KALAMAZOO, MI — Channi and Sheetal Singh are working hard to keep serving a community favorite in Kalamazoo — even during a pandemic.

The Singh family opened Saffron, an Indian restaurant on West Main Street in Kalamazoo, in 2003, and 17 years later, the restaurant is enduring the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of the restaurant’s dishes — which are currently available for takeout — are inspired by Channi’s family recipes back in India, Sheetal Singh said in an interview with MLive.

The menu items include Saffron tandoori chicken, hearty chicken tikka kebab, marvelous shrimp hussaini, peppery chili paneer and blazing lamb vindaloo. The restaurant also has tandoori bread baked on the walls of a clay oven, drinks such as Indian spiced tea with honey and lemon/cream and an assortment of house cocktails.

Saffron is popular with many returning customers. Singh said the dishes are flavorful and made with a lot of spices.

“We want to use the best and the freshest ingredients we can, and he makes all the dishes to order,” Singh said.

Channi moved to America in the 1960s and met Sheetal in New Hampshire. She has family in West Michigan and they loved the smaller atmosphere to raise a family, she said. Her husband’s family baked in India and the couple knew they always wanted to open their own restaurant.

“We are very thankful for the Kalamazoo community,” Singh said. “This is a small town but we have made some amazing friendships, we have made some amazing customers through Saffron. Kalamazoo community is very welcoming. I feel very blessed to be part of this town doing what we do, and we love doing what we do.”

Saffron was closed for about a month when the pandemic first reached Michigan. It reopened for takeout only once the Singh family saw how long the pandemic may last. Today, despite the lifted restrictions on restaurants, Singh said she and her husband aren’t quite ready to serve in the dining room and that takeout feels safer.

“No matter how much precaution we would take, I cannot guarantee that I will be able to keep everybody safe,” Singh said of her staff members and their families.

The restaurant’s hours are limited and the buffet isn’t open because of coronavirus, but Saffron’s loyal customers continue to return for takeout.

“It makes us very happy making others happy with our food,” she said.

The restaurant, which is located at 1710 W. Main St., is currently open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call 269-381-9898 to place an order.

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