If you ask the owners of Frontier Spice what’s special about their cuisines, they would say homemade spices and no coloring added to foods.
The color comes from spices, and it’s a traditional way of cooking that gives each dish its original flavor and a feeling of eating back home.
The preparation starts at night – the mixing of spices and follows both the Indian and American palate, says Surjeet Klair, partner at the Frontier Spice restaurant. whether its Frontier Dal, Tandoori Chicken, samosa, or Kadhi (made of yogurt and chickpea flour) – a few specialty dishes the restaurant offers and claims it’s their USP and in-demand food.
“Americans love our samosa,” Klair, who had worked at upscale Amber India told indica News.
Started in 2014 by Sukhminder Bir, the 1450-square-foot restaurant located in downtown Pleasanton has a seating capacity of 48 people with enough parking. The restaurant has maintained the downtown culture and has outside seating as well to enjoy California’s weather.
However, like all small businesses, the pandemic severely impacted them as well, but the owners feel lucky to overcome the challenges.
On coming back to business, Klair said, “The pandemic was challenging though it is better now, People are coming in. Many employees left and we had to do all work ourselves.”
When asked wasn’t government support Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was helpful, Klair said that it was helpful. But many are not coming back because they are getting unemployment benefits leading to the labor shortage.
“We used to get 20 to-go order that was hard to survive but what you can do,” he said and added the post-pandemic challenge is finding people to work, “Labor shortage is huge…it’s hard to find the labor in California because most have joined DoorDash, Uber Eats and then unemployment they are getting.
“I have hired from out of the state(California)…I had to hunt a lot and finally brought from out of state,” Klair said.
When asked what people miss that your restaurant offered, both Bir and Klair, natives of Punjab in India said, “We have to be innovative and competitive in the market. But due pandemic a lot has changed.”
“People come in looking for the lunch buffet, until pandemic hit last year, we used to offer a lunch buffet at $11.99 and was popular among customers but have to put on hold due to pandemic.
Frontier Spice’s third partner and chef is Sohan Singh Rawat, who was trained at the five-star hotel Ashoka in New Delhi. Rawat says the way they had been trained to cook from scratch is what makes the food unique as compared to the canned foods many restaurants offer.
An example of their signature food is Frontier Dal (black lentils slow simmered in tomato and butter) that takes almost 7 hours to cook.
“It’s an art,” said Rawat, who first met Klair and Bir at Amber restaurant, where he was a chef; an upscale Indian restaurant in the Bay Area. The three say they never knew destiny would bring them together one day.
When asked who their customers are, they said both Americans and Indians. Both enjoy nan and butter chicken and their homemade desserts Lychee Panna Cota (lychee-flavored custard]. However, targeting American customers, they also offer the combination of traditional favorites with innovative technique fusion foods – Mushroom Cheese Kababs, five-spice calamari and wasabi shrimp.
The three partners said they pride themselves on using only the finest and freshest ingredients available. The restaurant has a bar and serves varieties of beer and wines, including many beer brands from India as well.
They also offer catering services for over 400 people and carry 22 varieties of appetizers, 28 varieties of vegetarian dishes and 30 varieties of non-vegetarian including fish items.
Klair calls the Pleasanton downtown location – which still has succeeded to preserve and maintain the old downtown ambiance with the burgeoning IT companies around – an ideal venue for private dining events, dinners, corporate gatherings, and all of life’s celebrations.
The Frontier Spice website proclaims. “if there is such a word as Wonderosity, then this is the feeling we want our guests to have at the end, beginning and middle of their time with us…and far, far into the future too!”