Bollywood Theater's colorful counter service sign
Bollywood Theater's colorful counter service sign

High food and labor costs, struggling sales, increased competition: The restaurant world is rife with problems. Bollywood Theater owner and chef Troy MacLarty has faced many of these and more, but in his case, the problems are mostly good ones.

MacLarty's fast-casual Indian inspired restaurant has been booming since its doors opened on NE Alberta in 2012, and last month Bollywood Theater was named “Rising Star” restaurant in The Oregonian’s annual Diner Guide.

Since the announcement of the Rising Star award, Bollywood’s business has increased between 30 and 35% according to MacLarty. “We were already slammed. The amount of pressure on the line reminds me of working at Chez Panisse.”

His small staff churns out 1200 to 1400 plates every day, with no prep cooks or storage space to buffer the inevitable onslaught of the next day or even the next meal.

Just four days after receiving the reward, Bollywood Theater announced the opening of a second location in the in the upcoming D-Street Village development on Southeast Division Street at 30th Avenue. The 4,000-square-foot hybrid space will host another street-food slinging eatery (plus large patio) fueled by an expanded kitchen, as well as a mini-market with select Indian spices and ingredients.

“There’s high demand for our housemade paneer,” says MacLarty, “but we don’t have an exact plan for what we’re going to serve just yet.” MacLarty is considering adding other Bollywood specialties to the list such as curries and specialty spice mixtures, but isn’t afraid to admit that, despite his excitement, the retail aspect of the new outpost is easily “the most intimidating” element. 

MacLarty seems not to sweat the other aspects, however. He prides himself on creating manageable menus, which he aims to infuse with more seasonal influence. The space limitations at the Alberta outpost have prohibited him from changing the menu more frequently. But with the extra kitchen space, the Bollywood crew can prepare and store food for all the eateries meaning that guests can look forward to new dishes at both locations following the SE Bollywood Theater opening, which is slated for November of this year.

Sounds like the solution to Bollywood’s plethora of "problems" - limited kitchen space, growing popularity, increasing accolades - will lead to an exciting addition to Portland's Southeast dining scene.