Botiwalla

675 Ponce De Leon Ave | Atlanta, GA 30308

Botiwalla is chef Meherwan Irani’s homage to his life long love of kababs and Irani Cafes. In his hometown of Ahmednagar, India, his grandfather owned Sarosh Canteen, the only Irani Cafe in town. Irani Cafes were originally tea and kabab houses run by Parsis - Zoroastrians that emigrated from Persia to India in the late 19th and early 20th century (Meherwan’s great-grandfather Sheriar was one of those eponymous immigrants). With a strange and wonderful mash-up of Victorian decor and Indian sensibilities, they catered to the English colonialists’ love of high tea and afternoon snacks. Even after the British left India, Irani Cafes survived, adapting their menus to Indian tastes, serving a unique style of Indo-Persian (Parsi) cuisine and becoming some of the most iconic and revered dining institutions along the way. 

Chai Pani Asheville

22 Battery Park Ave | Asheville, NC 28801

Chai Pani literally means “tea and water.” It's slang in India for going out for a cup of tea, a tasty bite, a snack, or “a little something.” In Downtown Asheville (and now in Downtown Decatur) it means innovative, fun, affordable and delicious Indian cuisine. We'd go so far as to say it's “mindblasting.”

Some of the best food of any country is its street food, and Chai Pani features chaat - crunchy, spicy, sweet, tangy, brightly flavored Indian street snacks. And because there's nothing more comforting and delicious in any culture than a home cooked meal, Chai Pani also brings you thalis - traditional family meals highlighting India's amazing culinary diversity.

MG Road Lounge

19 Wall St | Asheville, NC 28801

MG Road is the basement bar of Chai Pani, located one floor down, with an entrance on Wall Street in downtown Asheville. Designed to be a great place to get a drink while waiting to be sat at Chai Pani, or a great place to have a big night out with some close friends dancing under a complete canopy of electric Bollywood wonderland. MG Road prides itself on getting on the weirder side of Indian culture and on the best side of contemporary cocktails.

Buxton Hall Barbecue

32 Banks Ave | Asheville, NC 28801

It would be difficult to find business partners with backgrounds more different than Elliott Moss and Meherwan Irani. Their partnership hinges on the passion that food invokes: the history it recalls, the techniques it uses, the shared experiences it produces. After meeting at a Blind Pig Supper in 2013, their mutual love of food and Asheville inspired them to team up and open Buxton.

Buxton Hall finally opened in August of 2015, with Moss tending the pits, and Irani bringing his experience as a restauranteur to the operation. Together, they're revitalizing Carolina barbecue history, demonstrating that tradition tastes good. 

  

Chai Pani Decatur

406 W Ponce de Leon Ave | Decatur, GA 30030

Chai Pani can also mean a small bribe just enough to get a bite to eat. Well at Chai Pani Decatur, you won’t have to bribe us for innovative, fun, affordable and delicious Indian cuisine.

Some of the most tasty, fun and affordable food of any country is its street food and Chai Pani features chaat – crunchy, spicy, sweet, tangy, brightly flavored Indian street snacks. And since there is nothing more comforting and delicious in any culture than a home cooked meal, Chai Pani also brings you thalis – traditional family meals highlighting India’s amazing culinary diversity.

Hop in a rickshaw, your home away from home awaits.

Spicewalla 

829 Riverside Drive Asheville, NC 28801

Spicewalla is our brand new spice company just down the road from Chai Pani in Asheville. The sourcing, selection, and blending process is personally curated by the master of spices himself, Meherwan Irani, along with his culinary team led by chef de cuisine, James Grogan. Spicewalla has been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Star Chefs Magazine, Asheville Citizen Times, Edible Asheville, Southern Living, among others. Spicewalla can be found in the kitchens of award winning chefs throughout the country.

H A P P E N I N G S

From fundraisers and film screenings, to festivals and exclusive events, we've always got something exciting and fun going on. 

Click the links below to check out all of the happenings going on each restaurant.

ABOUT US

Food. We like it. Drinks? Oh yeah.

 

It all started with a little chaat house in downtown Asheville. 

From Bombay to Buncombe and Asheville to Atlanta, Chai Pani has extended our love of food, culinary experience, and storytelling to the southeast. The day we opened CHAI PANI ASHEVILLE in 2009 was a testament to will, love and friendship. We ran out of food by midday. As they say, the rest is history ...

In 2012, we opened MG ROAD Bar & Lounge, our stylishly awesome lounge right around the corner from Chai Pani. The team balances technique & tradition with a level of creativity & innovation that’s been written up from Food & Wine Magazine to The Times of India.

We then opened CHAI PANI DECATUR in Decatur, GA in 2013. It has been included in the 'Best Restaurants in Atlanta' list every year it's been open by Atlanta Magazine and Creative Loafing. Pani Puri nights on Fri and Sat are legendary.

Since then, we've added BUXTON HALL BARBECUE, which features wood-smoked, whole-hog barbecue by Chef Elliott Moss in South Slope, Asheville, NC. Low-country curiosities, southern classics, seasonal pies and pastries, local beer, craft cocktails, rotating punches and a daily slushy.

BOTIWALLA is the newest restaurant from Chai Pani and chef Meherwan Irani. Inspired by the tea and kabab houses (known as Irani cafes) of Meherwan's childhood, as well as the grills (sigris) that pop up on the streets of India at night, serving grilled meats and flatbreads to hungry late night commuters, workers and revelers.

SPICEWALLA is our brand new spice company just down the road from Chai Pani in Asheville. The sourcing, selection, and blending process is personally curated by the master of spices himself, Meherwan Irani, along with his culinary team led by chef de cuisine, James Grogan. Spicewalla has been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Star Chefs Magazine, Asheville Citizen Times, Edible Asheville, Southern Living, among others. Spicewalla can be found in the kitchens of award winning chefs throughout the country.

 

 

Get the latest news and updates from our restaurants by following @chaipani, @mgroadlounge,
@chaipanidecatur, @botiwalla,
and @buxtonhall on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 
 

PRESS

Want to know more about us? Who better to ask than the critics. Check out who's been eating where by going to our Press pages:

CREATIVE

At Chai Pani Restaurant Group, we're about more than just the food. We believe in the power of storytelling, of giving our customers more than just a taste of a Vada Pav or South Carolina Hash– we want to transport you to ground zero, show you that part of our childhoods and ancestries.

We do it in small ways, the way we design our menus or layout our spaces, but we go even further. Sometimes stories need more than just one vehicle, and we use our design, social media, and video editing prowess to take these stories and bring them to fruition.


CUTTING CHAI

First shared with the public in March 2016, this one-of-a-kind documentary covers one of the South’s most notable Indian street food concepts as three-time James Beard-nominated chef Meherwan Irani takes his Chai Pani crew through 10 cities in 10 days by trains, planes, and auto-rickshaws, eating everything in sight.


Intimate, funny, touching, and irreverent - Cutting Chai is an explosion of color and sound, immersing viewers in the raw beauty of India’s rural countryside, the opulence of its riches, and the culinary heart and soul of the country and its people.

LIBATION MIGRATION

Libation Migration – MG Road's two month-long initiative to bring visiting bartenders from all over the country (and continent) to pair with local chefs officially ended in October. It was a truly wonderful experience to bring all these great and talented folks to Asheville, and we feel honored to have hosted them. We laughed, we cried, we drank a lot of bourbon.

Check out our videos from the Migration below, and learn how to make some great whiskey cocktails using Bulleit whiskey – our partner throughout the series.

Check out all the videos at our YouTube Channel:


THAT TIME WE HAD TO MAKE AN EPIC COMMERCIAL FOR BOTIWALLA ...

There's nothing like the taste of Botiwalla, to refresh you and give you the strength to face the day. Rejuvenate yourself with Botiwalla shakti! A special ad film from director Daniel Files. Starring Michael Files, Nargis Aniston, and Davyon St.Usaire Special thanks to cinematographer and general hero Eric Barnes for all his help in helping this grand vision come to life.

 
 

THEN THERE'S THAT TIME WHERE WE REVEALED CHAI PANI'S "LITTLE SECRET" ...

 
 

A GLIMPSE INTO THE MISSION THAT DRIVES CHAI PANI ...

 

THE LAST PUNK WOK

 
 

chai pani giving

 
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In July, 2018, Chai Pani Restaurant Group made a long-term commitment to financially support two students in India: Dipali Kadam and Anu Madival. In partnership with the non-profit Dharavi Diary, Chai Pani will offer full university scholarships for girls that cover room and board, transportation costs, university fees, and tutoring.

This partnership came to be through our friends Jennifer MacDonald and Vanessa Bell, who run the Asheville based non-profit HADAYA, a grass-roots organization dedicated to helping refugees and at-risk youth build a better future through the power of books and play.

Chai Pani has been connected to HADAYA for many years, through give-back nights they’ve held at Chai Pani, and other fundraising initiatives. Earlier this year, HADAYA approached us to take on their scholarship commitment to Dipali and Anu, as they refocus their organization, and we couldn’t be more excited.

In fact, Charlotte Stack, our Director of Operations, and Molly Milroy, our Media and Communications Director, had the opportunity to go to Dharavi and meet Nawneet Ranjan, who run the Dharavi Diary non-profit, as well as meet Anu, one of the students who we are now supporting. 

Here's a snippet from their experience in Dharavi: 

“When Charlotte and I walked into the Dharavi slum, we were astounded and saddened. Imagining trying to navigate life in the slum, especially as a child, was heartbreaking.

When we met with Anu, one of the students we support, we talked to her about growing up in in the Dharavi slum. We learned how impossible it is to get ahead, how poverty is cyclical and generational, and how access to education is nearly impossible after a certain age. 50% of girls in India are married before the age of 18, and only 15% of females are employed in the workforce due to lack of qualifications or proper training.

Education is truly the key to independence and long-term security.

When we walked from the Dharavi slum into the Dharavi Diary center, the energy completely shifted. Instead of the intense atmosphere of the slum, it suddenly felt supportive, comforting, and safe. Students were deep in their studies sitting with their tutors. Older kids were helping younger kids figure out math problems. Kids were chatting with us about their next soccer match they were attending with Nawneet. Kids were learning coding and designing auto-cad and apps on donated computers. They were proud, happy, and thriving. You could tell that this was a good thing happening in the midst of the Dharavi slum. The biggest thing that we could sense is that these kids now have the support, encouragement and means to positively alter the trajectory of their lives.

They’ve seen generation upon generation of their families stuck in one place. But because of Nawneet, Dharavi Diary, and Chai Pani, educational opportunities, support, and encouragement are all now within an arm's reach."

Click on the video below to learn more. If you're interested in hosting a fundraising event, supporting additional students, or have other questions please email mollymilroy@chaipani.net

ANSUJA (ANU) MADIVAL

Chai Pani scholarship recipient

Anu is a brilliant fifteen year old girl from the Dharavi slum of Mumbai, India. A few years ago, she lost her father in a road accident and her mother has struggled to keep the family afloat ever since. They live in a tiny 10 by 10 room with no running water or kitchen and only intermittent electricity with their extended family. Anu loves to read stories, is gifted at science and technology and has been internationally recognized for her work developing apps designed to help her community. She has already had a huge positive impact. Chai Pani is helping her go further by funding a full scholarship for University. She is the first person in her family to have this opportunity. 

DIPALI KADAM

Chai Pani scholarship recipient

Dipali is a talented fifteen year old girl, also from the Dharavi neighborhood of Mumbai, India. She is a gifted artist and loves nature and astronomy. She can frequently be found in the Dharavi Community center helping other students with work and encouraging them to do their best. She spends much of her time there, in a large part, because of her difficult home life. Chai Pani is helping her finish High School and University in a boarding environment where she will be safe and able to focus on her studies. Dipali has expressed interest in becoming a teacher and working with children in her community. 

NAWNEET RANJAN

Founder, Dharavi Diary

Nawneet is a documentary filmmaker who uses his storytelling to bring about social change. In 2014, he launched Dharavi Diary: A Slum Innovation Project. The program educates approximately 200 children, and uses technology to create products that ease life for Dharavi residents or inspire advancement in society. For example, girls are learning an increasingly in-demand skill: coding. They are developing mobiles apps that directly address major concerns within the slum, such as lack of a clean water, sanitation, and even sexual assault. They are proving that slum residents are capable of solving critical issues when given the tools and opportunity.

Ansuja, Dipali and Roshani share their impact story. Video credit: Nawneet Ranjan.

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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has"

- margaret meade

We believe that being a part of a community is about giving back, about making a difference, about taking a stand. Chai Pani Giving is about thinking outside the box, about using food, and labor, and love to make a difference to those in need.

 

GIVE BACK WEDNESDAYS:

One Wednesday a month, Chai Pani partners with a local charitable organization to raise awareness for their cause and we donate 10% of that day's sales to the organization.

To learn more, or to submit an organization for consideration, please email: giving back@chaipani.net

 

RECENT BENEFICIARIES:

Showing Up For Racial Justice

Arts for Life

Montford Park Players

Just Us United

Welcome Table

Our Voice

Asheville Catholic School

Asheville Humane Society

Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation

The Church of the Advocate

Feast Asheville

Paws on ASD

Black Mountain College

Brother Wolf Animal Rescue

Francis Delany New School for Children

 
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OUR TEAM

MOLLY IRANI
Hospitality Director & Co-Founder

Molly Irani grew up in the restaurant business. Her parents owned a popular restaurant in the south-east and from as far back as she can remember, Molly has been in and around food, kitchens, cooking, and restaurants. She brings a deep and intuitive understanding of service, hospitality, and customer care to the culture of the teams she helps to build. Her many years of traveling in India and being part of an Indian family infuse her love of the culture and influence the Chai Pani aesthetic and environment. While Molly has worn many hats over the years as co-founder of Chai Pani, her primary role now is Director of Hospitality for the Chai Pani Restaurant Group, though her favorite role will always be the Chai Pani "mom" - delivering hugs and chocolate when most needed. 

 

 

MEHERWAN IRANI
Executive Chef, Chief Chaiwalla & Founder

In 2009, Irani quit his day job in sales to open his first restaurant– Chai Pani, a unique Indian street food joint in downtown Asheville. Whether it was a midlife crisis or a stroke of genius is debatable. In any case, the self-taught chef has now opened his fifth place, with more on the way. With four James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef in the Southeast under his belt, he's finally confident this might be working out. His restaurants have been written up in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ, Food & Wine, Men's Health, USA Today, and Bon Appétit, among others. Not bad for a former salesman. He accredits his business success to the amazing people he works with each day, including his business partner and wife, Molly.

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CHARLOTTE FAHY
VP Executive Operations 

Charlotte joined the team  in 2010 when Chai Pani had yet to expand beyond it's original 40 seat restaurant in downtown Asheville, and pretty much right out of the gate it was apparent she should be running the place. Charlotte keeps everyone in line (even Meherwan!) and on task in a way only she could. In her day-to-day role she oversees the entire restaurant group staff and operations with her signature style of sweetness and accountability. Charlotte has traveled to India her whole life, and dreams of one day returning to do something with kids. She lives on the south side of Asheville, with her husband, 2 dogs, and 1 cat, all of whom give her great joy: Andrew, Bonnie, Doug, and Millard.

MICHAEL FILES
Brand Director

Michael made a life for himself eagerly traveling all over the world before finally being convinced to stay in one place for more than a year– by helping open a little restaurant called Chai Pani. He initially joined up with Meherwan and Molly Irani in 2009 under the guise of finalizing a logo for Chai Pani, and has since gone on to do every job there is in the restaurant business, even helping to open every restaurant in the Chai Pani Restaurant Group. Having worked at a top contemporary art gallery in Mumbai, Michael has a long-standing deep love and connection to India that comes through in his design of the Chai Pani spaces. His work also focuses on communicating the mission of bringing Indian street food to the US audience, very often through various forms of art and video that seek to capture that unique and irreverent Indian spirit.

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ISAAC CLAY
VP Restaurant Operations

In 2009, Meherwan, a high-end real estate salesman with no experience in the restaurant industry, somehow convinced a young school teacher named Isaac to invest his life savings in the idea of opening an Indian street food restaurant in a small mountain town in the South. Crazy as that seemed back then, things seem to be working out OK for the both of them. Isaac has traveled to India his whole life and has a deep love for Indian food and its people. Prior to helping open Chai Pani, he spent years leading groups of gap-year students on long and immersive journeys to India. Isaac is admired by his staff for his gracious leadership and "island of calm" sensibility, even in the face of all the madness the restaurant world can throw at you.

KADY BROTHERTON
Financial Director

Kady formally joined the Chai Pani team in 2015, but has been a part of the family for quite some time. Since coming on board, Kady has been hugely instrumental in helping the group to expand and keep an unfathomable amount of balls successfully juggled in the air at any given time. Kady originally comes from sunny Florida, but has since grown quite fond of her adopted mountain town of Asheville. She lives in a quaint but chic house in the country that she renovated with her boyfriend James (pictured below). Together they enjoy Blue Ridge mountain sunsets, gardening, their two dog-children, a couple of horse neigh-bors, and a glass of bubbly or two. 

DANIEL PEACH
Chef de Cuisine (Botiwalla)

Most people who meet him would say there's no one quite like Daniel Peach. He's blond-haired, blue-eyed, but basically an Indian at his core. Daniel moved to Asheville when he was 19 and was one of the first four people hired to open the kitchen at Chai Pani Asheville more than six years ago. Driven by a love for the food, people, and spirituality of India, Daniel has traveled on his own to India for long stints multiple times. In the process, he's taught himself to read and write Hindi, and cooked in scores of home kitchens. Daniel headed up the opening of the kitchen at Chai Pani Decatur, and continues to earn accolades for the food his diverse team of cooks produces. 

JAMES GROGAN
Spicewalla Operations Director 

James first fell in love with cooking when he moved to Boone, NC to study accounting at ASU. He found himself with a job at a little family restaurant named Pepper's. He was so hooked that he changed careers and the trajectory of his life. From there he got a job as a dishwasher at the fine dining Crestwood restaurant, and within two years worked his way up to sous chef. In Asheville, fate and Chai Pani's good fortune landed him in 20 hours of interviews for the soon to open restaurant. He was finally hired as one of only 4 kitchen members. Now, as the Chef de Cuisine, he oversees a staff of 20. Since the Cutting Chai trip, he continued to venture to India on his own to keep his street food chops up. And, more importantly, he still loves waking up at 7am to cook daal.

ELLIOTT MOSS
Chef/Pit Master - Partner (Buxton Hall Barbecue)

Elliott Moss is a son of the low country of South Carolina. The rich characters, humble attitude, and low country cuisine he grew up with very much influence his approach to cooking today. Having paid his dues for years in the food industry, it was a move to Asheville to helm the kitchen at The Admiral that brought him regional and national attention as one of the most acclaimed chefs in the area, earning rave reviews from The New York Times, GQ Magazine, Food & Wine Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Conde Nast, and many more regional & national publications. He was nominated for the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Southeast” in 2013 during his stint at the Admiral, and continues to garner accolades now that he's opened his dream restaurant, Buxton Hall Barbecue, with the Chai Pani Restaurant Group. 

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MOLLY MILROY
Media and Communications Director

Molly joined Chai Pani Restaurant Group in summer of 2017 and she couldn't be happier! Prior to her work at Chai Pani, Molly worked primarily in the nonprofit world, both locally and internationally. At CPRG, you'll find her chatting it up with media over a cup of chai and chaat, photographing the latest dishes for social media, writing internal newsletters to keep employees in the loop on all the fun happenings at CPRG, planning events, and wrangling Meherwan's fun and crazy ideas into reality. Molly lives in West Asheville, with her fiancé, Daniel, and her labradoodle-mutt, Arlo. 

CONTACT US

Our offices are located at 26 Battery Park Avenue, suite 22. If you would like to visit us, but cannot find us, feel welcome to inquire with a representative at our restaurant next door, Chai Pani.

 

26 Battery Park Ave
Suite 200
Downtown Asheville
North Carolina, 28801

(828) 232-7112
 

Need to get in touch with someone? We're happy to help.
Just contact us at the addresses below:

GENERAL INQUIRIES
Not sure who to talk to?
info@chaipani.net

PRESS & MEDIA
Any questions regarding press coverage?
mediainquiries@chaipani.net

Looking for employment opportunities? Visit our JOBS PAGE, where you can find applications to our restaurants.

Brown in the south

The next Brown in the South, Holi Grail, is coming to Garland and Kings in Raleigh, NC, March 24th! Stay tuned for more details.

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Brown in the South is a new series of collaborative dinners featuring celebrated indian chefs, Meherwan Irani, Vishwesh Bhatt, Maneet Chauhan, Asha Gomez, and Cheetie Kumar, all who live and cook in the American South. 

The very first one was held at Chai Pani Decatur on January 14th, 2018. Check out our snaps from the night here. 

We've vowed to continue these dinners all over the Southeast, and we're keeping that promise to ya. 

To stay up to date on future Brown in the South events, fill out the form below, and we'll keep you posted. 

Read the Atlanta Magazine article about the first Brown in the South event here. 

Subscribe to our mailing list

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Hello, World!

 
 
 

CPRG 2019 INDIA trip

In January, 2019, we sent four of our dear employees on a 10-day, street-food eating, mind-blasting food tour of India, led by our VP of Operations and India-expert Isaac Clay. This has been a dream of Chai Pani's ever since they opened their doors nine years ago.

The trip was offered to all of our employees (110+ people) and those who were interested in being selected wrote an essay on why they were interested in traveling to India on how they thought it would change their experience working for Chai Pani Restaurant Group. We had a selection committee thoughtfully who choose the four. See their reactions to being chosen here, and read all about them below!

Special thanks to LifeSaver Bottles, PROBAR, Diamond Brand, and Murphy's Naturals for their in-kind donations. Because of you the crew was drinking clean water, eating delicious bars, carrying supplies in style, and fending off the bugs with great spray.

 

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Isaac Clay - Trip Leader & VP of Chai Pani Restaurant Group Restaurant Operation

What is your role within CPRG and how long have you been with the company? I've been with the company since day one. Meherwan approached me and asked if I wanted to be involved and I jumped at the chance. I currently serve as Director of Operations. I support the GMs in the various restaurants and help develop systems that increase sales, support our teams, and grow our concepts.

How many times have you been to India? Seven

When did you start going and what led you there in the first place? I went first with my dad and my sisters. My parents went to India in the 70's for spiritual reasons, and my dad took us to the same places they went. I don't remember much of that first trip, but I went back again when I was 18 and 20 to spend some time there on my own.

You’ve taken groups to India before outside of CPRG. Can you tell us a little bit about past trips that you’ve led? I used to work for a gap year program that took college age students on trips all over the world. I served as a group leader, which was a combination of tour guide, mentor, and teacher. The India trips attracted a certain type of student:  spiritually curious, more introspective. The groups I led were made of super sweet young people with huge hearts. We would be in India for three months, and would travel to 7-8 different cities and towns where we would take classes, do volunteer work, and dive in to local culture. The trips were transformative for most of the participants and it was a great privilege to be a part of that experience.

What are you most excited to show them? Everything!  The food, the culture, the sensory overload.

What are some of the challenges of leading a group there? It's so incredibly different from day-to-day life in the states that it can be overwhelming. The juxtapositions can be disorienting and challenging to reconcile:  there is incredible beauty and atrocious pollution, there are ancient cultures that are also totally modern, there's incredible richness of spirit and devastating poverty. It's important to be aware of these things before arriving, and to leave judgement at home. India can teach so much but one has to have an open mind and heart.

How do you think this will change the groups experiences working in the restaurant when they return? I think they'll have a deeper appreciation and respect for the food.  I think they will understand more fully just why so many of us (Mikey, Meherwan, Charlotte, James, Daniel....) get so pumped when we talk about India.  They'll understand more just how special Chai Pani is and how much our love for India infuses everything we do. I think they'll be more curious and engaged when interacting with Indian customers, and i think they'll be inspired to cook new dishes!

Do you know any of the attendants? If so, why are you excited for them to go on this trip? I'm really pumped for Gavin and Sheila, who both have worked in Chai Pani kitchens for years. Although the food is exotic, after a while one can get bored making the same things day in and day out . I hope they get inspired to dig deeper into what Indian cuisine can offer and that their passion grows and infects the people they work alongside with.  

Andy and Geneva both work in the front of house and have never left the states. I think this is going to really impact them. They'll really see just what we are doing at Chai Pani and Botiwalla and will be able to share their excitement and experience with customers.


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GENEVA MOORE - Front of the house - Botiwalla

What is your position at Chai Pani or Botiwalla, and how long have you been with the company? I have been a part of the Botiwalla crew since opening day, so a little over 2 years. I work FOH mainly as cashier where I answer questions take orders and greet folks. I also run food make drinks and make sure the restaurant is always running smoothly and customers always leave super satisfied.

What do you hope to learn/what are you looking forward to on your first trip to India? This will be my first trip to India and since we will be traveling to a few different regions of India I am very excited to experience the various street food and holy temples. I am sure food in Northern India is very different from the food on the coast of Mumbai and I am very excited to learn about what sets the food apart first hand. Serving street food in Atlanta is exciting and folks love when you let them know the backstory on where the dishes come from, I look forward to learning about the kabobs, puris, bhel and much more and relaying that to our customers!

What kind of food are you most excited to try? I am excited to try a little bit of everything. However if I had to choose it would be traditional Indian desserts. It’s been a while since I have tried Gulab Jamun and Mawa Jalebi is always so delicious. I am also excited to try all of the dishes that we serve at Botiwalla such as the kabobs and the fresh Puris. Since we will be going to Mumbai I would love to try an Indian fish fry and seafood.

Is there anything that feels intimidating or challenging about the trip? I have a 3-year-old son and this will be my first time leaving him so I have to find a way when possible to call or video chat with him. We will be doing a lot of traveling so I have to come prepared with the necessary items to feel comfy. I always drink tea in the morning and night so I want to make sure I have a water warmer and teas and ginger for my travels. Also I don’t speak Hindi so I want to make sure I know the basics so I will feel more comfortable and be able to communicate with some of the locals.

Why did you apply/ why do you want to go? I feel like going to India will give me a first hand experience of the diverse cuisine and culture that India offers. India is such a holy place and the food is so exciting so I knew this would be a great opportunity to learn about why Chai Pani and Botiwalla are such unique concepts and why everyone loves the food!

How did you feel when you found out that you are going? I found out I was going to India on my Birthday so it was an amazing gift. I am very grateful and excited for the trip and look forward to the experience. I am also such a nature gal so traveling around India via train excites me!

How do you think this will change your working experience at Chai Pani? I love talking to folks and getting to know people and working FOH at Botiwalla that is what is needed since it can get very busy. I lived in Chicago and I am from Oakland CA so I am well exposed to different culture and people, so I can relate to different folks. I’ve just never had the chance to travel abroad and this opportunity will allow me to come back with knowledge to share with coworkers and customers.

What did your family/partner/best friend think when you told them the news? Everyone in my family was so super excited and wanting to know the details of when and where, especially my husband and parents. Opportunities like this don’t happen all the time so they were pleasantly surprised and very supportive.


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ANDY LOEBS - Front of the house - Chai Pani Asheville

What is your position at Chai Pani or Botiwalla, and how long have you been with the company? Server at Chai Pani, started working at Chai Pani in May 2016.

What do you hope to learn/ what are you looking forward to on your first trip to India? Hoping to learn more about the culture, food, music, history, etc. of India! Looking forward to eating as much as I can, traveling by train, all the new smells, all of the colors, and hopefully hearing some music!

What kind of food are you most excited to try? I am really looking forward to trying all of the dishes that we serve here, and trying as much as i can of food that i wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else! Some dishes i would love to eat on my trip would be: Vada Pav, Misal Pav, Aloo Tikki Chaat, to name a few!

Is there anything that feels intimidating or challenging about the trip? Yes! The entire experience feels very intimidating to me, as someone who has only left the country once before, but I know I’m in good hands with Isaac as our guide! :-)

Why did you apply/ why do you want to go? I applied because of how rare opportunities like this are! I’ve never heard of a restaurant sending their employees anywhere especially to another country! I’m beyond grateful for this opportunity and feel super lucky to be a part of this trip!!

How did you feel when you found out that you are going? I felt so lucky and special! Couldn’t keep the tears from flowing!

How do you think this will change your working experience at Chai Pani? It will give so much context to my job and the way that i present this food! As a white person serving Indian food I want to be mindful of the culture I am representing, hoping that my perspective from this trip will help me to preserve the authenticity that Chai Pani aims for!

What did your family/partner/best friend think when you told them the news? They were all so supportive and excited! My partner got me balloons to congratulate me!


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GAVIN WALLACE- Kitchen Manager - Chai Pani Asheville

What is your position at Chai Pani or Botiwalla, and how long have you been with the company? I have been working for Chai Pani for almost four and a half years. I started as a prep cook and now my current position is Kitchen Manager. 

What do you hope to learn/looking forward to? On my first trip to India I would like to learn why Chai Pani is regarded as one of the top Indian restaurants in the region. I have had guests tell me Chai Pani reminds them of home. I want to know what home is and why our food can take them back, even for just a brief moment.

What kind of food are you most excited to try? I would love to try everything while I'm in India. I can't wait see food vendors on the streets and I also want to taste any type of chicken curry. To me, chicken tikka masala is what most Americans reference when they say "Indian curry"; I now know that chicken tikka masala was created in Great Britain. I would also like to see our Butter Chicken Curry get a run for its money!

Is there anything that feels intimidating or challenging about the trip? The only thing I am intimidated by is the population. Asheville is the largest city I have lived in, and I haven't traveled to larger city in a long, long, time.

Why did you apply/why do you want to go? When the amazing company you work for offers up a chance to go abroad and learn, you take it.

How did you feel when you found out you were going? It has taken a long time for this trip to set in for me. After being chosen, I still didn't feel like it was happening until I held my passport in my hands. Now it is all I can think about!

How do you think this will change your working experience at Chai Pani? When arriving back from India, I have a feeling my level of excellence for our food will change. I will want to do more, be more creative, and see if I can inspire employees to think and talk about our food.

What did your family/partner/best friend think when you told them the news? Everyone was blown away! I learned about getting the trip hours before a show so the bandmates and I cheers'd right before going on stage.


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SHEILA OLSZAWSKI - Cook - Chai Pani Decatur

What is your position at Chai Pani or Botiwalla, and how long have you been with the company? I am a cook at Chai Pani, I have with been with Chai Pani for 4.5 years. :)

What do you hope to learn/ what are you looking forward to on your first trip to India? I hope to learn more about the food, as I hope it will give me a better understanding of Indian food, an understanding that will improve my cooking abilities, and that will help me contribute even more to the impressively high quality and deliciousness of all the wonderful food that I help to cook at Chai Pani. I look forward to everything on my trip to India.

What kind of food are you most excited to try? ALL OF IT!!!!!!!!! :)

Is there anything that feels intimidating or challenging about the trip? Nope, I'm completely ready for this wonderful journey.

Why did you apply/ why do you want to go? I have always had a deep longing to go to India one day. ALWAYS.

How did you feel when you found out that you are going? Honored, thankful, grateful, and greatly appreciative.

How do you think this will change your working experience at Chai Pani? I will hopefully be a better cook, with an even deeper passion and understanding of India and of Indian food.

What did your family/partner/best friend think when you told them the news? My children thought it was wonderful. They know how much of an affinity I have for Indian culture and of Indian food. :)