MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Diya Sunset Harbour is a family-owned and operated restaurant where chemistry and cuisine blend perfectly.

“I’m actually a research scientist by day and also the executive chef here so I’ve got my plate full,” said owner Vidya Maharaj.

As an epidemiologist, Vidya combines her knowledge of traditional Indian cuisine with the healing ingredients of modern vegetarian food.

“We try to promote a lot of immune-boosting spices in our food. There’s a lot of scientific publications about the benefits of Indian food and we try our best to give our customers the freshest of ingredients and the most beneficial to their body,” said Maharaj.

Everything is made in house with an emphasis on the health benefits of Indian spices.

“One of the main spices we use in all of our foods is turmeric. It actually decreases inflammation and boosts the immune system, so that is one of our main spices we have in all of our dishes,” she explained.

Maharaj opened Diya Sunset Harbour in January. By February business was booming. Soon after that, she knew what we’d all be facing.

“As an epidemiologist, I knew what was coming and it was like ‘oh no, this is happening’. So with my background, we went into emergency operating kind of mode,” she said.

That included every aspect of her business. The staff not only wear masks but face shields as well.

“This is important because we have to think about their exposure because when diners sit down to eat and they take their masks off, our waiters can be possibly exposed. What we do is we ensure everyone around us feels safe,” said Maharaj.

“We try to also do a lot of touchless contacts. So on our doors, we have the foot pole where you pull the door with your feet. We have also implemented touchless codes where you can actually use the menus through your phone,” she added.

Maharaj said she’s blessed to have knowledge she can use for both of her jobs. As for Diya, the restaurant has ample outside dining space and she said she hopes that the community will continue to support local restaurants.

“Giving support to these restaurants is really the only thing that can help right now get us to the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s going out and supporting your restaurants in your community,” she said

Diya Sunset Harbour is open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m for outside dining and takeout.

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Lisa Petrillo