It’s the street food way

Posted on In Focus Mar 2012 - by Tandoori Magazine
It’s the street food way

What made you want to open Roti Chai as an all-day Indian street kitchen?  

As a child I visited India every year and the highlight for me was always the food - whether it was home-cooked feasts at big family get togethers or the wonderful street food across the country. It’s a passion for that food that inspired Roti Chai.
 
What made you want to open in the area you are in and not say in the suburbs for instance?   
When it comes to choosing a site, I always go with gut feel. I saw a lot of sites across London before deciding on Portman Mews South which just felt right. It was really a case of the right space to create the kind of restaurant I wanted Roti Chai to be.  
 
You appear to have two dining concepts – the more formal downstairs and the more casual “street food” upstairs. Please differentiate between the two.
The Street Kitchen has a very casual feel and guests are happy to pop in any time of day for a quick bite or a more substantial meal. The Dining Room downstairs is still relaxed but the menu is a little more serious with more complex dishes which need days to prepare.
 
How would you describe the cooking style at Roti Chai?
Our food is honest and the cooking considered and precise. 
  
What was the initial investment you made to launch the restaurant?  
In total the investment has been in the region of £2.0m.
 
What is the cost per head of dining at Roti Chai (upstairs and downstairs)? 
It does vary considerably from guest to guest, but roughly speaking I’d say around £15 - £20 in the Street Kitchen and £30 - £40 in the Dining Room.  
 
What are your best-selling dishes?  
A tough one to call as every guest seems to have their favourite, especially in the Street Kitchen. In the Dining Room, it is the classics of butter chicken and seekh kebab.
 
How many staff does Roti Chai employ? 
40. 
  
What makes Roti Chai such a success?
I’d say it’s a little too early for us to be judged a success but it is certainly encouraging to have had so much positive feedback since we launched a few months ago.
 
What has been the one key business decision that you have taken in launching Roti Chai?
A good number of people whose judgement I trust suggested that the timing of our launch may not be ideal given the tough economic climate. I had to take the leap of faith that all restaurateurs do and believe that the timing is always right if you have the right idea. 
 
What does the future hold for Roti Chai?
Obviously we are looking to build on our first few months and to evolve our menu over time. We have also already had quite a bit of interest from overseas including from New York, Europe and even India and it would be very exciting to launch another Roti Chai. 
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