Innovation lies at the heart of Curry Leaf Cafe

Innovation lies at the heart of Curry Leaf Cafe

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak's popular Eat Out To Help Out scheme may be set for a wrap on Bank Holiday Monday, but its great success in reviving the hospitality sector from the coronavirus

means many restaurants plan to carry on the spirit of discount well beyond the government-backed support. 'iGlobal' carries on with its own special series celebrating Indian cuisine and will continue to explore new and interesting venues as they step into the new normal for the world of dining out. Hailed as one of Britain's 12 Best Indian Restaurants by the 'BBC Good Food' magazine,

is an award-winning restaurant serving South Indian street food, curries, and craft beer in two dining spots in the city of Brighton.

Vibrant colours

The restaurant, which was launched in 2004 and also features in the 'Waitrose Good Food Guide 2016-2020', is run is by Co-Founder and Commercial Director Euan Sey, Head Chef Gouranga Bera and Operations Manager Stewart Cumming. Its journey began when Sey, then a journalist, was looking for a career change. “Indian food has always been my first love of food ever since I was a child. My birthday treat every year was going to an Indian restaurant, the whole sharing mentality and the vibrant colours and smells had a big impact on me as a small child,” he recalls. As fate would have it, Sey's flatmate (who is no longer part of the business) also had a passion for food and soon the pair decided to partner together to open up Curry Leaf Cafe. “The whole idea was focusing on South Indian food, which we felt was under-represented in the UK and Brighton at the time - our specialty being South

food, craft beer, and a street food focus. We opened up in April 2014, with a small menu of six starters and six main courses, and a wide range of craft beers that complement the flavours of the region,” he said.

Distinctive and innovative

Since its inception, Curry Leaf Cafe has stood out as distinctive - from its menu, service, and cuisines. The restaurant believes in keeping innovation at the heart of everything it does. So, when lockdown approached, the restaurant already had a plan in place, with its new refrigerated delivery van service. Sey said: “In the run-up to March this year, we were able to see lockdown was pretty much happening. We were among the first of restaurants to react at such speed and launched the service two days before lockdown. “In the first month we served around a thousand people and that was only just delivering around the area. We slowly expanded out into other areas, and have now gone national.”

Evolution project

Delivering restaurant-quality Indian meals right to your door, the Curry Leaf at Home service also offers a 10 per cent discount for the

and is available for free delivery across Sussex. The selling points are that the meals are ideal for freezing, stay fresh for at least three days and a collection option is also available. While being closed for an in-house dining experience during the lockdown, Sey explains: “We were open the entire time of the lockdown through Deliveroo deliveries and direct delivery of chilled food. People were still able to enjoy and order our food the entire time.” The restaurant is now fully up and running with safety measures in place, including a complete change of layout of the restaurant. Sey said: “We've spaced out the tables to ensure the one-metre rule can be carried out, all staff wear face masks and there is also a hand sanitising station. It's an evolution project, we are constantly strategising. “Originally, we were only opening from Wednesdays to Sunday, so our idea of mitigating the risks is to not throw too much cost at it. Staff is a very large part of the cost base, and we felt like that was the way to limit exposure to heavy losses.”

Food that travels

Sey believes that eating out is going to increasingly become a treat and for Curry Leaf Cafe he believes there is a clear brand proposition. He said: “We're well-positioned in the market. We will adapt our model and push more towards the take-away and home cooking side. We will do whatever is needed. “From our perspective, I believe we are well-positioned as a brand for the new normal as our food travels well. We feel the takeaway and home delivery options are always going to be stronger for us than perhaps for many. So even if things do take a turn for the worse, people are always going to want a treat.”

by Preeti Bali

*More from 'iGlobal' Eat Out to Help Out Series

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