Two business partners who hail from the state of Gujarat, India, left longtime corporate careers to open a community grocery store, at Interstate 77 Exit 33, whose shelves are filled with Indian foods and spices.
Yogi Cash & Carry opened Feb. 8 at 871-A Williamson Road.
The store sells fresh Indian vegetables, various brands and styles of rice and flour, whole and split beans and raw and ready-to-cook spices. Spices alone line five long shelves in the store.
Yogi carries Indian oils, teas, coffees, sodas, soaps, pickles, yogurts, curries, chutney and naans, as well as Indian cookware. The store also has a large selection of Indian snacks and breakfast items.
Virtually all the food is vegetarian, and 80percent to 85percent is vegan, said owners Ajay Patel and Nilesh Patel (no relation). Only a small corner of the store's gigantic cooler-freezer section offers frozen lamb, chicken and beef selections.
Yogi also sells Indian jewelry and such religious items as sandalwood and sandalwood powder for morning prayers.
The Patels also own the nearby Citgo station on Williamson Road.
Ajay Patel was a research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry for 24 years, most recently in Massachusetts. Nilesh Patel was research and development manager at Tyco Safety Products in Monroe.
They are also both active in the community. Ajay Patel is former president of the Bhartiya Association of Lake Norman and is still active in the nonprofit Indian cultural group. Nilesh Patel is a leader of a Hindu temple in Matthews.
Both were born in Gujarat, on the west coast of India, but didn't know each other; the connection is that Ajay grew up with Shashi Patel, Nilesh's wife.
Ajay Patel, who lives in The Point community along Brawley School Road at Lake Norman, smiled when he recalled how the business started.
He said his wife, Shilpa, was concerned about how to store $3,000 in food in their home each time they drove elsewhere in the region to stock up. Why not open a grocery to store all of this food? she suggested.
Yogi Cash & Carry: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; 704-360-2438; e-mail at email@example.com; major credit cards accepted.
People's Choice winners announced
MOORESVILLE Local chefs helped raise $1,800 Feb. 27 for Serenity House, an end-of-life care home at Interstate 77 Exit 33.
Chefs from eight restaurants and caterers participated in a Best Soup contest at Hilton Garden Inn. The event drew about 260 guests.
The 2011 People's Choice soup award went to the roasted tomato bisque by Shane Smith of A Tasteful Solution.
Jeffrey's Restaurant took second place with its chicken corn chowder, and Subway's broccoli cheese entry was third.