Wales: East Bar & Restaurant

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Caerphilly Road, Cardiff Fifteen months ago, beer with Indian food took on a new meaning in Cardiff when East Bar & Restaurant opened, replacing...

Caerphilly Road, Cardiff

Fifteen months ago, beer with Indian food took on a new meaning in Cardiff when East Bar & Restaurant opened, replacing a bikers' pub formerly known as the Cross Inn.

East Bar is the brainchild of partners, solicitor Javid Rafiq, restaurateur Mohammed Mujib and businessman Saqib Siddique. Javid explains the reasoning behind the trio investing nearly £750,000 in the venture: "Traditionally, people would go to a pub for a few drinks before heading off to an Indian restaurant. They would then be booted out as soon as they finished their meal because the table was required for other customers and they would have nowhere to go. We decided to combine the two because nobody else in Cardiff was doing anything quite like it."

The trio visited two similar operations, one in Birmingham and the other in London, before being convinced the concept was right. A number of other potential sites were looked at, but Javid says the Avebury Inns' outlet was ideal. "Although it is a listed building, it was a complete and utter dive. It had significant car parking facilities and had a presence." He adds with a laugh: "After all, it is located in the middle of a traffic island on a main road into the city centre."

For over six months, the venue was closed as workers refashioned the interior. They created: a stylish 70-seat no-smoking restaurant area; a suite that caters for diners that want to smoke; an executive lounge that can be hired out for private functions or used by drinkers who want peace and quiet; and a large bar dedicated primarily to drinkers.

Authentic Indian cuisine based on Tandoori, Balti and Haandi dishes are the mainstay of East Bar's food offering and takeaway meals have been added to increase customer pulling power.

Javid says: "I think we were surprised how spectacularly it took off. We were almost the victims of our own success because we couldn't manage it.

"Trade zoomed up. Then zoomed down. But we have tweaked it again and again, and we are now up to decent trading levels, although it will be sometime next year before we reach the target that we originally set ourselves."

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