A star of the Capitol region is coming to Church Street

The husband and wife team behind Tara Kitchen, a local chain of Moroccan restaurants that started in Schenectady in 2009 and has garnered nationwide acclaim, has taken the space at 253 Church between Leonard and Franklin, the former Kori, which closed in 2018. They are aiming for a December opening. (I’ll note that this stretch of Church has a lot of potential as a restaurant row, with Anejo, File Gumbo Bar, Petrarca, Two Hands, despite recent closings.)

Chef Aneesa Waheed and her husband, Muntasim Shoaib, run four locations of Tara Kitchen, which specializes in traditional tagine cooking along with some fusion twists: think shepherd’s pie with Moroccan spices and fig jam or cabbage rolls in a tagine. The menu is extensive: 30 dishes that are all cooked in a tagine. “That’s what sets us apart,” said Aneesa.

Aneesa is from India and moved to Schenectady as a teenager; Muntasim is from Pakistan. But they met as adults in Morocco in 2006 — she was on vacation and he was there for work. A couple years later, after 12 years in the magazine publishing industry, she was ready to leave the corporate world and try something new but financially, it was too daunting to try it here in the city. So they made the leap to the Capitol region. Tara Tribeca will be their fifth location. (She also released a cookbook in June and has a line of jarred sauces and marinades.)

“When we decided to get into food about 13 years ago, we wanted to do something unique and started dabbling in Moroccan cuisine,” Aneesa said. “As a couple, that is our common country.” She is the executive chef and manages the menus and the staff; he manages the finances and the real estate, since they own most of their properties. The couple has two children, 10 and 11.

For the past year they have been looking for a space in the city — Aneesa estimates they looked at something close to 80 — since they have always wanted to get back here eventually. (She never gave up her apartment.) The goal is to open five NYC locations in the next two years, but they were hoping to plant the first pin here.

“I am so in love with Tribeca. I wanted a sense of community,” she said. “I like being in places where people come home and want to stay local for dinner. But what I really loved is how well it is situated in downtown — access to the commercial daytime activity as well as a really thriving residential community for the nights.”

And if all goes as planned, they will be open by the holidays. “We make plans and God laughs, but that’s the goal right now.”



  1. What a great addition to the neighborhood !

  2. We are beyond thrilled to join the community fabric of Tribeca ❤️

    • As a former resident of Tribeca who now lives in the Capital Region and has enjoyed all three of your local restaurants – I applaud this great news. Tribeca is indeed a community and more often than not, we stayed in Tribeca when we wanted to eat out. What a great addition you will be! Wishing you much success and look forward to stopping by for a delicious meal when you open!!

    • Exciting! Welcome to the neighborhood

  3. Wonderful news! We shall be there opening week.

    We’re still smarting from the loss of Miriam’s; great to have another high quality MENA option in the neighborhood.

  4. How exciting!
    welcome neighbor!

  5. Congratulations, Aneesa- you are amazing! As a Schenectady resident who loves your restaurant here, I’m excited for Tribeca!

  6. Congratulations and best wishes on your new addition!