Austin Avenue has served as a cultural hub in recent years as the city of Waco expands and thrives... but it hasn't always been like that.
For Roshan Thakor, owner and general manager of Stone Hearth Indian Cafe, Waco has grown and opened the doors to not only a budding tourism hotspot but to endless opportunities.
Thakor came to Waco with the intent to run a renovated hotel, but his calling to the restaurant business inspired him to plan for something bigger. At the time he began developing his idea, the city wasn't the bustling tourist area it has become.
"I was working at a four-and-a-half-star restaurant before I came here, and I was wanting to go back to what I wanted to do, which was to be a chef, a restaurateur," said Thakor. "I was developing an idea at that time...Indian food was one of the most asked for things in Waco."
After three and a half years of design, development and research, Thakor's dream came to fruition.
Stone Hearth is located at 506 Austin Avenue and neighbors popular coffee shop Dichotomy and opened its doors to the public on June 7. The menu consists of several options, from soups & salads, curry, specialty dishes, and even desserts.
"Being an Indian, being a chef, it's down my alley," said Thakor.
The restaurant's open atmosphere welcomes diners with colorful and ethnic artwork both inside and outside of the building. Tony Bryant, a local artist, painted the murals inside and outside of the building. The restaurant also boasts artwork from Thakor's own wife, Rima Patel.
Haven't tried Indian food yet? Have no fear. For the newcomer to Indian cuisine, the menu offers different entrees with a spice level key to helping make patrons decisions about how spicy or not they want their made-from-scratch food.
Though the store's performance has been "phenomenal" according to Thakor, that isn't the main goal.
"To evoke emotion is the goal," he said.
Not only is Stone Hearth adding its own spice to the downtown Waco scene, but it's filling a gap in the city culture.
"The biggest gap that we notice is that there is nothing east and west of Waco that is culturally, diversely, there," said Thakor. "That's one thing we wanted to be able to help with, to bring diversity to the area."
Even News Channel 25's own Seth Kovar and Makenzi Henderson visited the restaurant.
For more information about Stone Hearth, visit their Facebook page.
You can see the artwork inside of the restaurant and several other areas in Waco here.
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