The Shrestha family, with tea industry roots in Nepal, is opening Chiya Chai Café (2770 N. Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square, 612-481-3229) today. The shop will offer 20 varieties of fresh-brewed tea blended with spices ground and mixed in house, along with affordable curry-spiced fare.
Both “chiya” and “chai” mean tea, the first in Nepali, the second in Hindi—reflecting the influence of the two cultures on the concept.
“Tea is the most sold beverage in the street in Nepal and India,” says Nadine Schafer, a partner with her husband Saujanya Shrestha, her brother-in-law Swadesh Shrestha, and his wife Rajee. “We want to bring a new concept to the community … that is all chai tea-focused.”
Unique blends like pink salty Himalayan, blueberry lavender, and dark chocolate spearmint chai will start with tea leaves sourced from Nepal, where the owners’ family has been involved in the tea industry since the 1970s.
The foursome also runs the 10-year-old Nepalese restaurant Namaste Café in Minneapolis, which influenced Chiya Chai’s small menu of savory pies like creamy masala chicken, four momo dumplings (veggie, pork, chicken, and bison), and five curries, such as vegetable Jalfrezi and Madras fish curry. Beverages stronger than tea include local beer, organic wine, cider, or tea-inflected cocktails.
A high-ceilinged space with exposed brick walls, the 100-seat café will offer counter-service ordering seven days a week, with table service starting at 5 p.m. in the back room. Outside, sidewalk seating accommodates 10 to 12.
The team has been testing out its chais and lassis at the Logan Square Farmers Market since May, and Schafer says the neighborhood's denizens seem more than ready to embrace chai.