Indian street food restaurant Chai Pani in downtown Decatur closes for renovations and a “complete overhaul” of the menu beginning Sunday, March 1, a representative tells Eater Atlanta. The restaurant reopens with a Holi party (the Indian festival of colors and spring) on Tuesday, March 10.
Owner chef Meherwan Irani, who is again a James Beard semifinalist for “Best Chef Southeast” this year, did a similar shut down to refresh the original Asheville, North Carolina, location two years ago.
“Really exciting changes in store for the whole look and feel of the restaurant as well as a complete overhaul of the menu with a new structure and new dishes,” the spokesperson says, who declined to provide specifics on the new dishes.
The interior changes include stripping and replacing the floors of the seven-year-old restaurant, along with new furniture, lighting, and artwork.
As for the new menu, Irani and longtime culinary director Daniel Peach plan to offer separate lunch and dinner menus when Chai Pani reopens. Peach spent the last year on sabbatical traveling throughout India. He and Irani have been discussing Chai Pani’s menu revamp since his return.
Lunch features “smaller, more affordable” options, while dinner sees a focus on family-style dishes, including chaats (fried street snacks) and larger entrees. However, the traditional thalis currently on the menu are being removed and all of the curries will become a la carte.
Irani opened Chai Pani along West Ponce De Leon Avenue in the former Watershed space in 2013. The restaurant serves a variety of Indian street snacks, such as bhel puri (tangy and spicy puffed rice topped with crunchy chickpea noodles,) samosas, and okra fries, thali meals, and sandwiches like the Sloppy Jai made with ginger and tomato-infused lamb hash.
In 2018, Irani began a planned expansion of his grilled meats and naan restaurant, Botiwalla. The first location opened four years ago inside the central food hall at Ponce City Market. A second Botiwalla location opened in 2018 at the Alpharetta City Center development. Irani told Eater at the time he was planning to open a third metro Atlanta location of Botiwalla, and as many as eight to ten more locations over the next five years throughout the Southeast.
While Chai Pani focuses on chaat (fried breads, snacks), Botiwalla specializes in sigri (grills from north India for grilling meats and naan.)