“I’ve wanted to [open a restaurant] since the 10th grade,” Bhat said. “I didn’t think I would do it as early as I did it.”
Bhat said she dreamed of eventually opening a sit-down restaurant where she could offer food inspired by her time growing up in India, France and Malaysia.
In 2018, Bhat opened 7 Monks Cafe-Comics and Games at 540 S. Castell Ave., New Braunfels, where customers could read comic books, play board games and order from a small menu that included coffee and Indian dishes.
After closing the game lounge in 2019, Bhat began working on plans to expand 7 Monks Cafe into an international restaurant with a focus on Indian and Mediterranean cuisine.
On Oct. 23, 2019, Bhat opened 7 Monks Cafe at its new location at 494 N. Seguin Ave., New Braunfels, with her mother, Neeta Bhat, joining her as head cook. Bhat and her mother have worked together since she opened Bonjour Texas.
“It’s awesome; we’ve worked together for six years,” Bhat said. As she and her mother planned the menu, Bhat focused on making Indian and Mediterranean food approachable and easy to understand while staying true to traditional flavors.
“You can really bring your whole family here, and if people are like, ‘I’m not crazy about curries,’ then they can eat an award-winning sandwich and still be really happy,” she said.
The cafe was open for four months when the coronavirus pandemic began in March, and the restaurant shut down temporarily while Bhat and her team created a strategy to continue serving customers.
The restaurant has since reopened for limited in-person dining, and Bhat hopes to expand outdoor seating options soon while still offering delivery and to-go options.
“We were just blown away by how supportive the community was,” Bhat said.
7 Monks Cafe
494 N. Seguin Ave., New Braunfels