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Owners Behind Acclaimed NYC Indian Restaurants Shutter Original Masalawala

The team, which also runs Adda, Rahi, and Dhamaka, decided not to renew the restaurant’s lease this month

A restaurant exterior with a graffitied protective gate pulled down and signage removed from the wooden awning
Signage has been removed from Masalawala’s LES location
Bao Ong/Eater NY
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

Restaurateur Roni Mazumdar and chef Chintan Pandya — the hitmaking duo behind Adda, Rahi, and Dhamaka — have decided to permanently shut down the original Lower East Side location of Indian street food spot the Masalawala, bringing an “emotional” end to the first restaurant that Mazumdar opened in NYC, a restaurant spokesperson tells Eater New York.

The Masalawala’s lease expired in April and the team decided not renew it, according to the representative. Instead, Mazumdar and chef and business partner Chintan Pandya are working on opening an upcoming Park Slope location of the Masalawala this fall under the duo’s Unapologetic Foods restaurant group. It will be “very different” from its predecessors, Mazumdar told Eater New York in an email in mid-April. They also plan to apply for a full liquor license at the Brooklyn location.

Multicolored rice with lamb and yogurt sauce.
A biryani with lamb and yogurt sauce at Masalawala
Robert Sietsema/Eater

On the Lower East Side, the original Masalawala — located at 179 Essex Street, near East Houston Street — first opened in 2011 and maintained a menu of well-executed curries, biryanis, and other street snacks throughout its 10-year run. In a visit last year during the pandemic, Eater senior critic Robert Sietsema noted that the food at this location was “very good, despite the restaurant’s continued under-the-radar profile.”

For regulars, Mazumdar’s father, Satyen Mazumdar, was a welcome fixture as both a host and manager at the Lower East Side outpost. Mazumdar’s father remains involved and the company and will always be the “ambassador for the group,” according to the press representative. The Masalawala also includes an outpost in Long Island City.

For now, Mazumdar and Pandya are juggling the next Masalawala opening while focusing on the successful debut of Dhamaka, their other Lower East Side restaurant that opened inside the new Essex Market earlier this year and has since garnered rave reviews.