Pandemic’s move to take-out menu helps Indian restaurant in Honolulu stay busy thanks to locals

HONOLULU (KHON2) – The coronavirus pandemic has hit small businesses hard, especially local restaurants, where they have been forced to close their doors and offer only take-out.

Christopher Rahman, co-owner of Cafe Maharani, said when the shutdown first occurred, they were concerned about the impact take-out food had on their business.

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“At first, like all other businesses, we were pretty scared,” Rahman said. “We didn’t know what the future had in store for us.

According to Rahman, they had to create a new website to allow people to order their Indian food online.

“Online has helped a lot,” said Rahman. “We’ve never had this before, so we started doing it online as well as a lot of take out.”

Jocya Arafat, the owner of Café Maharani, said he was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who continued to support their restaurant.

“We really appreciate everyone who has supported us during this time,” Arafat said. “It was really, really helpful for us to stay in business.

Arafat said that during the pandemic, sales increased through word of mouth from local customers, bringing in new people keen to try Indian cuisine.

“Most people when they think of Indian food, what comes to their mind is that it is spicy,” Arafat said. “It’s not spicy, believe me, Indian cuisine is not all spicy.”

Café Maharani is open 7 days a week from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. To order online or to consult their menu Click here.

Arafat said that some of their most popular dishes are naan bread, chicken in butter curry, lamb kebabs and samosas.

He said tasting their food was like being at home and he was happy to have continued to serve customers throughout the pandemic.

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“Try Indian cuisine for the first time, try the flavor you know, put curry or kabab, or naan bread in your mouth and close your eyes,” Arafat said.


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Freeda S. Scott