In 2009, Irani quit his day job in sales to open his first restaurant– Chai Pani, an authentic Indian street food joint in downtown Asheville.
Whether it was a midlife crisis or a stroke of genius is debatable. In any case, the self-taught chef is now opening his fifth location. With two James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef in the Southeast under his belt, he's finally confident this might be working out.
His restaurants have been written up in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ, Food & Wine, Men's Health, USA Today, and Bon Appetit, among others. Not bad for a former salesman – although his mother who still lives in India is not impressed.
He accredits his business success to the amazing team he works with each day, including his business partner and wife, Molly.
So much of Buxton Hall Barbecue was inspired by the venue chosen for the job: the old Standard Paper Sales Company building at 32 Banks Ave in the South Slope.
It's an enormous, historic space that once served as a wood-floored roller rink in the 1930s, a boat show room before that, and various auto shops that had witnessed history in the making.
"The building has an iconic look and feel, with amazing history," Irani noted. "It's at once welcoming and grand, faded with time and the texture and patina of almost 80 years worth of history."
Their hope is for Buxton to celebrate the South Slope's history, paying respect to the heritage of the area.