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Kati Roll Company named one of 50 fastest growing Asian-American businesses

May 25
22:40 2012

Payal Saha

NEW YORK: When Payal Saha first conceived the idea of The Kati Roll Company ten years ago, she could not guess that her New York-based eatery would garner such a large following of loyal customers that within 10 years, she would boast three NYC locations and one in London.
With plans to open more stores in the near future, The Kati Roll Company has just been named one of the 50 Fastest Growing Asian-American Businesses in the United States by the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce (USPAACC). The award which recognizes the fastest growing Asian-owned businesses with revenues of $1 million + and with at least three years in business, is awarded annually. Past winners include the likes of Care.com, Vizio, Search Pros and Ameredia.
The award will be presented to Ms. Saha at a Black Tie Gala on June 5 during the USPAACC Annual Business Opportunity Conference, CelebrAsian 2012, being held at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel & Conference Center, Maryland.
The USPAACC chosen Fast 50 represent over $3.8 billion in sales over a wide range of industries including healthcare, IT, energy, media and more spanning an array of Asian ethnic groups ranging from Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese all the way through to Malaysian and Indian. The companies chosen for the award have their financials verified and ranked by Ernst and Young.
“I feel very honored that The Kati Roll Company has been chosen for this award,” says Ms Saha. “When I first started my restaurant 10 years ago, I never expected that one day we would be ranked along side other such prestigious companies.”
When Ms Saha first opened her doors in NYC’s eclectic Greenwich Village, it was she and one assistant that cooked and served each kati roll including its proprietary 22-spice blend marinade used for the fillings and the signature flaky, hand-rolled parathas.
Her hard work paid off as more and more New Yorkers became fans of the eatery. The Kati Roll Company was given the World’s Best Award by Travel + Leisure’s reader’s poll and was named Time Out New York’s Best New Eatery of 2002 and Best Restaurant of 2004 and 2005.
Today, The Kati Roll Company serves about half a million rolls per year amongst its four locations, and Ms Saha still insists on using the freshest quality ingredients that are all cooked from scratch in her establishments. “We have never cut corners and used pre-made ingredients. I wouldn’t want to eat something like that and I don’t expect my customers to,” adds Ms Saha.
“Even today, we still slice and pickle the onions by hand, knead and roll each paratha, grill all of the fillings and hand blend the chutney used in each roll. Our quality has never changed and our taste is still considered to be the closest version to the actual rolls in my hometown of Kolkata.”
When Ms Saha first started The Kati Roll Company in 2002, not only was she introducing kati rolls to the New York market, she was also reinventing the concept of Indian food in a new and portable format, something which had never been done before in the US. As her establishment grew, so did the popularity of kati rolls and today, the fare is an expected option on the menus of most Indian restaurants.

The success of The Kati Roll Company extends beyond just the taste of the rolls. The company is also considered to be the first successful crossover brand within the restaurant industry. With its distinctive orange color, rustic font logo, brown bag packaging and a nod to the kitsch of Bollywood that plasters the original city of Kolkata, The Kati Roll Company is immediately recognizable from a distance.
More so, the brand has incorporated customized music into its locations which features Bollywood, Top 40 as well as well-known (and sometimes unsigned) South Asian artists. This unique playlist will soon be featured on the company’s website which is currently undergoing a redesign, so that customers will be able to tune into The Kati Roll Company experience any time they want.
As the eatery marks its 10-year anniversary in June 2012, The Kati Roll Company is introducing a line of their signature spice blends that will be available for retail purchase at all of its locations as well as fine food stores in New York City. The spice blends will include such varieties as meat and vegetable marinades and masalas to sprinkle on top of prepared foods.
Furthermore, Ms Saha encourages internal loyalty amongst her workers through an innovative reward program that helps fund their education and entrepreneurial efforts. Ms Saha sets aside 5 cents of each purchased roll and uses that money to educate her workers, many of whom are unskilled immigrants.
For example, one of her employees, a recent arrival from Bangladesh, is trying to complete his undergraduate degree. For each dollar he pays for tuition, Ms Saha matches it with one from the fund. She also encourages entrepreneurial efforts from her employees by matching their investment dollars, offering the services of her team (bankers, legal counsel or accountants) and possible TKRC contracts if the proposed business is one that her restaurants would use.
Ms Saha does not look at her employees as workers, but as part of her extended family. Her employees reciprocate that respect by working diligently and being vested in the brand. Hence, Ms Saha maintains a 60% staff retention rate with many of them with her since the early days of The Kati Roll Company.
Ms Saha’s progressive entrepreneurial path has made her a role model to all idea-makers out there. She shows us that a young woman with a concept is a powerful thing, and her history is testament to the fact that hard work and clear vision brings success to any good business idea.
As The Kati Roll Company is named one of the fastest growing Asian-American business, Ms Saha celebrates her 10-years in business in the same fashion in which she started, “Treat your customers and employees with respect and never compromise on quality.”

India Post News Service

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