Indians are having a strong impact in Henrico County

By Carly Gorga and Kim Holzinger

Ram Reddy left southern India almost 20 years ago to pursue an education in the United States and moved to Henrico County in 2002 to open an Indian restaurant.

Reddy, a pharmacist by profession, opened The Curry House on Broad Street and Cox Road.

The restaurant offers an environment for the non-Indian population of Henrico County to interact with Indians, Reddy said, citing examples such as Karaoke night and conversations held at the restaurant's bar.

"People who have never interacted with another culture come here and interact,” he said. "They learn about each other."

Patrons of Reddy's restaurant, 50 percent of whom are not Indian, are also learning about the intricacies of Indian food, he said, explaining that contrary to popular belief, curry is only a small part of Indian cuisine.

"The buffet is an opportunity to explore different food items from different regions in India," he said.

Restaurants are only one of the many business outlets attracting Indians in Henrico County, said Adish Jain, the Henrico County director of the Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce and president of the Hindu Center of Virginia.

The Indian population in Henrico increased by about 71 percent between 2000 and 2006, or from 2,560 to 4,369 people, according to the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Most of the Indians in Henrico are professional people, Jain said, including doctors, engineers, computer programmers and architects. Information technology has drawn many Indians, said Jain, who owns an information technology business, Leading Edge Systems, in Richmond.
Reddy agreed, saying that in the past five years there has been a large increase in the Indian population in Henrico because of information technology.

Jain said that there were many other areas of business that Indians pursued, including opening hotels, insurance businesses and Indian grocery stores, such as Laxmi Palace and Indo-Pak Super Store, both on Broad Street.

Shiva Pillai, who has lived in Henrico for six years, owns another Indian business in the area.

The Indian Cinema House, which Pillai opened 2 1/2 years ago, is the only video store of its kind in Henrico, Pillai said, explaining that sales of Indian movies are usually limited to small sections of grocery stores.  Instead, his video store is adjacent to the grocery store Laxmi Palace.

All of his customers are Indian, Pillai said, and membership has increased from 200 to 1,000 people since the store opened during 2005. Pillai hopes to reach out to the American population of Henrico County as well by opening an Indian bakery in the next few months.

Jain, Reddy and Pillai each said the increasing Indian population has economically benefited Henrico County.
Reddy said Indians had been spending money and purchasing homes, causing real estate values to rise. Jain said the hotels and motels owned by Indians generated revenue, and Indian businesses were adding tax dollars to the county.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the median household income for Indians was $58,958, compared with the Henrico media of $49,185.

Indians are contributing to the growing community of Henrico County, Jain said. Although Reddy also noted the financial effects of Indians, he did not recognize a significant cultural impact.

"Most families are very young so the impact hasn't been that dramatic," Reddy said. "In a few years down the line, local people will get more exposed to Indian people. A lot of children will go to public schools and cultures and families will interact."

Pillai has two children, ages 6 and 3, who attend school in Henrico. Like Reddy, he said that the Indian population had not had a dramatic cultural impact.

"My kid goes to school for two years and I can hardly speak to her in my native language," Pillai said. "The [Indian] kids blend into American culture."

Jain said the integration of the Indian and local Henrico population was a positive one, describing their efforts to unite the community with cultural programs such as the annual Festival of India held in Richmond.

"The community likes us, and we like the community," Jain said. "It's a great mix the way I see it."

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One Response to Indians are having a strong impact in Henrico County

  1. I like indian food too specially when it is less spicy, great food. Concerning street food in South Asia are the sellers are checked for health standards?

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