Lucky No. 7

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Chimney Indian Kitchen + Bar, Chapel Hill’s seventh Indian restaurant, transformed its space and created a menu unique to its neighboring businesses

By Hannah Lee | Photography by Carolina Stamey

Srikanth Reddy accomplished quite a feat when he took over the former Vespa restaurant, which was unoccupied for almost two-and-a-half years. He transformed it into an artistic haven worthy of any Pinterest board. 

Dining room in Chimney Indian Kitchen + Bar on West Franklin StreetThe newly opened Chimney Indian Kitchen + Bar’s owner and chef, who owned the now-shuttered Indian Palace on West Franklin Street, missed the fun spirit of Chapel Hill and wanted to create something much more special than his last endeavor. 

“We wanted to come back to Chapel Hill,” he says. “[But] we couldn’t find the right spot. We had been looking for over two years. We did a lot of scouting and everything, and then Vespa left. Everybody came and looked at the spot, but nobody could do anything with it. Because I do construction myself – I own a construction company – I took it on myself and did the whole project.”

With the help of an architect, he knocked down the walls and took the once narrow, dark Vespa and lightened it up with more windows and walking space. He also painted over the bright blue walls with a creamy white hue. For those of you who patronized Vespa, I offer this analogy: walking into Chimney was like expecting to visit the fair, but going to Disney World instead.

Bookshelves at Chimney Indian Kitchen + Bar

It was clear that creating a space welcoming to the community was important to Srikanth. Everything needed to be original, including the menu and the recipes – a much different take than his fast-casual Indian restaurant in Research Triangle Park called Thali Indian Cuisine.

“All the interior design was done by our own team,” he says. “We have designed the menu. We created the recipes to go well with the clientele. But it’s more about diversity, not just clientele. We wanted to make sure that all of our cuisines are good for everybody.”

Tandoori Jeera Wings at Chimney Indian Kitchen + Bar

Take the Tandoor Jeera Wings. Inspired by bar food, Srikanth wanted to put his own twist on the popular American appetizer. His wings, baked and tossed in cumin with chilli and cardamom, achieve that complex Indian flavor, but in a healthy way – without the usual grease and oil one might find on wings.

Chat Pata Fries at Chimney Indian Kitchen + BarOther common Indian dishes for customers looking familiar favorites include tikka masala, tandoori chicken, samosas and garlic naan that melts in your mouth. But for those looking to branch out and try new, unique dishes, well, there’s plenty of that, too, like the lobster pepper masala (who knew you could have lobster in curry?) and chat pata fries.

I could go on, but really, you should just go and give it a try.

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Chapel Hill Magazine is a 8-times-a-year lifestyle magazine dedicated to bringing you the very best of Chapel Hill. Our magazine places high emphasis on food and dining coverage, the arts, and community.

About Us

Chapel Hill Magazine is a 8-times-a-year lifestyle magazine dedicated to bringing you the very best of Chapel Hill. Our magazine places high emphasis on food and dining coverage, the arts, and community.

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Hannah Lee

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