Co-owner Hasnain Zaidi confirmed the closure. A note posted in the restaurant's windows on Monday called the closure a "huge bummer," expressing gratitude for customers' support over the years.
"We continued to be really excited about Palo Alto but frankly, the lease was up and with where the retail and rental situation is in the Bay Area, it was really hard to actually get to a point where it made sense to sign up for more," Zaidi said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Tava Kitchen co-owner Hasnain Zaidi makes fresh roti at the Palo Alto restaurant in 2013. Photo by Michelle Le.
Town & Country Village was looking to raise Tava Kitchen's rent, Zaidi said, and they eventually made the hard decision to close. The increase would have brought their Palo Alto rent in line with what they pay for their San Francisco and Alameda locations, he said.
The small size of the space (860 square feet) was also becoming "tricky" for the growing restaurant, Zaidi said. It's tucked in the back of the shopping center, next to the relatively new Belcampo Meat Co.
Before closing, the owners worked to help employees find employment elsewhere, including at two other Tava Kitchen locations in San Francisco and Alameda, which will remain open, or other local restaurants, Zaidi said.
Zaidi opened Tava Kitchen (then called Tava Indian Kitchen) in February of 2012 with two college friends — "three friends with a simple dream of building a place that served delicious food," the note posted in the window reads. They served Indian-style burritos, rice and salad bowls made with grass-fed meats and house-ground spices, among other quality ingredients, from behind a glass counter.
Last March, the restaurant rebranded itself as "Tava Kitchen" with a new menu.
A press release on the relaunch also announced a plan to open 12 more restaurants by 2018. They've since tapered that goal, Zaidi said, though they plan to open a Tava Kitchen in Colorado this spring.
"Given the significant headwinds and challenges facing restaurants these days we plan to grow more deliberately and a little more slowly than our initial projections — now as much as ever restauranteurs need to be thoughtful about every location they open," he said.
Zaidi said he and his co-owners are grateful for the chance Town & Country gave them when they first started and "dearly value" the ownership.
"There's a lot of sentimental value, but ultimately from a business standpoint, it just didn't make sense to try to push for longer," he said.
He's hopeful, however, that Tava Kitchen will return to Palo Alto at some point in the future.
"I still love Palo Alto," he said. "I hope at some point down the line it makes sense for us to get another store here. This community means a lot to us and I think they really like what we have to offer."