The New Tandoor Fine Indian Cuisine Location Fills Sarasota's Hearts and Stomachs

Good Bite

Pictured: Poonam Maini celebrates the grand opening of the new Tandoor location with her family and team. Photo by James C. Johnson.

On Feb. 20, Poonam Maini, the owner of Tandoor Fine Indian Cuisine, celebrated the grand opening of her restaurant’s new and expanded space at University Town Center. When a larger location became available just two doors down in the same shopping center, Maini jumped at the chance to grow the business. “We knew that we needed a bigger kitchen and were struggling with limited kitchen space and seating,” says Maini. Tandoor has occupied the same space since 2013, drawing in devotees of Indian food and converting countless guests who became fans of the cuisine after a meal at Tandoor. The new location seats 150 and has updated decor. “Our goal was to create an ambiance with a fresh look that feels familiar to our guests,” she says.

After living in an abusive marriage, Maini obtained a divorce in 2007 and was left with the Tandoor restaurant to provide for her family. Together with her children Shubi, Milan and Shamini, she ran the restaurant which became a Sarasota staple. “We did everything, from hosting, bussing and serving,” she adds “and the kids knew that we had to work seven days a week to make ends meet.”

Maini hails from the Punjab state in northern India, from which she moved to the United States. Her executive chef, Swaran Singh, is also from Punjab and was instrumental in growing the business. Maini learned to cook from her father, and when she hired Singh, the pair combined their recipes to create a menu showcasing authentic northern Indian flavors. “Fan favorites are the chicken tikka masala, the Tandoori chicken and garlic and butter naan that we bake in the restaurant,” Maini says. Many of the dishes offer vegetarian options, with spinach as a star ingredient. Great care goes into every dish, and in the coming months, Tandoor will roll out a monthly menu featuring food from other regions of India, with a special emphasis on the Bombay area, where several members of her team are from. “I want to thank all of my team; I could not have done this without them,” she says.

Maini’s connection to India has strengthened as Tandoor has grown. For each meal served at the restaurant, she provides a meal for people in the Punjab region as part of her Share Care Global initiative. “Tandoor is everything to me,” she adds, “and it makes me work harder and provide great food to the community because I know that it’s making a difference in people’s lives.”

Tandoor Fine Indian Cuisine, 8447 Copper Creek Blvd., Bradenton, tandoorsarasota.com.

Pictured: Poonam Maini celebrates the grand opening of the new Tandoor location with her family and team. Photo by James C. Johnson.

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