A Masterchef’s Decade Old Reign
Director and executive chef Yogesh Datta of The Painted Heron, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and Bangalore Express, talks to Humayun Hussain about his career and restaurants.
Akbar’s the renowned West Yorkshire group has launched its first café. Owner Shabir Hussain talks to Tandoori
With the seventh site under his belt, Shabir Hussain, owner of the Akbar’s group of restaurants, is looking forward the opening of his biggest branch to date, the 14,000 sq ft, 350 cover restaurant in Birmingham.
The scheduled opening is for April 2009, it would have been sooner, but what with the lighting and some of the tiling being imported from overseas, sourcing can take time. Besides, Hussain has his hands full at the moment. He’s secured a site of just over 6,000 sq ft in the centre of Newcastle for yet another Akbar’s, with a projected opening towards the end of 2009. Though for now, he’s seeing how his latest venture is performing.
Akbar’s Café was originally opened to take in the overflow from the existing Akbar’s in Bradford though another reason was that as some traditionally inclined customers do not like eating in a licensed premises where alcohol would be served, they would be happy to be accommodated here, considering the site is unlicensed.
“We are focussing on a casual type of eaterie,” says Hussain. “We have a menu which offers the typical karahi-style dishes, along with items like quiche, grilled fish, pasta and so on, but with an Asian slant where we have some spicing in them. But what we also have are traditional English cakes, pastries and desserts.
It’s worked out very well. The café has a capacity of 150 covers and though it’s open from 12 mid-day to 12 at midnight, it’s amazing how good our lunchtime trade is. We are also getting a very mixed crowd, with both Asian and non-Asian customers.”
Hussain is already negotiating for yet another café site in Manchester.
“Our brand name is getting ever stronger,” he notes, “and touch wood, even in this economic climate, we have been doing very well. It just means that I’m able to continue realising my dream of being the first Asian national chain of restaurants and hope to open in Scotland and London at some point.”