India’s first Chipotle-like assembly line burrito chain will open tomorrow, an experiment in cross-cultural fast-casual dining:
Three U.S.-based entrepreneurs on Wednesday are launching the first of a series of burrito restaurants in India. They picked India’s software hub as the location of their first-ever outlet, called “California Burrito.” The menu, which has been tailored to Indian tastes, offers dishes that are spicier than U.S. equivalents and offers a wide choice of vegetarian fillings. They will not be serving any beef or pork, which are taboo for the country’s Hindus and Muslims, respectively. … Drinks include Pink Nimbu Paani, an Indian take on the pink lemonade, which here includes chaat masala, a spice mix.
Saritha Rai has more:
“Bangalore is the perfect test market because it is the America of India. Many multinationals are here, people are well-travelled, but cannot find the food they are used to in the US,” said [Dharam] Khalsa. … The Indian palate is quite ready for Mexican food, [Bert] Mueller said: “It’s roti versus tortilla, chutney versus salsa and dal versus beans.” However, the trial runs suggest there are barriers. Many tasters during the trial un-wrapped the foil of their burritos, and proceeded to separate the rice, vegetables and tortilla. “Indians are not used to eating rice and roti together but we hope Bangalore will be the trendsetter,” said Mueller.
Late last year I grabbed drinks in Georgetown with Mueller, one of the company’s founders (and fellow W&M alum and Virginia Informer editor), just days before they left to start the project. Much was still up in the air then; some of the financing had yet to be worked out, and as the WSJ article mentions, getting licensed and acquiring a bank account in India isn’t easy. Apparently they’ve worked all that out — congrats, Bert!