We doubt anyone has ever accused Nitin Naidu of being indecisive. The Indianapolis resident was in line at a food-truck festival in the fall of 2011 when he and his wife, Mo, struck up a conversation with the person in front of them, Tyler Wald. “Wouldn’t it be great to be in the food-truck business?” they mused. Faster than you can say “should we or shouldn’t we,” the three signed on the dotted line, and Spice Box Indy was born. Three months later, Naidu had quit his day job at J.P. Morgan Chase, and he and Wald were serving Indian food to the 2012 Super Bowl crowds from a truck they purchased on Craigslist. A City Market location followed in September 2013, and this fall, they are adding another Spice Box to the mix when they take over the space at 719 Virginia Avenue. (Previous occupant Rook is moving down the street.) It’s a transition from food truck to brick-and-mortar restaurant dreamed by many, achieved by few.
Spice Box offerings are inspired by Naidu’s native India and the dishes his mother cooked when they moved to Indiana during his childhood. Customer favorites like chicken tandoori tacos and the Bombay box, a mix of spicy rice and grilled chicken topped with an egg, will be on the menu in the new location, along with options the team is tinkering with now, thanks to the possibilities presented by a bigger kitchen.
In a conversation about the expansion from single food truck to multiple restaurant locations, Naidu frequently uses the word “lucky” to describe the journey. But listen closely, and you’ll hear a man laser-focused on the customer experience. “It’s more than just ‘I want to make great food, and that’s it,’” he says. “We want to make sure that we can justify the product with the money they’re spending.”
This article appeared in the October 2015 Issue.