Chai Pani closes Jan. 29 for a monthlong revamp, adds new pop-up
Chai Pani in downtown Asheville is a popular little spot. So it's no surprise that, after the better part of a decade of serving Indian street food to the masses, it's time for some updates.
The bad news? That means Chai Pani will close for a month to accommodate a sprucing up, starting Jan. 29.
"We're ripping every wall out and reconfiguring where everything is," said owner Meherwan Irani, adding that the kitchens will be renovated and the bathrooms moved and updated. An open stairwell will provide access to Irani's cocktail bar, MG Road, a floor below. "It's such a full remodel."
The good news? When the restaurant reopens March 1, it will have a new look and a refreshed focus on cocktails.
"The bar at Chai Pani Decatur, kind of like Buxton Hall, functions like a real bar — the cocktail program is amazing," Irani said. "We've never really thought of ourselves as having a cocktail program (at Chai Pani Asheville), but now we will."
There's more good news for Chai Pani fans: Chotta Chai Pani, a three-week pop-up, will be open through February in a space adjacent to the new Riverside Drive spice factory, Spicewalla, so diners can get their chaat fix.
“In India, ‘chotta’ means small, so ‘Chotta Chai Pani’ is our version of a more slimmed-down, quick-serve menu,” said brand and creative director Michael Files, in a press release.
He added that serving the menu in what is essentially a warehouse space will lend to the feel of discovering a sort of "secret underground market."
The pop-up will focus on mainstay favorites and additions from MG Road and Botiwalla, the Chai Pani Restaurant Group's new food-stall venture in Atlanta's Ponce City Market.
Find dishes like Pav Bhaji, sweet hand pies from Buxton Hall’s lead pastry chef Ashley Capps and more, as well as the return of the beloved Kheema Pav, a spiced minced-meat dish served over soft buns.
The temporary venture's proximity to Spicewalla, Chai Pani's small-batch Indian spice roastery, means a fragrant entrance. It also means diners can score tins of spices throughout the duration of the pop-up.
Chotta Chai Pani also enables staff to stay employed during the long break.
"When we started to understand the length of our closure, our first thoughts were of our employees,” said regional general manager Isaac Clay.
Missing a month of work isn't possible for most, he added. For those who also can't miss a month of Chai Pani food, your fix can be found at RAMP Studios.
IF YOU GO
When: Chotta Chai Pani will open daily, noon-8 p.m., Feb 1- 21.
Where: 829 Riverside Drive, Suite 112. More at http://www.chaipaniasheville.com/chottachaipani.
More important dates: Chai Pani will be closed for renovations from Jan. 29-Feb. 28, and will reopen for business March 1.
MG Road will be closed for the week of Jan. 29-Feb. 5. Food service will not be available at MG Road until Chai Pani reopens.