Tarka Indian Kitchen, the authentic fast-casual Indian restaurant, is teaming up with another Austin-based company – ATX Specialty Foods – to outsource its sauces, setting the brand up to begin rapid expansion efforts.
ATX Specialty Foods is now producing several of Tarka’s sauces – Tikka Masala, Korma, Onion Sauce, Biryani – which were formerly homemade at each location. Given the success of the partnership, the company is now working on several others, including Tarka Daal, a yellow lentil dish, Coconut Curry, Saag, a pureed Spinach sauce, as well as Tarka’s popular Mint-Tamarind-Yogurt Chutney. With curries accounting for 60 percent of Tarka’s sales, outsourcing sauces will enable the brand to quickly and efficiently reach wider audiences.
“Our team at Tarka Indian Kitchen takes pride in the fact that we create fresh, flavorful Indian food that’s fast and affordable,” says Tarka CEO Tinku Saini. “We wanted to bring the same sounds and smells we experienced in our homes growing up to the guests who visit our restaurants. The ATX Specialty Food team spent a lot of time in Tarka restaurants learning about our brand and recipes. After about three months, we knew we found the right partner who understands the importance of the curries, spices, cooking procedures, flavors and the overall experience that goes into Indian cuisine.”
Tarka plans to open dozens of stores in the next five years and is currently working on new models to capitalize on industry trends, such as delivery- and takeout-only options in high traffic urban areas, stores with a smaller footprint, ghost kitchens and complimentary virtual brands. Outsourcing sauces will also pave the way for franchising the concept.
“We partner with restaurants to help them outsource their sauces, lower labor and focus on the revenue-generating side of the business,” adds John Anderson, CEO and founder of ATX Specialty Foods. “Anything we can do to help them scale their business is a mutually beneficial relationship. For a brand like Tarka, where the sauces are what make them inherently unique, it was important that we helped them protect their recipes and create consistency as they expand. Because of the complexity of the sauces, we didn’t just replicate them. We had to work on them one at a time. It’s been a progressive and very rewarding partnership already.”
“Our challenge, like many emerging, cultural concepts, was finding a way to mass produce our homemade sauces and maintain the same authenticity and consistency as we continue to grow,” Saini says. “Through this partnership, we will be able to serve our delicious, healthy Indian dishes to more of Austin, Houston and San Antonio, as well as expand to Dallas and neighboring states before we go national.”
Recently recognized as one of the “Most Exciting Austin Fast Casuals” by QSR Magazine, Tarka’s menu features Indian classics like curries, kabobs, biryanis and freshly baked flatbreads, along with signature creations like Masala Fries. Tarka also offers numerous vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, like its Beyond Keema Curry, to meet the different dietary needs of its guests. Tarka has a singular focus on the quality and freshness of its ingredients, so everything is made fresh to order. The chicken is fresh, all-natural and hormone-free, and the lamb is fresh, pasture-raised, grass-fed and Halal.