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Indian Cuisine Hits Fredericksburg Menu

By Kelby Hartson Carr

Fredericksburg diners are about to get their wish, as plans are under way to add Indian cuisine to the local menu.

Davainber Mathur, owner of Taste of Tandoor Indian restaurant in Woodbridge, said his customers persuaded him to set up in Fredericksburg.

He will open Guru in late July in Central Park's Uptown section.

There is also talk of a second Indian restaurant opening by another restaurateur, but plans are not finalized. "I have a lot of people who come up from Fredericksburg, and they kind of encouraged me to do something," Mathur said.

In a recent Free Lance-Star story asking readers what businesses they wish would locate in the area, an Indian restaurant ranked second highest in dining, behind Chili's.

Indian cuisine is noted for its exotic flavors and rich spices. It also has many vegetarian-friendly dishes. Resident are excited to see Indian cuisine coming to the area.

"Fredericksburg needs an Indian restaurant," Daniel Elasky of Fredericksburg said. "The area has attracted a decent array of eateries representing all the great cuisines of the world - except Indian.

"It is a style of cooking that is different from all others, and a truly refreshing change of pace," he added. "With Fredericksburg's increasingly cosmopolitan population, a good Indian restauarant would be certain to succeed."

Mathur also believes Fredericksburg-area residents can support an Indian restaurant. He said the area has people with sophisticated palates who appreciate ethnic cuisine. "Fredericksburg is growing very fast," he said. "A lot of people go and work in D.C. and they are familiar with the food. That made me decide to take a chance on the Fredericksburg area. His hunch is right.

The National Restaurant Association's Ethnic Cuisine II, a consumer survey commissioned by the association, shows the people who try Indian cuisine are well-educated, have higher incomes and live in urban areas.

A whopping 31 percent of Fredericksburg-area workers commute to Washington or Northern Virginia.

Stafford County, for example, has a median household income higher than that of 99 percent of American households, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. At $66,809 a year, it's the fifth-richest county in the state and it ranks 28 among cities and counties nationwide. Indeed, every city and county in the Fredericksburg region ranks in the top half of counties and cities nationwide.

One out of four resident in the region has a bachelor's degree, according to the census. Nearly a third in Fredericksburg do.

Eve Carr, a Stafford County resident who was among those to vote for Indian cuisine in The Free Lance-Star reader request, was thrilled by the news.

"I am absolutely delighted to not only see more variety in the ethnic restaurants in the Fredericksburg area, but especially like the fact that we are having more family-run businesses," Carr said. "Besides, it's more interesting to dine in a restaurant that is unique than a chain."

-- Staff writer Janet Marshall contributed to this report.

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