Apr 12, 2023 - Food and Drink

Cheetie Kumar to open new Raleigh restaurant Ajja this spring

The Ajja team, from left, Paul Siler, Cheetie Kumar, Gaëlle Laforest, Lindsay Ogden and Chris Gamble. Photo: Baxter Miller

Acclaimed Raleigh chef Cheetie Kumar's next restaurant will be called Ajja and will open in the coming weeks in Five Points.

Driving the news: The restaurant's name comes from the Urdu word for "come over" and will combine the cooking traditions of the Middle East, Mediterranean and Southwest Asia.

  • Kumar is opening the restaurant with partner Paul Siler. Garland veterans Gaëlle Laforest and Lindsay Ogden will also come on board.

Why it matters: Garland was one of the standouts of the Triangle's dining scene, combining Indian and Asian cuisines with a Southern flair in downtown Raleigh.

  • Just months before closing Garland, Kumar had been nominated for a James Beard award.

With Ajja, Kumar will trade downtown for the intimate confines of a neighborhood joint.

  • Kumar told Axios in December her next move would be to open a restaurant in the same building as Anisette Sweet Shop, at 209 Bickett Blvd.
  • The restaurant is small (just 1,800 square feet) but will feature an expansive outdoor patio, fire pit and skyline views.

Details: The menu will be built around herbaceous spices and shareable dishes, including skewered meats and vegetables, according to Kumar and her co-chef Chris Gamble, previously of Garland, Poole'side Pies and the now-closed Night Kitchen.

  • Laforest and Ogden will design a global wine list and a cocktail menu meant to play off the flavors from the kitchen. It will include alcohol-free beverages.

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