Indian restaurant opens in formerly troubled space

Bill Livick

Photo by Scott Girard. Haveli features small and large, family-sized tables around its dining room. Left, Haveli Owner Devinder Badwal stands next to the restaurant’s buffet line, which features a wide range of Indian food options.

A 10,000-square-foot space at 5957 McKee Road has not been a successful site for a series of restaurants that have come and gone since 2006.

But the owners of a new Indian restaurant think they have a solution. Brothers Devinder Singh Badwal and Sital Singh opened Haveli Indian Restaurant Wednesday, April 9, in a 2,500-square-foot section of the larger space.

Manager Rinku Badwal said the owners feel the smaller space will work well for their operation.

“We’re pretty confident about this restaurant,” Badwal said. “The previous restaurants have operated in like 10,000 square feet - that’s a great big restaurant. This will be more manageable.”

Badwal said Sital Singh will be the head chef at Haveli, which will have seating for about 80 diners.

Singh and his brother also own and run the popular Taste of India on Monroe Street in Madison, which Rinku Badwal has managed in the past. They also operated a Taste of India in Rockford, Ill., which they closed in February.

Like the brothers’ other restaurants, Haveli specializes in the cuisine of North India, which means lots of curry dishes. Badwal said North Indian food incorporates a lot of spinach in recipes.

He described the recipes at Haveli as less spicy than traditional Indian food.

“It’s Americanized, because our customers are totally American,” he said.

He noted Haveli’s menu is not as extensive as ones you’ll find in many Indian restaurants because the food is limited to dishes from just one part of India.

“Everything is curry,” he explained. “There is not the coconut milk and not all the same spices that they use in the south of India.”

The new restaurant has about 10 employees, Badwal said, and there is not a lot of Indian décor because the dining room is mostly windows.

“Three-quarters of the space is glass,” he said.

Badwal said Haveli serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. daily.

“The restaurant may be closed on Mondays,” he said. “Right now we’re not sure about that. We want to see how it goes.”

The Fitchburg location has been vacant since Jimmy’s American Tavern closed in the fall of 2011 after about five months in business. Prior to Jimmy’s, the space had been home to Fitch’s Chophouse, Good Times and Kickshaw.

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