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Davis, California

Wednesday, July 24, 2024

The Man Behind the Smile

We’ve all seen his smiling face on advertisements, been to his restaurant and received hugs from him; now we get to take a deeper look into his story.

Taranbir S. Chowdhury is the owner of Raja’s Tandoor, an Indian restaurant in Downtown Davis, locatedright off campus on 3rd Street. He was born in the state of Punjab, India, and lived there for around 30 years before moving to California.

Before entering the restaurant business, Taranbir lived in Santa Clara and worked for an electronics company. When he got laid off in 1985 because of an industry recession, he moved up to Davis and worked for a medical company for a little over nine years.

After that job, he decided to open the restaurant with his family in order to help out students and pursue something that he loves.

“I like food service and I am in a student town, so I can see it’s very hard for students to afford regular meals,” he explains. “So I thought I should open a restaurant — an Indian restaurant, of course — and give them a good price and healthy food.”

Taranbir and his entire family like to cook and eat, so owning and operating a restaurant is a good family business for them to end up in. While he runs things and takes care of business inside the restaurant, his son is in charge of marketing and the booth at the Farmers Market, and his wife and daughter help out in the evenings and on weekends.

He alone works around 12 to 13 hours per day — over 60 hours a week — making sure that the food and the service are of highest quality. He lives in Natomas, so he commutes every morning and night. Most mornings a week, he stops at grocery suppliers in Sacramento to pick up fresh ingredients for the day.

On the surface is his welcoming and loving demeanor. He greets each customer with a warm smile and friendly “Hi, how are you doing?” and sometimes even a hug, and he is apt to remember faces of regular customers. “Our motto is, as soon as somebody walks in, they should feel like they are in a very comfort[able] restaurant where they have their own importance. We want to respect them and give them a very respectful welcome,” he articulates.

Raja’s Tandoor has already been in business for ten years, and hopefully we will be seeing Taranbir’s endearing countenance when we walk through the door for many years to come. If his words are any indication, we don’t have anything to worry about:

“I love to serve students. I treat them as my children — as part of my family — and I’d like to maintain the prices as is. If students are here, I’m here. This is for the students because they have a lot of expenses at school, and I want to maintain these prices as long as I can. Not only that, they can feel at home and like it is a very welcome place here; a very warm place. And that’s our family goal.”

 To see Taranbir in action, pay a visit to Raja’s, or watch this.



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