-Courtesy of Aversa PR
Restaurateur Shafi Gaffar announces the grand opening of three new restaurants that will bring his brand of homestyle Indian to each corner of the city. Kurry Shack will expand across Philadelphia with new locations opening on Friday, August 27th in Old City (6 N. 3rd Street), Rittenhouse (2101 Chestnut Street) and Francisville (1839 Poplar Street). All three locations will offer pick-up, take-out, delivery and dine-in. The Brewerytown location has the largest dining room and outdoor seating footprint, with seating for up to 60 guests at one time. The original proof of concept location at 2015 E. Moyamensing Avenue is also now fully opened with expanded hours, indoor and outdoor dining, take-out and delivery.
For the weekend-long celebration, all NEW locations will offer a free mango lassi and free appetizer (mix pakoras or samosa) per party for the entire weekend Friday to Sunday for dine-in or take-out (not delivery). This is Gaffar’s way to say thanks and get to know each of the brand’s new neighborhoods. Starting hours for all locations as of this weekend will be Tuesday to Sunday, 11:30am to 9:30pm. Orders stop fifteen minutes before the kitchen closes.
Delivery and advance ordering are currently available through the Kurryshack.com website. The restaurant has a full team of delivery drivers for fast, hot and efficient service for a coverage area for all four properties that spans from North Philly all the way to South Philly, from Schuylkill River to Schuylkill River, and into University City. Kurry Shack is also available for delivery on all major delivery outlets, including Uber Eats, Grub Hub, Caviar and Door Dash. Stay tuned for delivery offers and special programs through the fall and winter. For more information and to order, visit Kurryshack.com or call each location’s phone number.
As of Friday, Kurry Shack will celebrate four brick and mortar locations in business – and Gaffar is currently in the process of opening two additional locations – with more on the way.
HOMESTYLE FAST CASUAL INDIAN COOKING
“Ever since I did Tanoor and Makhani, I wanted to open my own version of a fast casual neighborhood Indian restaurant,” said Gaffar. “I wanted to do it on my own and on my own terms – with a menu I picked with Chef – in a colorful and hip dining room, with traditional dishes and some unique dishes you can’t get anywhere else. Kurry Shack is come-as-you-are and designed with the neighborhood in mind. Everyone is welcome and we hope each is a home away from home to our patrons throughout the city.”
Kurry Shack specializes in what Gaffar calls homestyle Indian cuisine – which is based on North Indian cuisine, cooking style and recipes. Along with standard dishes, look for some unique selections that are a twist on the tradition, as well as a selection of desserts, beverages and other special items.
For the menu, Gaffar also realized the growing demand for gluten free and vegan items – as well as more vegetable items in general. All appetizers and entrees can be made gluten free except for the bread selection. The menu has a full list and outlines Vegan and Gluten Free dishes, to make it easy for diners. “Gluten free and vegan diners are not an after-thought,” said Gaffar. “From the opening of our doors, we have special dishes made to cater to their palate. These days its not enough to adapt some dishes – creating tasty and hearty gluten free and vegan dishes is something a restaurant needs to do right out of the gate.”
For the price point, all menu items are priced to be affordable for each neighborhood with the goal to be affordable so neighbors and diners come visit once, twice and three times a week. “The market has so much room for growth – as long as you have a great product and make things affordable,” he added. “I don’t want to be a once a month restaurant option. I opened in four different neighborhoods where neighbors, young families, students and workers can enjoy our cooking multiple days a week. We aim to keep prices affordable and our quality high, so we see repeat customers for lunch and dinner each and every week.”
Kurry Shack brings its signature and traditional favorite dishes and beverages to the four corners of Philadelphia – with a selection of standard items you can get at any location. Additionally, each location features some unique menu items that are special for that neighborhood. The interiors and layouts are also all different, and cater to the neighborhood. For menu and location differences, see below for a big picture overview.
All four locations feature innovative self-ordering kiosks that are a first for any neighborhood Indian restaurant in the Philadelphia region. These were installed and designed before the pandemic, but the pandemic also made their importance even more relevant as it streamlined the ordering system for the protection of patrons and staff.
For kitchen and cooking, the kitchen team in each location begins each day with extensive preparations for the sauces served – some taking hours and hours to cook and simmer. All four locations feature special equipment installed including a Tandoori Clay Oven – along with all new kitchen equipment.
” Aside from taste, the biggest factors that can set you apart when you’re serving ethnic based food is freshness, quality of service, and convenience of delivery,” said Gaffar. “There are many great Indian restaurants in Philadelphia, but we wanted to excel not just in taste, but customer satisfaction when it comes to delivery time, ease of access, and consistency. Having multiple locations helps each location to provide the highest level of service to smaller numbers of neighborhoods and communities. That is why it was important to bring a location to neighborhoods around the city.”
Kurry Shack – South Philadelphia (original location)
The Original Location
2015 E Moyamensing Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19148
Kurry Shack opened its first location in late 2019 just before the pandemic. The location was the former home of numerous food concepts, most notably the home of Buttercream the first cupcake food truck. For this location, Gaffar renovated the dining room, including the installation of working with local artists on a full chalk mural wall of the Taj Mahal, painting and stenciling, installation of the front prep area and dark, rich wood counter, testing and development for the self-ordering kiosks, and other improvements.
“I wanted to create a hip, colorful and welcoming vibe for our neighbors,” said Gaffar. “I want everyone to feel welcome – no matter if you are stopping by on your way from the office to your home, or if you are casual and around the corner and want to come as you are, or I wanted to have an attractive look that also was appropriate for special events and neighborhood events/ parties. It has a very different look and feel than my past restaurants – and I hope everyone will feel welcome and check us out!”
This location has indoor seating for up to 18 people, or it can be cleared for a standing room only event for 30-40 people. Outside, in nice weather, look for seating for up to 12 people on the front cafe sidewalk. From the kitchen look for Chef’s specialty dishes, including Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Vindaloo, Dal Makhani and Mali Kofta. Unique to Kurry Shack, look for an exclusive dish, Chicken Meatball Kofta Curry – as well as a selection of desserts that includes Indian ice creams and milkshakes, with flavors such as Mango, Chikoo, Mali-Kulfi and Kesar Pesta.
Kurry Shack – Francisville
1839 Poplar Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
For Francisville, Kurry Shack offers the largest and most expensive footprint for indoor and outdoor dining in the former home of Gin and Pop. This unique corner location has a warm-welcome neighborhood vibe with warm tones, reclaimed food, a full length bar, and ample room for sidewalk seating. Inside, look for around 20 seats and outside look for around 40 seats on nice weather days. While this location is a BYO as well, the location has a permanent bar as its centerpiece where there is a full draft system pouring Inspired Brews kombucha. Also, to creatively use the bar space, and cater to a very family oriented area, the bar will serve a selection of fun mocktails alongside more traditional Indian drinks. The food menu also features this location’s signature dishes, Lamb chops and Lamb Shanks.
Kurry Shack – Old City
6 N. 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
In Old City, Gaffar moved his operations across N. 3rd Street and changed Makhani into Kurry Shack to better be in alignment with the neighborhood needs and for pandemic safety. This location is the former home of the original location for Gianfranco Pizza Rustica, which recently moved and relocated next door. This location will specialize in delivery for Old City, Society Hill, Spring Arts, Northern Liberties and Fishtown – and surrounding neighborhoods. This location will focus on delivery, take-out and pick-up, with a counter and stools for around six to eight guests. The open kitchen lets customers see the Chef preparing food while they wait.
For featured items and secret menu items specific to Old City, Gaffar wanted to pay homage to Makhani (which he hopes will return some day after the pandemic). He also wanted to be responsive to his Makhani regulars that fell in love with his special dishes, including the mango-featured selections that were inspired by his childhood days on a mango farm with his grandparents. Dishes here that are special include the Mango Chicken as well as the Philadelphia Magazine Best of Philly Award-winning Mango Cheesecake – plus other specials and dishes from that menu.
When asked why feature some of the award-winning items from Makhani, Gaffar replied, “We have tried to be attentive and be sure to cater to the specific needs of each neighborhood. The Old City patrons had a lot of favorite dishes at Makhani that couldn’t be found at any other restaurants in the city, and in some cases, the country. We want to be able to provide those favorites in our new Kurry Shack, but with quicker and more affordable service.”
Kurry Shack – Rittenhouse
2101 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
For Center City, Kurry Shack will debut this weekend in the former home of Star of David deli – located just blocks from Rittenhouse Square, the Comcast Center, Benjamin Franklin Parkway and other attractions and area businesses. This location is designed with take-out, pick-up and delivery in mind with a larger kitchen but smaller front end. There are stools and a small counter for four to six people to dine-in, with tables outside on nice days for up to four guests. This location will specialize and focus by day on lunch service for area workers and those working from home. At night, this location will focus on fresh and fast dinner for Rittenhouse and Center City residents, plus cater to area hotels.
Also unique to Center City, look for special lunch options for under $10 only available there for these times to support the returning office workers coming back to the city.
ABOUT THE OWNER
With this week’s openings, Gaffar will own and operate four Kurry Shack locations including the original. He formerly owned fine-dining and chef-led Makhani in Old City and he was a partner in one of Philadelphia’s oldest Indian restaurants – Tandoor.
Gaffar, 32, was born in Bangladesh and moved to Philadelphia before he was five years old. He currently lives in Northern Liberties with his wife. During his childhood and teen years, he grew up working in several restaurants that his family owned since the early 2000s.
After studying business and finance management at Temple University, he left the family business and worked at NY Ice Cream Inc, which owned and operated over 7 different food franchises at the time in New York and Philadelphia. As VP of Operations, he was overseeing 8+ million in annual sales at the age of 22. He eventually left the company to get back into the restaurant business and bought the Tandoor India brand from a family friend in 2013. Based in University City, 24 year-old Gaffar revamped and restructured Tandoor, completely rebranding it and preparing it for expansion. He reconnected with Banik and brought him on as Executive Chef, overseeing the expansion into additional markets such as Collegeville, Fishtown, and then South Philadelphia.
After several years of successful operation under Tandoor with his partners, Gaffar decided to create a new brand and bring Indian food into the modern age with Makhani Modern Indian. After opening this fine-dining BYO in Old City, Gaffar went on in 2019 to then open the counterpoint to Makhani in Kurry Shack – with one specializing in Modern Indian Cuisine and the other specializing in more traditional and homestyle North Indian cuisine. Kurry Shack was also designed as a model that Gaffar is using to explore future concepts and expansion. During the pandemic, Gaffar moved operations from Makhani across 3rd Street in a new location – and he then changed the concept to be in line with the Kurry Shack brand.
Gaffar is currently exploring opening more Kurry Shack locations – including in South Jersey, the Main Line and the Philadelphia suburbs. After the new locations are opened and off the ground, Gaffar will also begin the long-term multi-year process of exploring franchising of the restaurant concept. For now, Gaffar is looking at additional properties while he gets to know his three new neighborhoods. Currently, two more locations are about to sign leases and begin renovations. Stay tuned for what is next for Gaffar and Kurry Shack.