Katmandu Baazar to bring expanded grocery, Nepali fast food, to Heights

Last modified: 10/7/2013 4:22:24 PM
Like the red, white and green stripes of the Papa Gino’s pizza shop across the parking lot, the silhouette of Mount Everest and the eyes of Buddha on the sign of Katmandu Baazar will tell volumes about can be found within.

Through the pictures, the sign will say without words that within, there are spices, saris and statues of Hindu gods and goddesses – all the flavors and traditions of the lands that surround the famous peak.

Katmandu Baazar is on track to open in early November in the Lamplighter Plaza on Loudon Road.

The store is an expansion of the Katmandu Snack Shop, which Karma Gonpo, a native of Tibet, opened in 2010, also on Loudon Road.

In the past year, demand for traditional food, cooking equipment, clothing and other supplies has grown so quickly that the original store doesn’t have enough room, he said.

“More and more people have been coming and making requests” for specific items they miss from their homelands, he said. “I have always been thinking of another store, a bigger store.”

Originally, Katmandu Snack Shop featured only items from Nepal and Bhutan, which Gonpo drove to New York to buy in bulk.

Katmandu Baazar will sell both Asian and African groceries, as Gonpo and his partners try to accommodate the many backgrounds of refugees who have resettled in Concord in recent years.

Since 2002, nearly 1,350 refugees from around the world have resettled in Concord, the majority in recent years from Bhutan via Nepal, but also from Burundi, Congo and Somalia.

At diversity festivals throughout the city, Gonpo and his friends have set up tables serving their food, especially traditional dumplings called momo.

As they’ve gone around to taste the offerings of other people, they’ve been surprised to find familiar flavors in the foreign food.

“It’s like, there are the same spices, and you taste it and ask, ‘Wait, what is in this?’ You find it is the same vegetables, the same spices,” said Kiran KC, Gonpo’s friend, a business graduate student who has served as an adviser for both shops.

When the expanded store is open next month, it will feature a mall hot food bar with seating for between six and eight people, they said.

In addition to building the diner counter, one of the first things Gonpo did was have the walls painted blue and yellow, the colors of the flag of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, which he and his family follow.

Blue represents the sky and yellow the ground. Together, they represent everything.

The store represents the achievement of a longtime goal for Gonpo: a successful, growing business that also acts as a gathering place and cultural oasis for his community.

“I don’t think the young people are turning away too much from their culture,” he said. “They will continue to come together, and this will be a part of it, too. So many people can come here because we found the perfect location.”

He hopes to be open in time for celebrating the festival of Diwali, which begins Nov. 3.

For now, metal shelving units are stacked in the inventory room, and the kitchen area doesn’t yet have a stove, or a hood, or a sink.

All that will come. Then the shelves will be built and filled with rice flour and corn meal and okra and spices. Necklaces will hang on display, clothing will be folded and stacked.

And the sign, featuring the silhouette of a faraway mountain and the eyes of the faraway Buddha, will be hung above the front door, watching over Loudon Road.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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