NEWBURYPORT — Restaurant owner Ram Kadariya recently moved his Mr. India Restaurant from nearly under a bridge on Merrimac Street to the top of the hill that joins High and Green streets.
But the really big move that the Nepalese businessman made was in 1996, when he and his wife came to this country to start a new life.
He works close to 12 hours per day, but you will hear no complaints as he enters his 13th year of restaurant operation in this city.
“Our restaurant is doing better in this new location,” said Kadariya, 47. “The other location was in a difficult place, with a bridge and fast traffic with no red light.
“I am very happy to be in the new spot. We have regular customers, and they have been helpful in giving advice and helping us to become better.”
Kadariya, like many immigrants, knows much about change.
Ram got started in America after accompanying his wife, Sujata, to Manchester, N.H., where she was starting a study program focusing on social services.
He had a master’s degree in agriculture and had done research in Scotland. His initial years here were involved in agricultural research through the University of New Hampshire, but grants dried up and he found himself looking for options.
Both Ram and Sujata were experienced cooks. He knew about the spices and recipes from Nepal and she was knowledgeable about cooking Indian dishes.
“She suggested I think about a restaurant,” Ram said. “If we combined our knowledge, we would have a large and attractive menu.
“We did that, and for years we were down on Merrimac Street. But the location was bad, the ceilings were too low and the landlord wouldn’t make improvements. When this site became available, I was excited to make an offer and move.”
One benefit of the new location at 140 High St. is visibility. Hundreds of cars go by each day. In addition, the facility housing the area’s Superior Court is right across the street.
The new venue offers 90 seats, compared to just 42 seats at the former location. With both Indian and Himalayan offerings, signature dishes include tandoori, butter chicken, pulan and biryani rice and Katmando momo (Himalayan dumplings).
The couple lives in Barrington, N.H., and they have a 10-year-old daughter. Sujata has remained primarily in social services (though she sometimes comes in to cook) while Ram has changed professional direction completely when he opened his restaurant.
Though Ram still has relatives still in Nepal, he said coming to America was the right decision.
“In my old country, it was hard to get anything done if you weren’t in the right tribe or if you didn’t know someone of influence,” Ram said. “There is so much corruption over there that intelligence doesn’t count, hard work doesn’t count,
“In America there is opportunity, and hard work can result in success. For me, especially since we moved, this has been a good decision.
“I enjoy the work, and the customers. Many of those who eat here make suggestions and try to be helpful. There are many fine people in this area.”