An Amber Light in the Heart of Silicon Valley: Welcome to Amber India!

Above: It’s easy to see why dining at Amber India is always the right choice.

When it comes to experience with food, Vijay Bist is the best choice. Vijay brings an extensive amount of knowledge from his academic background and training in the restaurant industry. He started with culinary school in India following training at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay. 

The Beginnings of The Amber Group

After India, Vijay went on to expand his knowledge in Zurich, Switzerland by being trained at one of the most prestigious hotels called Baur Au Lac. Looking for more adventures, Vijay moved to Germany for a year and a half to intern at Hotel Excelsior in Cologne studying wine. He finished off his studies with an MBA right here in the United States. Vijay worked in the restaurant industry for a few years, then started his own restaurant company called The Amber Group which changed his life forever.

Amber India owner Vijay Bist on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 in San Jose, Calif.; photo by Paul Kuroda

The Amber Group started in Mountain View with Amber India. After gaining traction for eight weeks, the location received a profile from The San Francisco Chronicle as it was one of only a few Indian restaurants in the area during that time.

Today, the Amber Group is built up of five Amber Indias, and its original Mountain View location recently moved to Palo Alto after 20 years.

In San Francisco proper, Amber India’s venue reaped popularity fast and received great responses from local customers and patrons. It soon became a place well known in Silicon Valley.

“I had lots of visitors from tech companies, such as Steve Jobs, that came to our restaurants,” Bist pointed out. “A lot of Silicon Valley companies were formed in Amber. They would bring their clients or potential partners and discuss their companies. A Stanford professor would bring the two founders of Google with him.”

The Amber Group’s Philanthropic Programs

But Silicon Valley isn’t the only place Vijay is familiar with. “We are a huge part of the San Francisco and Bay Area community from the organizations we support,” Vijay added. Vijay is a part of the American India Foundation (AIF) which accelerates social and economic change in India. 

Additionally, Vijay’s a member of the Foundation For Excellence (FFE), which focuses on providing funds for higher education to students in India who are academically gifted and from very low-income families. With his vast academic background, it’s no surprise Vijay would help the students of the San Francisco community and India gain academic excellence. 

The Effect of COVID-19

Although popular in the San Francisco and Bay Area community, The Amber Group was not immune to COVID-19. Before the lockdown, The Amber Group had around 200 employees across its five locations.

The restaurant company took a big hit. Vijay was forced to lay off some employees and shut down one of his five locations due to leasing issues. He’s trying to keep as many employees as possible while still supplying medical insurance to those not working, but it’s been hard. 

He currently has 40% of his staff for small stores and deliveries. “We understand that life and health of the employees and customers are more important than anything else,” Vijay said passionately about his current situation. “I am optimistic and I believe at the end of all this, good things will come.”

Even COVID-19 has not stopped Vijay from helping the community his restaurants serve.The Amber Group donated meals to Kaiser Hospital for frontline workers. The group also donated food to the city of San Francisco which has been providing community support throughout various stages of the pandemic. 

Next Steps

Vijay is keeping positive by looking at the next steps for The Amber Group. Just before COVID-19 hit, he hired two new chefs for his San Jose and San Francisco locations. 

The San Francisco location chef is very talented with experience from The Middle East and India, so residents of the community have an updated and new menu to look forward to once they feel comfortable coming back out. 

The Amber Group has updated its restaurant patios for customers to dine-in, as well as created meal boxes for lunch and dinner which limits the number of contacts for customers and keeps things more hygienic for workers and employees. 

In order to encourage customers to come and enjoy food, there is currently a discount for customers who visit for dine-in or takeout.

“My whole existence for The Amber Group is for the customers; our support from them, their loyalty, and their passion for the food,” Vijay explained. He still goes to work everyday with the same excitement as he did since the beginning of his journey. Working 14 and 15 hour days has not stopped his focus on providing the best experience for his customers. 

An experience dining at Amber India, in all five locations, is an experience you won’t gain anywhere else. With Vijay’s extensive academic background, he definitely knows the quality of cuisine. And with San Francisco serving as a mecca for food, Vijay and his two new chefs are able to get excited and experiment with various Indian dishes.

A dine-in or takeout experience promises to benefit many of the organizations that Vijay and The Amber Group continue to support. Check out Amber India today!

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