Thursday, May 4, 2017

Veteran restaurateur Sushil Malhotra opening Old Monk in former Babu Ji space on Avenue B

Sushil Malhotra, founder of Curry in a Hurry, Akbar Dawat and Café Spice, among others, is opening Old Monk at the former Babu Ji space on Avenue B at 11th Street.

Malhotra confirmed the news in an email. He described it as an "exciting Indian concept coming up soon." In a follow-up phone call, he said that "it's definitely going to be a fun place." He said they were still working out details on decor and pricing, and wasn't quite ready to share more details.

Malhotra and his team, which includes chef Navjot Arora (a partner and executive chef at the well-regarded Chutney Masala Indian Bistro in Westchester County), are on this month's CB3 SLA committee docket for a beer-wine license for 175 Avenue B. (This item will not be heard during the committee meeting on May 15.)

The listed hours for Old Monk are 5-10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 1-11 p.m. on Saturday, and noon-10 p.m. on Sunday.

Westchester Magazine had a profile on Malhotra from 2012. Per the article:

The last time you had a yen for Indian cuisine, Sushil Malhotra probably satisfied your craving, albeit indirectly. Have you ever had a fantastic meal at Chutney Masala in Irvington or taken clients to dinner at Dawat in Manhattan? Maybe you’ve picked up lunch at the Café Spice booth in Grand Central’s Dining Concourse. And if you frequent Whole Foods Market, you may have savored the Indian food from its hot bar.

You can thank Malhotra for all of those culinary delights. The Irvington resident also can be given major credit for bringing upscale Indian food to the United States. In fact, the food from Malhotra’s empire, Café Spice, is now so popular that he can hardly keep up with the demand.

Malhotra grew up in India and moved to NYC in 1966 at age 17. Per the article: "He and his father opened a small spice business that supplied South Asian spices, chutneys, and crispy breads to New York City’s curry houses. The Malhotras stored their spices in their Jackson Heights garage, and Sushil used his weekends to join his father in dropping off chutney and spices to Indian restaurants in Manhattan and Queens." In 1976, he quit engineering to become a restaurateur.

Old Monk's arrival also marks the end of Babu Ji, which went dark in early March. A sign, since removed, at the door noted that they were "taking a break."

The closure followed a report by Eater's Ryan Sutton outlining details of a second wage-theft and overtime lawsuit against owners Jessi and Jennifer Singh.

Babu Ji opened in June 2015.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Report: Babu Ji on Avenue B hit with another wage lawsuit


Giovanni said...

"Taking a Break" is the new "Peelin' Potatoes." Brown wrapping paper on the windows and the old handwritten "Under Renovations" note are other distress signals. If yet more fancy Indian food doesn't work out here, maybe they can convert this space into Curry In A Hurry South and turn this area into the next Indian Row.

Trixie said...

Well, I've always liked Curry in a Hurry and I'll keep my fingers crossed that I'll be able to afford to eat here. I wonder if they'll honor my Curry in a Hurry frequent diner card? I'm just a few punches away from a complimentary meal!

Anonymous said...

We may never know if there were other reasons for Babu Ji's closure besides the 2 lawsuits. They appeared to do a do a good business however they may have over invested in renovations, too high a lease etc... I checked out their menu and thought it was too expensive and I refused to support another destination restaurant on B instead I prefer to spend my money with affordable restaurants like Desi Galli, Y Cafe etc....

Unfortunately the EV is percieved these days as a foodie mecca which continues to bring high concept places to our blocks all of which do not serve there neighbors but the Uber crowd. If this new restaurant follows that path then I will not support it, however their opening hours makes me believe this will not be a place serving $18 cocktails so that might be a good sign.

Anonymous said...

Old Monk is name of Indian "RUM"