An affordable Birmingham eatery

Posted on Front of House Sep 2009 - by Tandoori Magazine
An affordable Birmingham eatery

After last years launch of Lasan Eatery in Birmingham, Jabbar Khan and Akter Islam of the Lasan Restaurant Group, reflect on the establishment’s business model.

With the success of Lassan, our fine dinning restaurant, we knew we would open another restaurant. It made sense to us because with Lasan being in Birmingham city centre, we knew the very loyal custom base we had built up and that these people who were coming to dine with us from the suburbs, were then frequenting their own local restaurants on other evenings.

It seemed like a no-brainer to us that with our brand visibility already high, we should endeavour to launch another site. But it was also a logical step to ensure that being a local restaurant it would have to be on the casual dining end. We didn’t want a setting where our customers felt pressurised to come in all dressed up. We wanted them to come as they are.

It needed to be a place where customers could eat whatever they want without having to worry how much or how little they were going to spend. At Lasan, with up to 85 covers, the spend per head is about £35-£50, while at Lasan Eatery, with up to 60 covers, the spend is between £12 and £20.

The other aspect to this informal and affordable restaurant was going to be the practise of our chefs cooking in an open kitchen environment so that customers could see the cooking and look forward to what they were going to eat. It added an overall entertainment value, as well as forging more trust in what we offer because the whole dining process becomes more transparent.

Most of the popular items from Lasan are at Lasan Eatery, but in terms of how the dishes are presented and their portion sizes, they do differ. Every element of the business model though has to be set against the customer group and market that you are trying to attract. One should never be complacent. Remember, if you are opening a restaurant which differs from the existing one, then treat it differently yet keep in everything you may have learnt at the previous site.

One of the things we have learnt is that if you are going from running a fine dining restaurant to the other side of the spectrum, the temptation unfortunately can be that you want to introduce the same upscale dishes at the latter. You really can’t afford to let yourself be carried away like that, so there has to be an element of selfcensorship in your mindset.

We are very lucky because we have a very good team working for us, both front and back of house, so they know where to draw the line. This has been crucial because so many restaurateurs complain about not being able to get good staff which can be true. However, if you do get people who are loyal to you, and work well, then it’s imperative that you do your utmost to keep them on board by offering incentives and treating them well. That way, when you are going on to launch other sites they will stay with you and can in turn be used to train other personnel.

Our experience with Lasan Eatery has been nothing but positive, and ultimately, the business has had a positive impact on both sites. It has given us a foundation and confidence to be able to move on to more sites in the future.

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