When Milind and Madhuri Ranada’s children were attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, they were unsatisfied with the vegetarian and Indian food offerings for students on campus.
They decided to do something about this and help all students — not just their children — by providing affordable and healthy food from their home city of Mumbai.
“My kids grew up on this campus, they attended this college and they didn’t find many options for vegetarian food… they wanted their mom to do something. So we said, ‘Let’s make a food cart that will help students.’ Our goal is to serve students, but of course, all are welcome,” Milind Ranada said.
The Ranadas designed Bombay Fast Cafe themselves — from the menu to the food truck itself. Milind Ranada designed the stainless steel truck before it was manufactured at a friend’s workshop in Philadelphia.
“It suits our workflows and equipment,” Milind Ranada said. “That’s what enables us to serve every single plate steaming hot.”
The Ranadas hope to serve “fast food” during the weekday lunch rush at Library Mall, but not in the word’s traditional definition. The menu is directly inspired by Indian street food.
“I won’t call it fast food because it has that connotation… but it is very quick, healthy, energy-giving and authentic food,” Milind Ranada said.
The menu consists of several plates, including a Vada Pav potato veggie burger, Falafel and vegetables cooked with Indian spices and sauces. Each meal costs under $10, affordable compared to a salad at Sweetgreen, which can run north of $15.
“Every plate is designed so that it has good fun, good taste, authentic spices, a lot of proteins, fibers, everything,” Milind Ranada said.
Milind Ranada said UW-Madison’s culture and the energy of young people on campus remind him and his wife of Mumbai
It’s what cemented their desire to be on campus and own a food truck, he added.
“My wife and I are very fond of campuses and consider them a special type of active place,” Milind Ranada said. “The young atmosphere and energy here is very similar to the demographics in Bombay. It’s a very young country, the average age is around 30. I just like this place. It’s very beautiful… very open-minded.”
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Noe Goldhaber is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal specializing in campus and state news reporting.