It all started with a cup of chai. Or the desire for one, at least.
Three years ago this month, Anita Trehan was walking along Water Street, in the financial district, when she had a craving for “a nice cup of chai,” she said.
But Ms. Trehan is from India, and she wanted an authentic chai — the kind brewed with aromatic, spiced black tea made smooth with milk — “not that watered-down chai latte,” she said dismissively. And it was nowhere to be found.
That’s how Ms. Trehan, 57, who has had several careers (in hospitality, travel, philanthropy), landed on her latest one: restaurateur. And how she happened to leave the 30th-floor apartment on Broad Street that she was sharing with her daughter, Sonia, now 23, to move into a late-19th-century brownstone in Harlem, where she could open a restaurant specializing in chai (with Indian-inspired foods like samosas, fire-roasted breads and grilled meats served on the side).
Chaiwali, as she is calling it, will be on the bottom two floors of the four-story building on Lenox Avenue near 124th Street,. Her new home, where she lives with Diego Balarezo, 49, the contractor who did the work on the building and is her romantic partner, is on the top two floors.