Fast-Casual Indian Coming to OTR

Injoy Street Food food cart is set to launch its first brick and mortar in Over-the-Rhine

click to enlarge L-R: Injoy’s Ben Ranly, Ronaldo Gillespie and Phillip Ranly - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
L-R: Injoy’s Ben Ranly, Ronaldo Gillespie and Phillip Ranly

What started as a two-wheeled food cart has pumped the brakes on mobility as Injoy Street Food, a Queen City pioneer of fast-casual Indian cuisine, is set to launch its first brick and mortar in Over-the-Rhine. 

Injoy will open its doors later this month at 1400 Republic St., replacing the former picnic-and-pantry shop Bottle & Basket.

Unlike other traditional takes on Indian fare, Injoy’s mainstays are create-your-own bowls and wraps featuring an array of Indian-inspired sauces and toppings, including a “tikkasala” sauce, basmati rice and aloo gobi, a spicy blend of cauliflower and sweet potatoes.

Catering to the health-conscious and vegan crowds, Injoy uses coconut milk rather than whole cream to create their go-to sweet and simmered tikkasala. “We’ve been able to make (our sauce) so delicious but still vegan while incorporating healthy factors,” says co-owner Ronaldo Gillespie. “I would say that we’ve found a whole new demographic that I never even expected to like our food.”

The menu also includes of a range of fresh, scratch-made garnishes like curry peanuts in chickpea flour, oven-roasted chicken and chili sauce sweetened with beet kvass and agave. The idea is to let patrons pile on the toppings without piling on the often-accompanying guilt of eating a heavy meal. 

“There’s just a lot more layering that we bring to the table compared to traditional Indian restaurants,” Gillespie says. 

Even after they open their doors, the team behind Injoy — Gillespie and brothers Phillip and Ben Ranly — will continue to tour their food cart to local events. The menu will stay intact in terms of the cart’s current offerings, but with the added stability, the three hope to experiment with other toppings and sauces to bolster the restaurant menu, which also includes samosas and naan.

“We’ve been experimenting with what kind of chutneys we want to use with our samosas and what kind of fillings,” says Phillip. “We’ve got some recipes we feel really good about, but we also want to add to that and add seasonal stuff as well.”

Before the restaurant, the trio behind Injoy were tight-knit friends working jobs outside of the culinary sector. However, a combination of sudden inspiration and their already strong bond pushed them to uproot their respective lives and pursue Injoy following a “game-changing” sailing trip across Europe in the summer of 2015.

They wanted to open a restaurant, but were still looking for ideas. Gillespie was interested in fast-casual burgers, but Ben was a big fan of Indian food and wanted something quicker than Cincy’s current offerings. Ben convinced the team to pivot to Indian in the early planning stages, and following in the footsteps of the many millennial innovators and entrepreneurs before them, the friends were quick to seek out a tried-and-true source of culinary information: the internet. 

“We’re internet-trained chefs,” Phillip says. “And I use that word ‘chef’ loosely, but it’s just a process of trial and error. Understanding what works with this and what works with that and kind of piecing that together.”

“Google and YouTube are our best friends,” he adds.

Now, moving to a restaurant model, Injoy’s big three will have even more opportunities to focus on their customers. 

“We just want to be awesome to people,” Ben says. “We want to spread good vibes, spread positivity. Our tag line is ‘Take a moment to be in the moment,’ so we want to blow people away when they taste our food and the experience they have with us. We just want to be genuine, and that’s just a big factor in our business model.”

The emphasis on good vibes stems from their experience embarking on this journey both as friends and as a team. “We break that rule of ‘Don’t do business with your friends,’ ” Gillespie says. “We’ve gotten that warning so many times, but I think that’s what makes our business so cool.”

Friendship hasn’t always been easy to juggle with the business, but they’re confident that the hardships are only making them stronger. 

“I think five years from now, we’ll look back and see these difficult situations and how they made us closer, even better friends,” Gillespie says.

Injoy Street Food will open at 1400 Republic St., Over-the-Rhine. More info:

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