Acclaimed Houston chef Anita Jaisinghani is closing the Nomad outpost of her all-day casual Indian restaurant Pondicheri, four years after it opened at 15 West 27th Street, between Broadway and Fifth Avenue. The restaurant will serve its last meal tonight but will remain open on Wednesday and Thursday to sell a host of restaurant furnishings including tables, chairs, wine glasses, and even vintage saris.
Jaisinghani’s daughter Ajna Jai — who manages the 100-seat Nomad spot — tells Eater that the restaurant closed because the family wasn’t able to run it the way they wanted to. “It’s been a tough couple of years on our family,” she says. “We’re a mother-daughter team, and if we can’t both be present here all the time, it doesn’t work.”
Jaisinghani will now focus on Pondicheri in Houston, and is working on launching an online shop selling kitchenware, textiles, and spices, Jai tells Eater. In an email shared with Eater, Jaisinghani did not rule out of the possibility of opening a cafe in New York in the future, but there are no concrete plans in place right now.
Following its opening in early 2016, Pondicheri quickly earned a reputation as a unique Indian restaurant with a focus on breakfast and lunch dishes that weren’t available in most other Indian restaurants in the city. Jaisinghani’s cooking stood out in dishes like masala eggs, an Indian take on scrambled eggs; the breakfast frankie, an Indian flatbread wrap with eggs and a cilantro chutney; and its thalis — sampler plates highlighting a variety of Indian regional cooking. In October that year, Pondicheri further cemented its status by earning two stars from Pete Wells in the Times.
Jaisinghani shot to culinary fame with her fine dining restaurant Indika, which opened in Houston in 2001, and earned her a James Beard Award nomination. She left Indika in 2017 to focus on Pondicheri, and will continue to do that along with her planned online business.
Following the sales event at the restaurant on Thursday — which is dubbed Pondi Bazaar — the restaurant will host a dance party starting at 7 p.m. to close out the evening. Over the course of the bazaar, Pondicheri will also serve some snacks from the kitchen.