A First Look Inside Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s New Restaurant

Priyanka Chopra Jonas is getting into the restaurant game.

The star signed on to be a creative collaborator in David Rabin (The Lambs Club, Skylark, Café Clover) and entrepreneur Maneesh Goyal’s new restaurant, Sona. Opening on Thursday, Sona will serve modern Indian food in a stylish space in Gramercy. “Sona is the very embodiment of timeless India and the flavours I grew up with,” Chopra Jonas wrote on her Instagram announcing the project.

“I would oftentimes get asked, where’s the Indochine of Indian food in New York, where do you go to have really great Indian food with a cool vibe?” recalls Goyal, who moved to New York City in 1999. “I kept saying, that’s a great question, but there’s no answer to that. Ultimately, I said, well, if there’s not an answer, maybe I should create the answer.”

Goyal’s parents emigrated from Punjab and eventually opened one of Dallas’ first Indian restaurants in 1975, a few months after Goyal was born. Called India House, the restaurant was open through the mid-1980s and the experience stuck with him. “It started to become more apparent to me that the country of my ancestral heritage, if I didn’t try to build a bridge to it, what’s going to be my connection?” says Goyal. “There’s a continuity, there’s a legacy that I would love to be a part of.”

Goyal and Rabin started discussing the project back in 2015, and they soon brought on Chef Hari Nayak—a Daniel Boulud protégé at the helm of Dubai’s Bombay Bungalow and Masti, Bangkok’s Jhol, India’s Alchemy Bangalore, and the chef behind the ubiquitous Café Spice meals in grocery stores—for his first executive chef role at a U.S. restaurant. Interior designer and stylist Melissa Bowers, the former design director for the Miami Beach Faena District’s artistic fantasyland, came on in 2018.

Bowers and Chopra Jonas worked closely on the look and feel of the restaurant. “There’s nobody that personifies global Indian more than Priyanka, and she has broken down boundaries in a way that no one from Bollywood has today,” says Goyal, who met Chopra Jonas through a mutual friend. “Priyanka didn’t want [the design] to be on-the-nose Indian, but she also knew how to make it uniquely Indian in certain ways, and Melissa was interpreting and hearing all of it.”