Aab Bexley Under New Ownership as Khaab Indian Kitchen & Bar
Under new ownership, Aab India in Bexley has undergone a transformation. The restaurant at 2400 E. Main St. is now known as Khaab Indian Kitchen & Bar.
Owner Dalbir Mavi is hoping to make the transition an easy, and welcome, one for Bexley diners. Khaab will keep Aab’s menu, but refocus on the quality of its North Indian cuisine.
“I know people love the current menu and flavors,” Mavi says. “We are keeping the base menu the same and will continue to work hard to improve the quality of the food without changing the original recipes.”
Mavi says that improvement really comes by focusing on each individual ingredient and how it’s treated.
The restaurant was known for its large menu, and that’s something Mavi might look to streamline in the future, but for now he’s focused on keeping familiar favorites accessible as he learns what is most popular with diners.
While the menu will be similar, there is plenty of new to find in the Khaab experience.
The cocktail menu has several new additions, inspired by upscale Indian eateries across the country. Khaab offers a cocktail list of several classics with Indian twists of flavor. What imbibers won’t find on the list is mango drink after mango drink.
“Indian is more than just curries and mango,” Mavi says. “We really want to challenge your taste buds.”
Take the Saffron Manhattan, for example. It features bourbon or rye with sweet vermouth, saffron syrup and Angostura bitters. Or the Khaab Smoked Old Fashioned – a marriage of Amrut Indian Single Malt, fresh orange juice and Luxardo molasses with dashes of cardamom bitters and Jamaican bitters. Mavi is also working on expanding Khaab’s bourbon and scotch lists.
The interior of the restaurant has received a refresh as well. While the space will still receive some finishing touches, Mavi was focused on creating a comfortable, enjoyable experience outside of the food. Changes come in the form of new seating, paint and softer lighting. The music videos are gone, traded for one projector playing old movies. The bar has a more upscale feel and a wine wall. Punjabi royalty is the theme.
Mavi is introducing Bexley to the new brand after taking ownership of the restaurant in April of 2020. It’s his first venture into the food and beverage industry, but it’s a space he’s always had interest in.
A self-described foodie, Mavi loves exploring and experiencing new restaurants, especially when traveling. And when it came to Aab, he had a personal connection.
Mavi was childhood friends with Aab owner Avtar Singh’s son, Sobha. After Sobha passed away in 2017, the family became interested in offloading the Bexley location, which had opened in 2015, as Mavi said balancing both locations had become difficult.
Plans for Mavi to buy the business were in the works pre-pandemic. As both parties watched the dining world come to a halt in mid-March 2020, Mavi ultimately decided he still wanted to pursue the opportunity. While he knew it would no doubt be a tough year, he had faith in the business the Singhs had built, and the local community of diners.
Overall it’s an experience reflected in the new name. Khaab means dream in the Punjabi language.
Mavi did have a grace period in making some updates to the restaurant given the pandemic, and it gave him time to better learn the business, especially as his normal job as a DJ had slowed down.
As the new owner, Mavi looks to improve upon what Abb had built, focusing on an elegant ambiance that matches the food, and a continual focus on customer service.
Khaab Indian Bar & Kitchen has lunch hours Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and is open for dinner from 5 – 9:30 p.m. Saturday hours are 12 – 3 p.m. and 5 – 9:30 p.m. Sunday Khaab is open from 12 – 9 p.m.
Happy hour runs from 5 – 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, with a variety of drink specials and half of appetizers with the purchase of an entree. The buffet tradition will continue as well on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (although a server will make a diner’s plate during COVID times).
For more information, visit khaabofcolumbus.com.
All photos by Susan Post