Sep 21, 2023 - News

An acclaimed Raleigh chef is bringing her Indian food to downtown Durham

Cheeni Indian Food Emporium in North Raleigh. Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios

After clinching a James Beard nomination earlier this year, Preeti Waas is bringing Cheeni Indian Food Emporium to downtown Durham.

Driving the news: Cheeni, which opened in North Raleigh last year, could open as soon as next month in the space that formerly housed Jack Tar diner on Corcoran Street.

  • Waas tells Axios she had no plans to open another location, but that space was attractive due to its beautifully designed dining room and spacious, already-equipped kitchen.

Why it matters: The expansion will give one of the Triangle's best chefs a larger kitchen to work with, significantly expanding the types of dishes Cheeni can serve.

Details: Waas says the menu will focus on the Indian regions of Tamil Nadu (where Waas was born), Kerala, West Bengal as well as the Punjabi food traditions of her family.

  • The menu will also include whatever dishes the kitchen might be inspired to make that day, with Waas noting she wants to demonstrate that Indian cuisine is incredibly diverse and changes from city to city.
  • The Durham restaurant will feature table service. (The cafe-style Raleigh location offers counter service.)
  • Waas anticipates serving breakfast, lunch and dinner most days. It will be closed Wednesdays and will only offer brunch on Sundays.

What we're watching: The Jack Tar space is also notable for having a separate bar tucked behind the kitchen, which was previously called the Colonel's Daughter.

  • Waas said she plans to add her own bar there called Bar Beej, which will expand Cheeni's existing cocktail program.

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