Himalayan Indian Cuisine aims to increase business at new location

Sajan Baniya, left, and Bhakta Khayat own Himalayan Indian Cuisine, which will relocate from Exit 17 to 541 W. Jackson in Spearfish in late 2021/early 2022. Pioneer photo by Kimberly Talcott

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SPEARFISH — The owners of Himalayan Indian Cuisine plan to move their restaurant to a new location in Spearfish in late December or early January. Co-owner Sajan Baniya said the restaurant will relocate from the Exit 17 Elkhorn Ridge Travel Center to the space previously occupied by Good Day Café at 541 W. Jackson Blvd.

“We have been in business at this location for two years, but still many people do not know about our food because we are far from town,” said Baniya, who owns Himalayan Indian Cuisine with his friend, Bhakta Khayat.

With the proximity to the Black Hills State, Baniya hopes to see increased business from college students at the new location.

Himalayan Indian Cuisine opened two years ago, during the beginning of the pandemic. Less in-person dining because of the pandemic means the restaurant does not need as much interior space, said Baniya.

“Our restaurant dining room is not as busy as we expected. We receive many takeout orders. The new building is smaller, but customers will still be able to dine in or sit outside in the summer,” said Baniya.  

Other than installation of an outdoor walk-in cooler, Baniya does not expect to make significant changes to the Good Earth Café space.

Himalayan Indian Cuisine serves authentic Indian and Nepalese food. Baniya said around 80 percent of the orders the restaurant receives are for the restaurant’s popular butter chicken, a dish of boneless tandoori chicken thigh meat cooked with onion, tomato and curry pieces in a rich, thick butter sauce, or chicken tikka masala, a dish of charcoal roasted boneless chicken meat cooked in creamy tomato sauce with Himalayan herbs. The restaurant also sells beer, including Taj Mahal Indian beer.

Baniya’s favorite dish on the menu is chicken kadai, strips of chicken marinated in fresh homemade spices and sauteed with tomato, onion and green bell peppers. He said it reminds him of his mother’s cooking.

“I am from Nepal, and the Nepalese do not like very sweet food. Chicken kadai has no dairy. It has traditional Nepali flavors,” said Baniya.

Baniya worked his way up in the restaurant business, first washing dishes, then working with his cousin who owns Himalayan Kitchen in Rapid City. After opening his own restaurant in Keystone, Baniya said he decided to try business in Spearfish after visiting Spearfish Canyon. He also has ownership in Sherpa Indian Kitchen in Gillette.

“We want to stay here in Spearfish,” said Baniya. “We hope more people will try our food. Customers say the taste is great, you do not want to miss it.”

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