Issues with a developer have seen Michelin-starred chef Aktar Islam close Legna a year after opening the Italian small plates restaurant in Birmingham.
Islam had opened the restaurant opposite his Michelin-starred Indian venue Opheem at the end of 2018, but, despite commercial success, the chef said escalating costs associated with the development left with little choice but to close the doors.
He told The Caterer: “The concept worked well. It was quite unique in the space when it comes to Italian food in Birmingham. It traded well, but the location suffered from a lot of issues.
“We had roadworks that came right up to the door, the brickwork attached to the building was collapsing and that caused us issue. We’ve had issues with the developer who doubled the service charge without any real consultation or added value.
“We were also looking at large additional charges being put on commercial tenants in the development in the coming year. Rather than dealing with that, we’ve decided to focus on the two new restaurants we’re launching this year and we’ll also look to find an additional location for Legna.”
Islam will open the first restaurant under new Argentinian concept Pulperia at the beginning of February in the city’s Brindley Place, with a second site, which will have its own distinct feel, planned to open in Edgbaston in September. The openings have created opportunities for those employed at Legna to move across venues.
On top of this he has collaborated with Sam and Emma Morgan, the owners of Craft Dining Rooms in the city, advising on the opening of the the Craft English Garden restaurant and bar.
As well as expanding his portfolio of Birmingham restaurants, Islam is also planning to open a hotel, which will join Opheem on the city’s Summer Row. He has plans for the development to create 46-52 bedrooms, but it is still in the planning process.
Islam said: “We’ve got loads going on and it’s very positive given the general feel of the country, we’ve just got to keep it working.
“Birmingham is a city I’m heavily invested in, not only because I’m a Brummie, but because I personally feel it’s a great city and has a lot of potential.”