Chirag and Bhavana Patel married in Gujarat, India, where Chirag studied physics and science. From there, the couple migrated to the U.S. and spent some time living in Michigan before landing in Houston. Chirag has held many roles throughout his professional career, but his goal of becoming a business owner was always in the back of his mind.
When Bhavana began running a catering business out of their home, Chirag took interest in the entrepreneurship aspects, which inspired them to turn Bhavana’s dishes into a professional business.
The Patels’ dream of running their own restaurant came to fruition in 2011, when they opened Mirch Masala. Bhavana is the primary owner, and Chirag serves as the general manager. Starting the business was not as easy as they thought it would be, and Chirag said they had a lot of learning to do.
“It was like a pastime activity, so we were doing it at our leisure,” he said. “But once we got into this, it was like [more] different expectations.”
Both vegetarians themselves, the Patels serve vegetarian and vegan Indian cuisine from all parts of India and like to use the freshest ingredients. Their dishes are mainly bean, pea and cauliflower based. Chirag said the preparation of their ingredients in their dishes can take three to four hours. Bhavana makes the yogurt used in their lassis and shakes from scratch.
Chirag said he has plans to turn Mirch Masala into a franchise and make the current location the main kitchen. He said they also plan to add meat options to the menu to serve a larger clientele.
“When we were going with only vegetarian food, we did not have much results,” he said. “As soon as we introduced only one chicken dish, our sales [shot] up.”
Chirag said satisfactory customer service begins with how the employees treat the customers. He said most customers are regulars, and they try to maintain a good retention rate.
“We train [the employees] more for the attitude before we even start training them for the work itself,” he said.
Mirch Masala, 10758 FM 1960, Houston. 281-955-9878. www.mirchmasalatx.com
Hours: Tue.-Sun. noon-9 p.m., closed Mon.