New Albany Indian restaurant brings diverse food options, city restaurant survival rates in flux
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Many Albany residents might have already stopped by the new Indian restaurant to get a plate of Indian cuisine. That’s because, finally Jessi’s Indian Kitchen, the only Indian restaurant in town, opened its doors.
“I just know that the rest of my days will be better because I’ve been waiting two weeks for this place to open,” said Lauren Seeders, an Albany resident.
Before the restaurant opened, some people, like Albany resident Raphael Kirby, would travel miles to Atlanta to get Indian food.
“But now, with this restaurant being here, I don’t have to go so far,” Kirby said.
Another Albany resident, Melissa Turner, said it’s important to have diverse food options like this in the Good Life City.
“We can’t travel the world, but to have it here and experience other cultures just through their foods, it’s important,” Turner said.
Owner Samuel Utchula said it hasn’t always been easy to get to this point.
“It took almost two months to start a business,” Utchula said.
He added that he’s nervous about what the future holds for his business considering the current economy. It’s estimated 1 in 3 restaurants will fail in their first year, according to the National Restaurant Association. At the restaurant’s location at 2319 Gillionville Road, residents say they’ve seen two other businesses come and go, but Utchula says he’s here to stay.
“It is not easy to start any kind of business when it comes to restaurants, but by the grace of God, we got a chance to do it and we have the courage to do it,” Utchula said. “Serving food is like serving the Lord, you know? So we want to serve the community with good food so that they can enjoy the food and have good fellowship with us.”
While restaurants continue to open like Jessi’s, some continue to close down.
“The longevity of restaurants staying here in Albany is not good,” Kirby said.
In all, there are 64 active service restaurants and 30 active food service drinking establishments throughout Albany. According to Albany’s license inspector, Anthony Donaldson, eight restaurants have closed down in the past year and four have opened up — all of which Albany residents have noticed.
But despite the fluctuation in business, owners still choose to open and say the best way to survive is to gather the support of the community while staying ahead of market curves.
“Businesses, in general, not just particular to Albany, have success rates and failure rates. It’s so important for our community to support local businesses. That helps businesses succeed,” Barbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, said.
Most customers say they hope to see not only the new Indian restaurant succeed but also hope more diverse food options are coming to the Good Life City.
Copyright 2023 WALB. All rights reserved.