Downtown Madison cries out for a source of Indian food, and soon it will get one in Maharani Restaurant, scheduled to open the first week of January at 380 W. Washington Ave. That was the site, not long ago, of the Capitol Hill Grill and, not long before that, the Public House.
Maharani is the brainchild of Resham Singh, until recently of India Darbar,6119 Odana Rd. He says he will serve food from both the north and south of India at Maharani, as well as Swagat India Restaurant, which he is simultaneously developing at 707 N. High Point Rd. He hopes to open Swagat on Jan. 20.
'Swagat means 'welcome' in Punjabi,' says Singh, a native of the Indian state of Punjab. And maharani? It is Sanskrit for queen.
In addition to the restaurants, Singh operates the Maharani grocery store at 6717 Odana Rd.
Now that Fitchburg-based Premier Catering has apparently collapsed, catering services for the Overture Center will be assumed by Culinary Concepts of Madison, which is the catering arm of Peppermill Grill, 420 Gammon Place. Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Zilavy reports that Culinary Concepts will serve out the term of Premier's contract, which expires Aug. 31, 2007.
Premier was also exclusively licensed to serve alcohol at Olbrich Botanical Gardens and the Warner Park Community Recreation Center. However, alcohol service for those facilities' events already was scheduled to be taken over in January by Blue Plate Catering, which has now assumed those duties a month early.
January also is when officials at Ian's Pizza hope to open expanded quarters for their location at 115 State St. Construction is ongoing at the storefront to the east, which was left empty last summer when the adult bookstore State Street Arcade closed its doors.
'We decided to expand because of seating issues,' says Ian's general manager Clayton Scherer. 'We're also moving our delivery operations up there.' Currently delivery service operates from the other Ian's location at 319 N. Frances St.
The expansion is newsworthy, of course, but what about the truly burning question: Did Ian's employees turn up some interesting stuff at the vacated pornography shop? 'We did find numerous videos,' allows Scherer. 'Other than that, there was the expected, I guess you could say. We'll just leave it at that.'
Also new, as of a month or so ago, is Sunprint Bakery and Cafe, 4429 Milwaukee St., the latest outpost of restaurateur Rena Gelman.
Gelman took over the east-side storefront previously occupied for two years by Francois Bakery. That shop was the namesake of Francois Kiemde, the longtime Sunprint baker who, says Gelman, told her he would rather focus on baking than on running a business.
'We weren't really looking for a new location,' she says. 'It was small, and it tickled our fancy to be on the far east side, which we hadn't done.' The new Sunprint serves breakfast and lunch.
Downtown, meanwhile, Gelman's other Sunprint outlet at 1 S. Pinckney St. has suffered hardship amid roof repairs at the U.S. Bank building, Sunprint's home. 'They came in and said they're closing this entrance for several months,' she says of the East Washington Avenue doors that are Sunprint's main entryway. 'It's a major problem.'
Sunprint is still accessible via the building's Pinckney Street doors, and Gelman hopes a new salad bar ('more than cottage cheese and beets') will entice customers.
'We're hoping that people like us enough to come back,' she says.
Good news for west-side fans of La Queretana, the grocery and taquería that operates at two locations, 1417 Northport Dr. and 4686 Cottage Grove Rd.: Owner Froyland Ruiz has opened a third La Queretana location, this one a restaurant only, at 6644 Odana Rd.
Adieu, Serendipity, the now-shuttered eatery that former Restaurant Magnus chef Robert Hughes founded in Cambridge two years ago.