Behind a humorous name and charming cartoon mascot lies a unique, cultural cuisine that recently opened in Tallahassee’s University Village Shopping Center.
Tarun Gupta and Drew Rudolph are the brilliant minds behind Naantheless, Tallahassee’s latest Indian cuisine. At first thought, the duo believed the concept of opening a restaurant was a joke, but they turned their punchline into an introduction for their business.
“So the more we joked about [opening a business] post-college, we were wondering what was stopping us,” Gupta said.
Gupta and Rudolph met while studying at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Opening a restaurant amid a pandemic is a task that many cannot accomplish, due to financial and economic burdens. However, Gupta and Rudolph were fully prepared for their late September opening, since they were set to originally open in spring 2020.
“We were hoping to open late March, or early April,” Rudolph said. “I actually moved down here in the very beginning of March when everything started to close down, so we had to make the hard decision to delay it.”
Tallahassee is home to a minimal number of authentic Indian restaurants, including Essence of India, Mayuri Indian Restaurant, Persis Indian Grill and Aaru’s Multicuisine Restaurant. Unfortunately, these restaurants have menus that are not deemed budget-friendly toward most college students, and they are all distanced from the universities.
“If you’re using Monroe Street to narrow it down, I’m pretty sure we’re the only brick-and-mortar Indian place,” Gupta said. “Tallahassee has fantastic Indian restaurants, but they’re very traditional, sit-down locations where you’ll spend 30-45 minutes dining in. So, we wanted to go in the other direction of that with an option for fast food.”
Naantheless markets themselves for the demographic of college students by aligning with three goals– to be simple, affordable and accessible.
“There isn’t an Indian fast food place,” Gupta said. “For Mexican food, you have Taco Bell or for Chinese food, you have Panda Express, but there’s not a fast food franchise for Indian food.”
If you’re familiar with Indian meals, you may think of the popular butter chicken, or tikka masala, although, Naantheless is fully vegetarian and has many vegan options. Samosas –– a fried pocket filled with spiced potatoes –– is a signature street food in India and is featured on their menu at the price of 2 for $3.50. Their menu also Americanized many Indian dishes in order to ease a customer’s first time trying the cultural cuisine.
For those that aren’t familiar with Indian food, the naan-traditional pizza is served on their in-house naan bread topped with traditional pizza toppings and Indian spices for $4. Another popular dish – sloppy akash – is popular among customers curious for their first Indian dish, since it is a sandwich-style item.
According to the Tallahassee Foodies blog, “Their menu is super easy to read with suggested ordering based on hunger level which I loved, ranging from snack-mode to hangry. I didn’t see anything on their menu over four dollars, and we were stuffed from the two menu items we sampled.”
Gupta and Rudolph noticed that customers would question the absence of meat options, so their menu is set to expand by the end of January. You can find them on Instagram or visit their location at 2020 W Pensacola St Suite 220, Tallahassee, FL 32304.