By day, her staff prepares heat-and-serve meals sold at Savi Provisions markets around town, and whatever catering orders Becker can muster. Then, starting at 4 p.m., customers can pick up online orders at the back door.
For a time, this streamlined model did OK. But, when restaurants began to reopen in the summer, business plummeted. That’s when the always entrepreneurial Becker, 47, got creative.
She introduced Tandoori Pizza & Wing Co., which features handcrafted, Indian-Italian fusion pizza on naan bread, and uses the same ghost kitchen and online ordering platform as Bhojanic. Meanwhile, Bhojanic is adding a market, scheduled to open by the end of January, that will double as a retail store and pickup station.
Archna Becker is the chef and owner of Bhojanic and the new Tandoori Pizza & Wing Co. Courtesy of Archna Becker
Becker considers the neighborhood — wedged between Piedmont and Cheshire Bridge roads, and home to a growing cluster of upscale residences — an emerging food district. She’s across the street from the Buttery, Atlanta chef Linton Hopkins’ new retail shop, and around the corner from Yumbii’s home base, where the Queso Truck is parked while the to-go-only Queso Shop is readied.
It may not be what Becker envisioned a year ago, but the centralized kitchen has been a way to keep her core staff employed, and safe.
Born in India, Becker moved to the U.S. at age 11, and has been immersed in restaurants since 14. After working everywhere from the Po‘ Folks chain to upscale Pricci, she persuaded her parents to open the family’s first restaurant, Rasoi: the Indian Kitchen, after she finished college.
The Indian community loved the family’s cooking, and would ask them to make this or that dish for a party. “Finally, I’m like, ‘You gotta start charging,’” Becker recalled. Rasoi (1994-96) arrived on Lawrenceville Highway just in time for the Atlanta Olympics. The original Bhojanic opened on Clairmont Road in 2003; it closed after the arrival of the Buckhead location, in 2013.
Up until the pandemic, Becker’s dad, Surender Malhotra, 76, was involved in Bhojanic’s catering. Her mom, dad and 90-year-old grandmother live in Decatur, and their health has been a concern throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
Becker, who serves on the board of the National Restaurant Association, joked that she’s gotten busier since the pandemic. She’s working on a book and consulting on a restaurant for the new Holiday Inn & Suites in Chamblee.
Always looking for ways to grow, the chef thinks her pizza and wing concept could have franchise potential. After trying it out, I think she’s right.
I’m not sure naan pizza is going to reorder Atlanta’s pizza hierarchy, but the classic tandoori chicken pizza (spinach pesto, mozzarella, red onion, cilantro, mango-chili drizzle and bite-size pieces of spicy, red-edged bird) is pretty darn tasty, and even better the next day.
And, I’ll put the 48-hour-marinated wings with mango-chili sauce and masala fries in regular rotation. The chunky potato wedges are battered, crunchy and perfect for dipping.
Finally, I never can leave an Indian spot without sampling the biriyani, and Bhojanic’s chicken version was extraordinary.
Thanks to the pandemic, Atlanta is awash with restaurants trying the ghost-kitchen model. Not surprisingly, Becker sets a stellar example.
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BHOJANIC AND TANDOORI PIZZA & WING CO.
Menu: Indian, pizza and wings
What I ordered: tandoori wings, biryani bowl, classic tandoori chicken pizza, masala fries
Service options: takeout; delivery via Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grubhub, Zifty and ChowNow
Mask policy: mandatory for staff; optional for customers, who are not allowed inside
Address, phone: 739 Lambert Drive NE, Atlanta; 404-841-8472
Hours: 4-9 p.m. daily
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