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Cheetie Kumar and Paul Siler bringing bold Middle Eastern eats to Five Points.
Photos by Baxter Miller
Bring on the next delicious chapter! Slated to open this spring—and bringing a culinary respite to the Five Points district—is Ajja (the Hindi/Urdu word for “come over”), the newest concept from star chef Cheetie Kumar and partner Paul Siler. Located adjacent to Anisette Sweet Shop and feat. a sprawling covered patio and outdoor bar with DTR views for days, Ajja will serve up equal parts inviting atmosphere and mouthwatering Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare.
Raleigh Magazine chatted with Kumar about the resto, the inspo and what might be next for that Garland space.
What inspired you to make the move to Five Points?
Our operation at Martin Street was three spaces with three businesses Paul and I operated—two of which have finally reopened for the first time since the pandemic in the last few months. Neptunes is being operated by Martin and Erin Wheeler, and we are excited to pass the baton to them. It’s also been so amazing to see Kings evolving into a community space with several stewards guiding its next steps. With Garland, we needed a new start.
Any plans for the OG Garland space?
Once things are more settled, we will figure out what’s next for that space. We still hold the lease on the building. (Stay tuned!)
Why the leap to Middle Eastern/Mediterranean cuisine?
Garland explored many regions of Asia, including the Middle East. With Ajja, we are excited to focus on just the region of West Asia and beyond. That part of the world has a rich story to tell about spices and the migration of foodways. With Ajja’s menu, we will continue to work with NC growers, farmers and purveyors in a vibrant indoor/outdoor neighborhood restaurant.
Why Five Points?
Five Points provided a great real estate opportunity that revealed itself early during the pandemic and we had to take it.
The inspo for Ajja?
Like many of my chef peers, I draw inspiration from all restaurants and great dining experiences.
How is your new spot upping the ante on the Raleigh restaurant scene?
Ajja’s intimate building footprint, paired with an expansive outdoor seating area, will be a surprise and delight. The outdoor space will have a great impact on the restaurant itself and help inform the vibe of the overall experience. And people might not realize that the outdoor space offers an amazing view of Downtown—we are less than 2 miles away with a clear shot of the skyline.
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