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     Currying flavor with Americans

Sood hopes to establish Gourmet India franchises across the country By Douglas Belkin, The Boston Globe, August 27, 2006

BURLINGTON -- Yogi Sood sits in front of his restaurant in the food court at the Burlington Mall talking strategy with his son. The conversation is not about recipes or vendors or price points. Their recipes already are great, their vendors steady, their prices fair.

Rather, this debate is about the speed at which they should conquer the world. Yogi, a 57- yearold retired engineer and the founder of Gourmet India, wants to do it quickly. Now. Yesterday. "Fifty franchises in five years," he says.

Vishnal Sood, 24, raises an eyebrow. He is deferential to his father but the eyebrow is ominous. Yogi interprets: "My son thinks I'm a bit ambitious," he says. Then he laughs.
Perhaps, but to be the Ray Kroc of Indian food -- as Yogi Sood intends -- will take ambition and then some.

Kroc started franchising McDonald's 51 years ago and changed America's eating habits. Sood started Gourmet India 11 years ago and wants to change those habits again. But instead of
hamburgers and french fries, Sood wants to sell traditional Indian dishes such as chicken tikka masala and saag paneer.

And not to a few thousand people a day -- as he does now across Greater Boston -- but to hundreds of thousands. From sea to shining sea. And, yes, he wants to do it soon. "This can be a national chain," he says, lowering his voice. "Our food is good; our prices are fair. I don't see why not."

Diners seeking Indian food in the area in the last couple of years are likely to have eaten at one of Sood's five locations -- which stretch from Burlington to Rhode Island.
Still, a national chain? "It's a big leap," says Harry Balzer , an expert in the eating habits of Americans. "People's taste changes very slowly."

Read the full article here

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