The Chai Cart is temporarily closed and we will be back in action soon! Keep checking our website for updates.
Until then you can support The Chai Cart and its staff by purchasing a e-Gift Card for yourself or a loved one!
We can’t wait to be back and serving you a warm cup of chai again!
Since our start in 2015, The Chai Cart There provides a product and an experience that transcends cultures and exemplifies our interconnected global world. Unlike the busy atmosphere of cafes, our sidewalk carts feel open and approachable. Our friendly chaiwallas are ready to engage in conversation while serving you a hearty, warm and delicious cup of chai.
The Chai Cart, founded by Paawan Kothari, has its roots in San Francisco’s street food culture. Paawan grew up in India and came to the US in the mid-nineties to pursue a degree in technology, however she gave up her computer science work for her true passion...food.
Paawan writes about how it all started:
In the summer of 2009, while I was employed as a marketing manager at IBM, I decided to become a tea vendor. That summer, an underground street-food movement started to grow and gain popularity in San Francisco. I wanted to recreate some old memories from my experience in India where chai is the fabric of social life. Pulling a bicycle trailer, I started peddling homemade chai in my neighborhood in San Francisco.
It initially started as a hobby: something I did on weekends. Customers kept coming back for more as the warmth and the aroma of the chai was in turn igniting fond memories for them. To some it rekindled memories of their travels. To others it reminded them of Christmas, of home. Nothing had been more fulfilling to me than to hear customers say that the chai made their day.
So, I quit my job and transformed the bicycle trailer into a sidewalk cart.
I enjoyed the art of bringing together different herbs and spices and delicately balancing their flavors to create the perfect cup of chai every time. It brings me great pleasure to share a part of my culture and give a taste of the traditional chai that’s enjoyed every day across India.
In 2018, Paawan sold The Chai Cart to San Francisco’s Premium Chai company - David Rio. Since then David Rio has expanded The Chai Cart offerings to a foodservice program with Google, catering services for local San Francisco offices and Bay Area deliveries to cafes and at home.