WOOSTER – A building at Beall Avenue and North Street has seen eateries come and go.
Everything — from yogurt to pizza, gourmet hot dogs and soups — has been served there.
Most recently, Biscuit Uprising was housed in the shop at 206 Beall Ave., which has stood empty since 2019 when that business shuttered its doors for good.
Nearly two years later in mid December, a Wooster-area couple signed a lease to jump start their new restaurant — The Curry Pot.
For married couple Tania Bayer and Renoy Barua, this is a giving-up-the-job dream come true nearly one decade early, Bayer said.
“This was originally a retirement project,” Bayer said. “We had a five- to 10-year game plan.”
A combination of community support and cooking gigs expedited that plan.
Barua started cooking at Local Roots on Fridays and Saturdays and at the College of Wooster for two days during the week, giving them the necessary funds to turn Biscuit Uprising into The Curry Pot.
Now, if all goes to plan, the couple will begin dishing up curbside and delivery orders come early April.
From casual cook to full-time chef
When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, Bayer worked remotely from the couple’s home in Wooster while their kids learned via Zoom, she said. Unlike his family, Barua continued to leave the house for work.
By early summer, local daycares were closed, leaving Bayer to work at home with two energetic kids. That’s when Barua took a long vacation.
“He really stepped up to help out,” Bayer said.
During this holiday from work, Barua took care of the house and their two daughters. He also began cooking a lot more.
By June, Barua took a job at Local Roots downtown, where he prepared his favorite Indian dishes to bring in some extra money.
Nearly two years later, he now cooks Fridays and Saturdays at Local Roots and keeps a refrigerator of Indian cuisine stocked so people can eat his creations even when he’s not in the kitchen.
Among his most popular dishes is the butter chicken, which he promises will have a spot on The Curry Pot restaurant’s menu.
“Really the main reason we wanted to start the restaurant was because we had so much support from the community, and that really gave us the confidence to do this,” Barua said.
Another factor was his status as a guest chef at the College of Wooster’s Kettredge Dining Hall. Two days a week he cooks for the campus community, he said.
Once he realized his passion for cooking and the demand from the community, he quit his day job and dedicated his time to this culinary pursuit.
With cooking as his full-time job, he spent some evenings in the Local Roots kitchen making grub for the cooler and to-order meals as needed.
Bayer remembers some nights when he would be at work from the early evening hours until nearly 3 a.m. just to restock the cooler.
To keep Barua from spending the entire night in the kitchen, the couple hired a chef, who will hopefully be the first of a full team at The Curry Pot, Bayer said.
Bringing Indian food to Wooster
Barua and Bayer emigrated from India to Wooster. When they arrived, they realized there was limited access to Indian cuisine, they said.
After traveling around the country, they figured this wasn’t always the case, so they drew up tentative retirement plans to open a restaurant.
“We wanted access to Indian food, and so far, everyone is craving it,” Bayer said.
With plans set in stone and a lease in hand, Bayer said, they are renovating the Biscuit Uprising kitchen to accommodate the change in cuisine.
“We need bigger pots for sauces and more space to cook with those bigger pots,” Barua said. “We also would like to get a Tandoor oven.”
Despite delivery lag for some equipment and materials, they hope to get the kitchen running on a temporary basis by the end of March or early April. If all goes well, they will be accepting curbside pickup and delivery orders in one month, Bayer said.
Bayer estimates The Curry Pot will fully open for indoor dining come June.
To follow news about The Curry Pot, visit its Instagram account and the Local Roots website.
Reach Bryce by email at [email protected]
On Twitter: @Bryce_Buyakie