Written by Emily Glaser | Photos by Anthony Harden or Courtesy Chai Pani Restaurant Group
Meherwan and Molly Irani have already become Asheville’s preeminent restaurateurs – now they’re poised to take over supermarket shelves.
There are not crowds in Asheville in February.
In July our rivers teem with bikini clad floaters and the broad yards of breweries are covered in the footprints of tourists. In October peepers whirl through the city’s streets in a tumult that echoes the swirling piles of leaves they’ve come to see. Even December finds droves of visitors seduced by that particular alchemy of Christmastime in the mountains.
But in February, that month when winter feels most dense and grey, crowds are absent—with one notable exception.
The lunch crowd at Chai Pani on a brisk Friday afternoon is thunderous and as diverse as the dishes on which they’re munching: a duo of suit-clad ladies on lunch break; a ranging family of teens and toddlers; a gaggle of bridesmaids just arrived in the city; and a couple of Chai Pani’s employees satisfying their hankering for the restaurant’s Indian street food on their day off. To their voices is added the clink of forks on metal dishes, the slurp of creamy tea, the dry swish of winter jackets being stripped in the restaurant’s intimate warmth. The door swings open and closed, open and closed, allowing a steady stream of new customers and the day’s stiff breeze.
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