Former Tandoori owner plans apartment complex in place of restaurant
The former owner of the Tandoori Royal Indian Cuisine restaurant in Amherst is moving forward with plans to replace the old restaurant with an apartment complex, but on a slightly smaller scale.
Ravi Sabharwal wants to demolish the former vacant one-story restaurant and build a five-story apartment building on the northwest corner of Transit Road and Sheridan Drive, on land surrounded by the two streets and a ramp. curved access between them.
Plans for The Junction include a 67,828 square foot building, with 36 covered parking spaces.
The next three floors would feature 12 apartments each — four one-bedroom units and eight two-bedroom units — with a single large 1,890-square-foot penthouse and outdoor patio on the top floor. In total, the building will feature 37 apartments, including 12 one-bedroom units ranging in size from 1,061 to 1,085 square feet and 24 two-bedroom apartments ranging from 1,223 to 1,682 square feet, plus the penthouse.
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The site, which overlooks both streets, will include a total of 71 parking spaces, including surface spaces.
The cost is still being determined, but Sabharwal said it will be less than $10 million.
Sabharwal requested and received a rezoning of the property earlier this year. He still needs approval from the Amherst Planning Board, as well as regular municipal, county and state permits, and expects to begin work in the spring. The Amherst Planning Board will review the project Nov. 17.
“I would like to start yesterday,” Sabharwal said. “Amherst has been great with us. I’m just waiting for the final things to be done.”
Located at 7740 Transit, the 1.53 acre property is in a highly visible location with heavy traffic, making it attractive to apartment residents looking for convenient access to two main roads, bordering of Amherst and Clarence. It’s also in the middle of Transit’s commercial strip, providing easy access to shops and restaurants — including Pizza Plant and Santora’s Pizza Pub and Grill almost next door, and Sheridan Meadows Corporate Park in the back.
“I just felt the demand was there for apartments,” Sabharwal said. “It was just the right place and the right time for it, being such a busy hallway. Everything falls into place for that.”
Sabharwal and his wife, Rita, opened Tandoori on Delaware Avenue in 1991, but moved to Amherst in 1999, then opened Palm’s Banquets in 2001. But they fell under a cloud in 2013, when IRS agents raided the couple’s restaurant and home while in connection with a criminal investigation into undeclared employee earnings and wages.
Ravi Sabharwal pleaded guilty in federal court in 2014 to filing a false tax return and underreporting profits from his restaurant to avoid tens of thousands of dollars in taxes. He was sentenced to time served and six months house arrest in 2014, but the restaurant never fully recovered. It filed for bankruptcy in March 2016, hoping to reorganize, but the couple opted to close in February 2017 instead.
The couple have previously invested in other businesses and abruptly closed one, McKinley’s Banquet and Conference Center in Blasdell, after running into financial trouble in 2011.