I got the sad news this week that a friend and ally, and all around lovely human, Jyoti Friedland, had passed last weekend. My experience with Jyoti was that she was a mother of sorts of the vegan/vegetarian community here in Charlotte, so today felt like a good day to share her story with y'all, as well as a few memories.
I first met Jyoti the month I moved to Charlotte from NYC - Jyoti was hosting vegetarian/vegan gatherings through Meetup, and the first one I attended was at the now-closed Mediterranean Deli off of Independence. Jyoti was so warm! And welcoming. Had lots of questions about where I came from and why I was here, and had so much advice for me on where to get good spices and great Indian food. She loved Woodlands, and so did I! What a lovely thing that she would come to buy that restaurant years later and make it her own. Jyoti's restaurantwould continue to make the best Paper Masala Dosa in town, alongside 135 additional menu items (unbelievable!) ranging all the way from an Oyster Mushroom Po'boy to Kimbap. Truly the largest menu a vegan/vegetarian restaurant in CLT has ever had, and a testament to the love and joy Jyoti took in food and all of its forms.
Jyoti was the type of person that held so much joy that she inspired it in others. A great encourager of adventure and community involvement, she was hungry for life in a way that inspires you to take that trip! Try that business idea! Make that painting! Just fabulous, life-living energy. And the most magical thing was that she always had that energy in her pocket for her customers, random encounters at Chefstore, Rotary meetings, you name it. This woman had a deep pool to pour from and I will miss her greatly.
Before she and husband Marc purchased Woodlands in 2018 and transformed it into Jyoti's, they had owned another enterprise pivotal to Charlotte's vegan/vegetarian scene - Talley's Green Grocery. This store helped to launch Juli's (from Living Kitchen) career in raw food, supported Chef Ami (from Muuraw) in his launch as well, and hosted many vegetarian and vegan friendly brands, entrepreneurs and supplies before they were readily available in the Queen City, A special place, if a bit ahead of its time.
So cheers to you Jyoti and the way your joy trickled out into the lives of all that knew you. And thank you for your heartfelt work making Charlotte a more delicious, internationally aware, veg-friendly community. You will be missed!