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Damaged restaurant reopens

India Palace celebrates with loyal diners

Tammy Kaur did not take her youngest children to see the vandal-caused destruction at their family's Indian cuisine restaurant on Biddle Road.

The spinach-splattered windows, smashed dishes, overturned tables and chairs, holes in the walls, and damaged kitchen equipment — Kaur considered the affront to her family's livelihood too unsettling for her children to see.

My 15-year-old was here, and it was very difficult for him, she said.

But on Tuesday, the entire family was celebrating as India Palace reopened at its Blue Sky Plaza location. Walls were as pink and bright as ever. Curried dishes beckoned from the kitchen. Holes in the walls were repaired, and Kaur's small daughters frolicked on the new carpet amid lunchtime diners.

We're so glad to be open, Kaur said as she hugged longtime customers Don and Linda Granfield, of Central Point. We're really glad to be open.

The celebration came two and a half weeks after vandals wreaked havoc throughout the restaurant in the early morning hours of Nov. 10.

Damandip Singh Basra, 19, the son of an Ashland competitor, was arrested the next day and charged with second-degree burglary, first-degree criminal mischief and attempted arson in the attack, which resulted in approximately $28,000 in damages to India Palace.

The cleaning bill alone was $5,000, Kaur said. Insurance coverage will fall about $10,000 shy of covering the damage because of a cap on losses arising from vandalism.

I guess we didn't read the policy very well, she said.

Medford police have said they believe more than one person may have been involved in the vandalism and are continuing their investigation.

The reason for the attack is still not clear, but Kaur said she and her partners, which include her husband, Avtar, believe the devastation was intended to put them out of business.

I feel angry ... that he would be so angry at us for no reason, she said of the vandal. I've never even met this person before. To know that someone could do that to me and my family has been hurtful.

Surveillance camera equipment taken from the ransacked restaurant and found in Basra's possession was used to tie him to the crime scene, Kaur said.

While the system was not currently in use at the time of the attack, a recovered tape showed scenes of the restaurant when it was operated by former tenant Si Casa Flores.

A possible motive for the attack lies in the connection between Kaur's new partners, Ranjit and Jessie Singh, and their former employer, Three Rivers Authentic Cuisine of India, owned by Basra's father. Ranjit and Singh left their jobs at the Ashland restaurant to form a partnership with the Kaurs.

Kaur said the destruction of the restaurant's special stove — a tandoor — and other equipment unique to the creation of Indian cuisine indicated the person involved knew where India Palace was most vulnerable.

A new stove has been ordered but will take six to eight weeks to arrive, she said.

The Granfields said they were heart broke when they saw the restaurant the morning after the attack.

We consider (the Kaurs) friends ... and we've been praying for them since this happened, Linda Granfield said as she finished her rice pudding.

Smiling, Granfield said she believes the attempt to put the India Palace out of business will probably have the opposite effect.

With all the media attention and curiosity, now their business will probably grow tenfold, she said.

— Reach reporter at 776-4463, or e-mail .

Damaged restaurant reopens