Asma Khan has taken on the former Carluccio's site in Seven Dials for her Darjeeling Express restaurant, which will expand into a 120-cover dining room, deli and incubator for female talent in hospitality.
Khan, who originally opened the 56-cover Darjeeling Express in Kingly Court off the West End's Carnaby Street, with an all-female brigade of self-taught chefs in 2017, told The Caterer she was "absolutely thrilled".
The restaurateur had been looking for a larger site before the Covid-19 pandemic struck but had struggled to find a suitable space. She praised Covent Garden landlord Capco for "rising above their difficulties" and deciding to "help someone like me and give me this opportunity".
She added: "I think people need to be brave and unafraid to push and open sites and get in where maybe they felt they were excluded or not part of that exclusive club. You can do it and I think it is possible to try and think bigger and use this time to reflect creatively."
The deli space will offer nostalgic dishes inspired by the Indian railway food of the 1980s and 1990s, incorporating regional specialities. The dining room will offer three tasting menus from Wednesdays to Saturdays.
Khan will take on the entire ground floor of the site, incorporating a mentoring school into the space, to help achieve her aim of promoting women in the industry. She added: "Change will not happen from bottom up, we have seen a more diverse workforce, but it remains powerless the only way change will happen is when women are in positions of power and I want to raise that generation of women so that they can lead. I'm very excited, this is a moment and is going to be an incubator for the future of London's restaurant businesses."
The restaurant will open in October.
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