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By Norb Garrett
Four years after fulfilling his lifelong dream of opening a “special Indian restaurant with a great wine list and excellent customer service”—Basanti in San Juan Capistrano—owner Roshan KC this past April opened his second Basanti location in San Clemente’s Talega neighborhood.
“A lot of people who ate at our San Juan Capistrano restaurant were coming from San Clemente, so I started looking around for a location in San Clemente,” said KC, whose love for cooking comes from his father. Though KC’s father wasn’t a trained chef, he also loved cooking and passed his love on to his son.
“Even through the pandemic, we were blessed,” KC continued. “Our takeout business in San Juan Capistrano did very well, and I was able to look for the new location in San Clemente.”
KC’s path to San Clemente was a circuitous one. Born and raised in Nepal, he owned a successful trekking/hiking adventure travel company there, which included taking hikers to the base camp at Mount Everest.
A business trip to San Francisco in 1999 exposed him to the opportunities in the U.S., so he decided to make a go of life in America. He found work at a French bistro, and then put himself through culinary school. It was at the French restaurant where he witnessed how special the interaction was with customers—a quality he says is central to his ethos and worldview.
“It had such a great vibe to it,” he recalled, “and I loved it.”
He loved it so much, he and a partner started their own restaurant—a Nepalese-Indian fusion—which succumbed in 2009 to the economic pressures from the Great Recession.
He and his new wife, Shradha, then packed up their belongings and moved to Catalina Island, where he worked for several years with the Catalina Island Company and where the couple had their first child.
Eventually, the young family moved to Fullerton, where Roshan was commuting to Santa Monica for his job at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel.
“The drive to L.A. was terrible, and I had a dream to open a restaurant,” he said.
He found a location in San Juan Capistrano and took the plunge. He opened in June 2017, driven by a Sanskrit mantra he had adopted along the way, “Atithi Devo Vaho,” which when translated means, “Guests are equivalent to God.” That saying serves as his guiding light and adorns the wall decorations in both locations.
“I know how important my guests are to our success,” he said, remembering what he learned at the tiny French bistro in San Francisco. “I am blessed when a guest comes into my restaurant. I want to treat them as friends and family.”
So far, his approach is paying off, and as his family has now grown (a second child and a dog have joined the fun), so have his business and his appreciation for his customers.
“The people from San Clemente are very welcoming,” he said, noting that the restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday (lunch from 11 a.m-2 p.m., dinner from 4:30-9 p.m.) and closed on Monday. “Once I opened this place, all of the clients we had who used to come to San Juan are now here, along with many new customers.”