy Naan Bits,” bite-sized pieces of fluffy, toasted naan with a tikka masala dipping sauce, or “Indian Railway Cutlets,” maggi masala noodles (think ramen) and veggies that are breaded, shaped into thick patties, fried, then served with a zesty Sriacha aioli and chutney. Curry Up’s burritos and bowls are available, including its “Punjabi by Nature” combination of saag tikka masala, rice, chana and onions. To satisfy a sweet tooth, there’s the “Churros Garma Garam,” churros dripping with Bournavita chocolate sauce, made from a malt mix that’s popular in India, Nepal, Nigeria, Ghana and other countries.
Kapoor said they’d been thinking about opening an Oakland spot for about two years but didn’t start looking until last fall. “My wife and I grew up near Calcutta in India, so this reminded us of old office buildings and old apartments there,” said Kapoor. “We fell in love with this the minute we saw it and we made a decision to get it within a few minutes of stepping foot inside.”
Though their newest location has only been open since February, Kapoor says it has had “their highest sales in its first and second months out of all their restaurants openings,” with the exception of their San Jose location, their largest. “It’s outdone what we thought it would,” said Kapoor.
The New Parish, which typically schedules at least four shows per week, has helped to keep business steady. Kapoor remembers a Sunday when his restaurant was “jam-packed” because of a day party going on next door. “They’re there, we’re there—if they’re hungry, they’re going to come to us,” said Kapoor. “We just got slammed.”
He welcomes the business, knowing that his restaurant is helping fill a void of restaurants in the area and helps The New Parish keep their patrons happy too. “They actually wanted a food vendor to be able to support their guests,” Kapoor said. “Financially, [for us] it makes a big difference when you have 4,000-6,000 people who go into their doors every week.”
In the coming months, Kapoor says he has plans to install a similar kiosk and walk-up window with an express menu on San Pablo Avenue that’s not exclusive to New Parish concertgoers, to cut down on lunch rushes. But for now, he’s focusing on debuting the courtyard convenience, though they don’t plan to make a big announcement about it. “We kind of like doing things on the downlow,” said Kapoor. “We’ll test it out and see what happens.”