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Customers flood longtime SLC restaurant on verge of closing with support

Posted at 10:03 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-09 00:08:47-05

Each phone ring echoing across Himalayan Kitchen is a relief.

It means another order for the South Jordan restaurant, to help owner Surya Bastakoti make ends meet.

"We don't want to go out of business, but we need some support," he said.

FOX 13 first met Bastakoti in late December, just over a week ago at his downtown location.

After 16 years in business at that spot, he expressed that he didn't know how much longer he could stay open. With capacity cut in half inside the restaurant and business down 60 percent, things didn't look good.

But after his story aired, news of Himalayan Kitchen's situation started to circulate on social media. Bastakoti described how customers -- some who hadn't dined there in years -- showed up to express how sad they were he might close.

"A lot of people, they come like, 'We want you to stay in business,'" he recounted. "'We don't want you to go out of business, so what we can help you? How can we help you?'"

They flooded both restaurant locations with orders. Some of them, Bastakoti said, called in orders two or three times during the week. It was clear they didn't want the longtime Salt Lake Valley staple to shut down.

"My reaction is like, 'Wow!'" Bastakoti said. "I didn't know that so much community support I get."

He said those first three days were so busy, customers faced a one to one and a half hour wait, or longer. Cooks tried to keep up with the orders best they could. Bastakoti said customers were understanding with how busy the restaurant suddenly became.

The restaurant owner was touched by the outpouring of love.

"I know. I cry. Yeah," Bastakoti said. "People, they love our food."

Business is cooking now. Friday evening, customers trickled in just before the dinner rush.

Betsy Kelley and Rosalin Livmorre arrived for a late lunch/early dinner.

"We wanted everything," Kelley said, with a laugh. "We seriously wanted to order everything off the menu."

The two women drove from clear out in Monticello, more than four and a half hours away. They spent the day running errands in Salt Lake City, and said they wanted to eat at an Indian food restaurant that was locally owned.

"I'm actually a small business owner myself, and so I also really value that," Livmorre said.

They didn't know about Bastakoti's struggle, but said they're so glad they stopped in.

Each meal makes a difference in his bottom line.

"I think local businesses in general -- it's such a part of what makes every community authentic and real," Kelley said. "And if we lose that, then... it's just, it's so important. It's so important."

Bastakoti expressed that he hopes customers continue the support. Each call, each order, means Himalayan Kitchen stays open another day.

"I don't have a word to express. It's so overwhelming," a grateful Bastakoti said. "I didn't think like we are so loved by the people. But when you see these things, it's very, very kind... the reaction of the people."