- File: James Buck
- Vegetable korma, chicken momos and chicken tikka masala at Red Panda in Burlington
Buoyed by the reception to their downtown Burlington restaurant Red Panda, business partners Dan Raut and Lakpa Sherpa have been working with fellow Nepali Americans to launch several more associated restaurants. The third location, Red Panda Essex, will open at 163 Pearl Street by the end of January or beginning of February.
The original Red Panda opened at 161 Church Street in July 2019. Its broad menu, which the owners describe as Indian, Nepali and Indo-Chinese, includes tomato-based curries, dumplings known as momos and less common Nepali specialties such as thukpa noodle soup.
A second restaurant, New Red Panda, opened at 199 Route 7 in Milton in November, Raut said. It is run by Sherpa's nephew, Kamal Sherpa, and "has the same menu and the same spices," Raut said.
Red Panda Essex will open in the spot occupied for a decade by Firebird Café, which moved to Five Corners in early fall 2019. When they first took over the lease, Raut and Lakpa Sherpa sublet the space to Sherpa Dahal. That restaurant, which was under Kamal Sherpa's primary ownership, closed in December 2020 after less than a year in operation. Kamal left to run New Red Panda in Milton in November.
A fourth associated restaurant, Makalu, will open at 49 Heineberg Drive in Colchester in early March, Raut said. Named for the Himalayan peak that is the fifth highest mountain in the world, it will be run by Dawa Sherpa, Lakpa's sister-in-law, and her cousin, Sona Sherpa.
With so many customers ordering online right now, differentiating the restaurants by name helps reduce location confusion, Raut noted. Makalu will have a similar menu and the support and experience of the Red Panda founders.
"My vision is that every town will get this healthy food," Raut said. "We will also create businesses and jobs for our community."