Friday, April 20, 2018
Business

Zephyrhills restaurant offers Indian food, culture

ZEPHYRHILLS — There are twelve tables, three servers and one chef at Mayoor. The small Indian restaurant has been open since November, and its staff has a big goal: to introduce the community to Indian food and culture.

"The culture is very diverse, with influences from all around the world," said Jithin Sajan, 21.

Sajan, the restaurant owner's son, lives in Brandon, majors in mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida and helps his father manage Mayoor.

His father, Sajan Kallupalathinkal, 55, was born in Kerala, India, and moved to the United States in the 1980s, when his uncle got a job in New York. Kallupalathinkal, who mostly speaks the language Malayalam, is an electrician by trade, Sajan said, but created his own catering service in 1992. He moved his family to Florida in 1995 and has owned three catering services.

"He always wanted to open a restaurant," Sajan said.

The restaurant widens dining horizons for the community that surrounds it, Sajan said, because the next closest Indian restaurant is in Tampa.

Kallupalathinkal "wants to make everyone happy by cutting the drive to Tampa in order to get Indian food," Sajan said. And what customers can eat at Mayoor is different from what they might eat at nearby restaurants.

"Everybody seems to be stuck with fast food and country fried steak," he said. "I like country fried steak."

But Indian food is worth a try, he said.

It isn't always as spicy as patrons expect. People say "you'll tear up" if you eat it, Sajan said, but Indian food can be "way spicier than the food we serve here. If you want it spicy, we can make it spicy."

Lunch at Mayoor is always a buffet, which is different every day. At dinner, patrons can pick "special creations," which include Mayoora Special Naan, an Indian bread stuffed with dry fruits and coconuts, and Mayoor Hot Wings, chicken wings cooked in a clay oven and spiced with some Indian spices. There are also traditional dishes from which to choose.

The restaurant's most popular dish is Chicken Tikka Masala, Sajan said, and the menu also includes dishes with chick peas, fish, shrimp and lamb.

"(A fast food restaurant) isn't going to serve lamb anytime soon," Sajan said, adding that at Mayoor, "everything's made fresh, every day."

The food is "very authentic," said Sam Abrahani, who is from India originally and eats at Mayoor "at least three times a week." When he discovered the restaurant, he worried whether it "would succeed in a little town like Zephyrhills."

But, he said, "diversity is the word for the decade."

That, said Sajan's cousin Nevin Alummoottil, is what Mayoor really brings.

"I'm a first-generation American," said Alummoottil, 19, who works as a server. "Even though I'm from here, I have a big appreciation for being Indian" — an appreciation he hopes to foster for Mayoor's patrons.

"We have different traditions, a really rich culture," he said.

And Sajan added: "The food reflects that."

Arleen Spenceley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6235.

Comments
Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

State regulators Friday determined that one of the country’s largest residential solar companies, San Francisco-based Sunrun, is allowed to lease solar energy equipment for homes in Florida. The decision, solar energy advocates say, could open the do...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

For the sixth month running, Florida’s unemployment rate held at a nearly 11-year low of 3.9 percent in March as steady job gains continued. While many factors kept Florida’s economy chugging along, three industries stand out for leading year-over-ye...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house."Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps are too ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene to chat about the retail giant’s latest retail strategies and how the company is winning over customers in a competitive market.Already, two of the ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Tampa Bay foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa has violated numerous rules of professional conduct and caused two clients to nearly lose their homes because he failed to tell them about settlement offers from their banks. In preliminary findings of ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

Associated PressNEW YORK — SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential data breach. The Atlanta bank says that it became aware of the potential theft by a former employee and that the investiga...
Published: 04/20/18
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18
Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

TAMPA — Developers on Thursday detailed plans for what they touted as the tallest building on Florida’s west coast, with condominiums priced in six and seven figures and a shimmering glass design they say would stand out in the skylines of New York, ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

ST. PETERSBURG — Beef jerky, mayonnaise and Altoids mints were the only edible things in view inside one of the houses. There was no running water. The refrigerator was empty. A bed sat on top of the deteriorating living room floor. Cigarette butts b...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18