Distinguished Indian Canadian chef is coming to Leonard

I am still catching up to CB1’s flurry of liquor licenses — and I’ve been wanting to learn more about this one, the former Tetsu space at 78 Leonard, but there was a tech glitch and the meeting didn’t record. SO…I have reached out to the owner on LinkedIn and Instagram; will update this post if I hear back.

In the meantime, here’s the little I have from the CB1 stipulations and some googling. Saying Hemant Bhagwani has several restaurants in Toronto is an understatement — from what I can glean he is a culinary brand and has won several entrepreneur awards as well. He’s got Mumbai Frankie, elevated Indian street food that now has five outlets across the city and suburbs; Goa, Indian farm-to-table opened in 2018; Good Karma, which has fast casual Indian-inspired salads and smoothies; and a Burmese restaurant called Popa. There are a few others on his CV but you get the idea.

I am betting on the Goa model for this location, which right now has the non-committal corporate name of “Smart Kitchen Tech Inc.”

Bhagwani received his culinary training in Switzerland, then moved to Australia and Dubai before settling in Toronto in 2000, opening his first restaurant in 2002 by taking over a Chinese restaurant and remodeling it. He hires workers from India to train and cook in his kitchens, so they can eventually move up to management-level positions. I imagine that’s how you build a culinary empire. His signature is to combine Indian cuisine with flavors from other cultures, such as Portuguese and Burmese.

CB1 granted him till 2a on the weekends, midnight on the weekdays.

Tetsu, a vehicle for celebrated chef Masayoshi Takayama, closed in February 2020 — just before the pandemic and just two and a half years after it opened. Masa’s $750 omakase service is still open in Columbus Circle.



  1. Don’t we need a more affordable Indian restaurant in Tribeca? I wouldn’t call Tamarind or Paisley affordable. Btw, what’s up with the chef’s Instagram referring to him in the third person? Managed by someone else or just a Caesarian bent of mind? :)

  2. Totally agree. Tamarind feels like a business account Indian restaurant, the beige version of the rich, colorful and fun Indian food culture. But again, the stake is very high to open a restaurant in Tribeca, impossible without serious corporate backing, that eliminates any attempt for creativity and spontaneity. Dull and stodgy while over priced has become the expected here.

  3. Looking forward to some great indian cuisine from Canada in NyC