Southlake residents Javeed and Sonia Khan are bringing their brand of Indian food to their city with the new Mughlai Fine Indian Cuisine.
The 7,000-square-foot restaurant is scheduled to open March 16 in the former Red Dog Right location, 3311 E. State Highway 114 in Southlake.
The Khans opened their first Mughlai restaurant in north Dallas in 2011 but their Southlake friends wanted a restaurant closer to home.
"Finally, we decided that it was a good time for us," Sonia Khan said. "And the location is perfect. It was just meant to be."
From the red and gold curtains and pendants to the Taj Mahal painting, they’ve been busy transforming the old sports bar into an Indian oasis.
Sonia Khan said they know all the regulars at the Dallas location and they expect the same in Southlake to be the same. Her goal is create a place where “everybody knows your name,” referencing the old Cheers sitcom.
“We’re trying to create a very different atmosphere. I’m turning it into fine dining,” Sonia Khan said. “The theme of the restaurant is gold and burgundy. It’s very rich, lush colors that we relate to happiness.”
The a la carte menu will be available for lunch and dinner. For the lunch crowd, Mughlai will offer a buffet with vegetarian appetizers, lentil soups, chicken entrees and a dessert.
It’s a good introduction for people who aren’t familiar with Indian food.
“By having a buffet set up, they get to taste a lot of different flavors,” Sonia Khan said. “It’s just prepared so differently.”
There’s also a full-service bar with several beers on tap, including India’s own Kingfisher Beer.
The menu and the name of the restaurant were inspired by Sonia Khan’s father, Satish Mehtani, who owns several restaurants in the Northeast. Mehtani has even catered events at the White House for President Bill Clinton and other high-profile people.
Mehtani named his restaurants Mogul Room, a reference to the Mogul Empire that ruled India during medieval times. The empire fused the cuisines of India with Persia, creating a new style of food called Mughlai, hence the name of the Khans’ restaurant.
The cuisine is primarily from Northern India and was popular with emperors and other royalty.
Their son Shahbaaz Khan has also joined the family business, becoming the third generation to work in the restaurant business.
“We’re basing this restaurant off of my grandfather’s success in New York, Boston and New Jersey,” Shahbaaz Khan said. “We have about 35 years of extra experience to rely upon.”
The Southlake restaurant will be larger than the Dallas location, allowing them to possibly expand the menu and host parties of 100-plus people. The restaurant will seat up to 260 people.
"We have the capacity to do more," Shahbaaz Khan said.
Sonia Khan has a background in computer programming and worked as an elementary school teacher. Javeed Khan worked information security for several large banks for 24 years.
When they moved to Southlake in 2009, they saw a lack of authentic Indian restaurants in North Texas.
So, they took a leap of faith and opened Mughlai in the summer of 2011 in Dallas.
The original restaurant has garnered several accolades in recent years. It was among the 50 best restaurants in Dallas in 2016 by D Magazine. And it’s been named among the best Indian food restaurants 2013-2015, also by D Magazine.
They Khans are working 80 to 90 hours a week but the attention to detail in the restaurant shows that it’s a labor of love.
“As far as watching every table and knowing who needs what, it comes very naturally to me because of the school,” Sonia Khan said.
They wouldn’t disclose how much they’d invested in the Southlake location. Shahbaaz Khan did say that Southlake has been great to work with.
“We’re residents so we’ve always appreciated how clean and straightforward the rules are,” he said. “They have rules for everything to make sure everything looks great for the city, the residents and the business owners.”