A restaurateur, who has been a staple on Eat Streat since its inception, and his business partners are taking over the popular dining precinct, adding a fourth eatery to their growing profile.
Ray Singh, owner of Indian Star, and his business partners Sid Saluja and Lucky Gulati, who operate Wholly Smoked and Mac's Steakhouse, not only have a passion for food but also a vision for Eat Streat.
They believe the dining strip is the best in the country and want to make it as dynamic and diverse as possible.
That is why they jumped at the chance to take over the property that previously housed Papa Tazio, spending about $300,000 renovating and rebranding it to Urban Gusto.
"The previous owner had held that property for more than 10 years and it was one of the more quiet restaurants on Eat Streat. The owner was ready to retire so the landlord approached me before putting the property out to market," Singh said.
"With the opportunity there for the taking, my business partners and I decided to take it on with the intention of turning it into one of the busiest restaurants in the area."
The Italian-Kiwi fusion restaurant opened last Tuesday, after Covid-19 and the nationwide lockdown set back their plans by about four months.
"We took over in February and had planned to open on Easter Weekend and then we went into lockdown," Singh said.
"The lockdown did present a dilemma as to whether we should be investing all this money at this time but we approached it as we do with everything - with a positive mindset.
"People at the time told us we were crazy and that we would lose all our money, that it wouldn't work out but we weren't put off. We knew it was the right time and we weren't going to look back."
Saluja said establishing a new Italian restaurant had its challenges but like all their eateries, the partners did extensive research into the cuisine, exploring ways to make it fresh, new and inviting.
"We wanted to keep aspects of traditional Italian cuisine but also do something new. So we're delivering Italian with a fresh, Kiwi twist.
"We're not Italian so we had to do a lot of research, we made sure we got expert advice because we wanted to do it right.
"Even our drinks list was created with fusion in mind. We have a mix of New Zealand and Italian wines, traditional cocktails and cocktails that are a little different."
Saluja said he had always admired Singh and his vast experience and knowledge in the hospitality sector. He was confident a business partnership would prove fruitful.
And he hasn't been wrong.
Between their four restaurants, the partners employ about 70 staff and have invested millions in buying and renovating the properties.
"We want Eat Streat to be on everyone's to-do list. Rotorua is the best tourist destination and Eat Streat is a part of that," Saluja said.
Singh said with the right passion and determination, anything was possible.
"I put 110 per cent into everything I do. I am always looking to be above 100 per cent."
When asked whether Singh and his partners had always planned to take over Eat Streat, the seasoned restaurateur laughed.
"That certainly wasn't our plan. When Eat Streat was started and I was one of the first businesses there, we didn't know whether it was going to work.
"As the street has become more popular, more business opportunities have arisen. I love Eat Streat, it is unique, there is no other place like it in New Zealand.
"Its reputation has helped the restaurants here bounce back after lockdown because people know if they want to eat out in Rotorua, they go to Eat Streat. Eat Streat is a hub."
Saluja said while they were not actively looking to establish another restaurant on Eat Streat, they were not opposed to setting up more should the opportunity arise.
"I think Eat Streat is looking good at the moment but there is always room for more diversity. A Mexican fusion restaurant would be a good addition.
"We don't ever want to be stuck in one boat, we are always willing to try something new."