The twin stores cater to Austin’s fast-growing South Asian population.
With competitive prices, an array of fresh produce, frozen foods and dry goods, the store has a growing clientele of repeat customers.
“Our business actually went up by 30% in [the] COVID-19 pandemic,” Patel said.
Patel hails from Gujarat, India, and has been in the U.S. since 2001.
He has been in the grocery store business for 16 years, first in Chicago and then in Kentucky, but Desi Brothers is his first solo venture. Austin was a well-thought-out plan, he said.
Patel decided to open his first store in Austin when he read that Apple Inc. hired 10,000 employees for its Austin location a few miles from the location he chose for Desi Brothers. “So, I knew, three or four thousand [workers] will be Indian,” he said.In a layout similar to an H-E-B, the store carries fresh produce; spices; dairy; frozen meats; desserts, including gourmet ice creams; dals or lentils; and flours as well as packaged Pakistani, Indian and U.S. brands. Its cafeteria sells Indian vegetarian cuisine for lunch and fresh roti—comparable to Mexican tortillas—a staple in South Asian homes.
A few scattered cocktail tables flank the cafeteria in the far right corner for customers to stand for a quick bite.
Customers can choose an array of colorful mithai, Pakistani and Indian desserts including jalebis and gulab jamuns from behind the glass casing.
Fresh-squeezed sugar cane juice at the cafeteria is another cultural favorite.
“As long as we have fresh produce, fresh chapati and the cafeteria, our customers are happy,” he said. After the two Austin stores, Patel opened four more outside Austin. Desi Brothers Roti or chapati Flatbread traditionally made with wheat flour and water, rolled out and cooked on the stove Jalebi An orange-colored dessert that looks like a twisted pretzel but is crispier and thinner and dipped in sugar syrup.
3421 W. William Cannon Drive, Ste. 133, Austin
Hours: Mon.-Sun. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Desi dining
2506 W. Parmer Lane, Ste. 170, Austin
Hours: Mon.-Sun. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.