Kaathi’s, a delivery-only restaurant that makes Kolkata-style Indian kati rolls, is opening a brick-and-mortar location today in Lincoln Park. The owners hope to draw DePaul University students, late-night customers exiting bars on Lincoln and Halsted, and diners wanting a traditional taste of Indian street food. Kaathi’s replaces Nighthawk: AM, the breakfast-centric sandwich and coffee shop that opened in 2017 from LA restaurateur Jeremy Fall’s J. Fall Group.
Nighthawk closed in February allowing Kaathi’s owners Aditya Burman and Sandhya Nagubadi to quickly take over the space at 2273 N. Lincoln Avenue. They’ve replaced Nightwood’s floor tile, made of vintage breakfast cereal boxes and went with a more neutral color. Burman takes a simple approach to kati rolls. One of the shortcomings of kati rolls in America is that they stuff the parathas with too many ingredients, Burman said. This turns them more into wraps or burritos. Kaathi’s formula is simple: cilantro, onions, and veggies, meat, or cheese.
“To me, a kati roll is comfort food, it’s what I grew up on, it’s a way to an insight into the craziness that Indian can be,” Burman said.
The company has catered inthe surrounding Chicago and the suburbs. Burman plays cricket, and that’s how he knows business partner Chirag Patel. It’s a dream for Burman and Nagubadi to open a restaurant. There’s a small kitchen inside the fast-casual space. It’s a small menu with seven rolls: chicken tikka, chili chicken, beef, pepper lamb, chatpat gobi (cauliflower), paneer, makhani, and poblano masala. They’re using Kewan brand parathas.
“The poblano isn’t something I would do in India,” Burman said. “But it’s a vegetable that has a lot of flavor in it.”
The rolls are also available as a gluten-free bowls. Burman said he plans on to later add items. Vegan and vegetarians also have options like they naturally do at many Indian restaurants. Eventually he also wants to add chais. They already have a mango shake.
“It’s not a chai latte,” Burman said as he pointed toward the neighboring Starbucks. “It’s actually going to be the chai that we drink back home”
Burman arrived in American in 1997 and has seen America’s understanding for Indian food increase. Other kati roll spots, like Bombay Wraps and Hakka Bakka, have helped. The common diner now knows that Indian food is spicy, but it’s not all about heat. He’s had meaningful conversation with passersby who share their insights on Indian food, and that makes him feel that his restaurant will be successful and that he would be able to open other locations.
Diners can check out Kaathi’s starting at 10:30 a.m. today.
Kaathi’s, 2273 N. Lincoln Avenue, (773) 770-3425, open 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday; 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.