LEWISTON – They’d looked here in 2001, at this same spot on Lisbon Street, and passed, opening a restaurant instead at a former Indian eatery in Bangor.

Since then the partners and their families have grown, said Rakesh Kumar, and when they looked to open a second restaurant, the area beckoned again. He, Ginni Singh and Uma Kant opened Mother India last Friday.

On Saturday, they had a line trailing out the door, Singh said. Just the response they were hoping for.

“Destiny brings us back,” Kumar said. “There was no Indian restaurant (locally); we had to grab that opportunity.”

The spot at 114 Lisbon St., which used to hold Cleopatra’s and Manic Designs before that, has been renovated with a new bathroom, carpet, paint and arched wall.

They’ve hung crystal chandeliers from the ceiling. Some artwork from India is still on the way.

The restaurant has seating for 45 and will be open seven days a week. Kumar said they like being close to the courthouse, Bates College, the hospitals and lots of office buildings within walking distance.

This menu is largely the same as Bangor’s Taste of India except that they’ve added fish and hallal lamb in a nod to the Muslim population.

Some have the idea that Indian food is quite hot or spicy, Singh said. It doesn’t have to be. Customers can use a spicy scale of 1 to 10 and first-time diners can start at 1, he said. “Medium is good to handle. It’s not killing you, it’s not flat or boring.”

For the Indian beginner, he and Kumar recommended dishes like samosa, deep fried shredded potato turnovers, garlic or Punjabi nan, spicy fresh bread, and chicken mango. The menu, with most meals between $7.95 and $13.95, is heavy with vegetarian offerings.

The food is mostly steam-cooked and takeout is available.

Kumar, who will split his time between Bangor and Lewiston, said Lewiston represented a bigger city and bigger market to break into.

“We take a chance,” he said.

“So far,” Singh added, “we are happy.”


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