Mike Patel, left, and his cousin and business partner Sunny Patel are preparing to open a new Indian restaurant in Skowhegan next month. It will bring diverse dishes and culture to the area, they said. Credit: Valerie Royzman / BDN

SKOWHEGAN, Maine — The owners of a convenience store and supermarket in central Maine are expanding with a restaurant serving authentic Indian cuisine, including what could be the state’s first Indian pizza. 

Mike and Sunny Patel are cousins and business partners hailing from Gujarat, a state along the western coast of India, though they have lived in the United States since 2014 and 2019, respectively. They own and operate Canaan Superette, a convenience store and gas station, and Moose Lake Market, a grocery store in Hartland that they acquired late last year.

After more than two months of renovating the building at 60 Waterville Road in Skowhegan, which was a former pizza joint, they’re gearing up to open Flavour’s of India in early February.

The dine-in and takeout restaurant will bring more diverse food options and culture to the residents of Skowhegan and surrounding towns. It is the latest business to open in the growing community.

The Patel family wants to introduce fare that is delicious and different, and the spot will be the only in town offering Indian dishes, Sunny Patel said.

“We saw an opportunity here,” said Mike Patel, who lives in Massachusetts but plans to visit frequently. “We need to give people better tastes and new tastes.”

Mike and Sunny Patel, who also have a convenience store in Maynard, Massachusetts, and a liquor store in Ayer, Massachusetts, decided to open a restaurant after they experimented with Indian takeout at the Canaan convenience store and received positive feedback.

Sunny Patel and his wife, Payal, reside in Skowhegan. They’ll spend most of their time in the kitchen and are eager to share Indian fare, including butter chicken prepared in a creamy tomato sauce and lamb korma braised with heavy cream, cashews and Indian spices. The menu also has a selection of vegetable, chicken, lamb and seafood curry dishes.

Assorted spices, some of which will be shipped from India, are the most sacred aspect of the dishes, Sunny Patel said. He once owned a restaurant in South Africa’s coastal city of Durban and has dreamed of the experience again, he said.

The restaurant will also offer American favorites, including burgers, cold and hot sandwiches and more than 10 varieties of pizza. Mike and Sunny Patel hope patrons take to their Indian-style pizzas, they said.

“It’s a curry-based pizza — my own recipes and different spices,” Sunny Patel said. “It won’t use normal pizza sauce. I don’t think anybody’s selling that in Maine.”

The cousins are spending the next few weeks wrapping up renovations and hiring a team of kitchen and wait staff, which includes several people already on board.

They bought new kitchen equipment and restaurant furniture and installed new vinyl flooring, among other changes. About 90 percent of the space was flipped because they hope to use a similar design — with black tile ceilings, gray walls with red accents and varied sparkling lights — if they ever expand, Sunny Patel said.

“We hope for good reviews and hope people love the food,” Mike Patel said.

Sunny Patel chimed in: “We will give people our best. Always the best.”