.Lotus Life: Surinder ‘Pal’ Sroa of Novato

Surinder Sroa has made Marin somewhat of a destination for authentic Indian cuisine, and “Pal,” as he likes to be called, is often there greeting both loyal and new customers alike.

What do you do?

I’m the founder and owner of the Lotus Family of Restaurants. Our flagship restaurant is Lotus Cuisine of India in downtown San Rafael. We even have an Indian grocery store right next door now. Cafe Lotus is a more casual outpost in Fairfax, and we just opened Salt-N-Pepper to serve up great sandwiches and breakfast.

Where do you live? Novato

How long have you lived in Marin? I moved here from India over 40 years ago.

Where can we find you when you’re not at work?

At the end of a very long day, I just go home to enjoy time with family, especially my grandchild.

If you had to convince someone how awesome Marin is, where would you take them?

On a drive out to Drakes Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore, with a quick pit stop in downtown Fairfax for a bite and a stroll.

What’s one thing Marin is missing?

A vibrant Indian community, as in some other Bay Area counties.

What’s one bit of advice you’d share with your fellow Marinites?

Give it your all, whatever you do. Always aim to give 100%. No, more than 100%!

If you could invite anyone to a special dinner, who would they be?

The people in Marin who cannot afford to eat at our restaurants. In fact, it’s become our Lotus Family Thanksgiving tradition to do that. One year, over 1,000 people showed up; I was glad we did not run out of food!

What is some advice you wish you knew 20 years ago?

I wish I was calmer sometimes. So if you get really angry, sleep on it before you act.

What is something that in 20 years from now will seem cringeworthy?

Looking back at all the things I did in a real rush, I will realize that I should have taken more time in order to avoid big mistakes.

Big question. What is one thing you’d do to change the world? Give the needy a bigger break. I try to lead by example. Those who are well off really need to share more.

Keep up with Sroa and the Lotus Family at lotusrestaurant.com.

Nish Nadaraja was on the founding team at Yelp, serves on the San Anselmo Arts Commission and attempts to play pickleball at Fairfax’s Cañon Club.

4 COMMENTS

  1. The best Indian restaurant in the Bay Area. Pal is an amazing food entrepreneur who consistently over delivers. He is also a wonderful spirit and giving back in so many ways. The food in amazing and his presence just adds to a wonderful experience. We are grateful to know him and be his customer!

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  2. When I lived in Marin, Lotus was always my go to place for the very best Indian food in the county. Pal was generous with his time, was warm and welcoming and would spend a moment or two with us at our table to share a thought or two and would always ask us how we were doing. Lotus Indian Restaurant never disappoints. Highly recommend it!

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  3. Pal and his whole family run an amazing institution in Marin – amazing food at all their restaurants and a fabulous Indian market in downtown San Rafael where you can find any ingredient you need (plus a lot of incredible ready-to-eat fare). They are the most welcoming people in the world. We’re so lucky they make all this available to us.

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  4. I’ve been a customer there for years, always a pleasure to see Pal & his family. During the pandemic, they were moving to the current 4th st. location (ex Pizza Orgasmica), must have spent a fortune on turning it into the palace it now is, but I was amazed that Pal let it be known that nobody had to go hungry – if you were in hard times & couldn’t afford it they would feed you anyway. Generous man, excellent food, best Indian restaurant around.

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