Indian Aroma opens up on the edge of Woodbury
A number of officers from the Oakdale Police Department frequently visited a gas station owned by Dave Virk.
When they asked him what kind of dishes are popular in his native country of India, he said, "All right, one day I'm making food for you guys and you should come," he said.
And when he put out a little buffet for them to try, they suggested he' open up an Indian restaurant.
"He was licking his fingers and said 'that's delicious food,'" Virk said of one of the detectives.
So for the last few months, Virk has been running "Indian Aroma," a restaurant located on Century Avenue on the border of Woodbury and Maplewood.
Indian Aroma replaced what was called "India Gate," which was another Indian restaurant that went out of business.
It took an entire month to get it cleaned up and ready for cooking, Virk said. He's still working on upgrading the exterior of the building as well.
The former restaurant didn't have a strong reputation, Virk said, and the outside wasn't very inviting.
People were afraid to come in to try the new food, he added.
"In one week, I didn't even get a single customer," Virk said. "My one customer was the postman."
After reassuring the mailman that the food was clean, tasty and safe, he ended up trying the lunch buffet, he said.
Then he told a friend who works at a local business, who then mentioned Indian Aroma to other colleagues. The word spread and patrons began trying the lunch buffet and dinner menu.
"It became a chain," Virk said.
With its close proximity to 3M, the restaurant has had frequent customers from the company, he said.
Additionally, the large space at Indian Aroma, which seats about 150, accommodates for private wedding receptions, parties and large dinners.
The restaurant is decked out with Indian textiles that were brought from India by Virk's wife, Dolly, who helped decorate the space with colorful scarves hanging from the ceiling and tabletop accessories.
"We don't have the big budget for the statues and things, but we have the food," he said. "And the food will not disappoint."
Indian Aroma serves a lunch buffet of northern as well as southern Indian dishes made with authentic spices.
Some of the dishes include tandoori chicken, chicken biryani, chicken tikka masala, and lamb curry.
The restaurant is also open for dinner until 10 p.m.