As Red Hot World Buffet gears up to open its biggest site yet later this month, in Nottingham, director Helen Dhaliwal tells Neil Gerrard about the business and plans for the future
What is the story of Red Hot World Buffet so far?
We started the first unit in Nottingham back in 2004. In the Indian restaurant business that we had previously, we knew that on the Sundays and Mondays things were quiet and we used to display an Indian buffet, which was really popular.
When that business was sold, my late brother-in-law went on to work for Oriental Restaurant Group and we kind of used his knowledge. We always knew that Chinese buffets were very busy and very popular, so we thought one day, why don't we combine the two together.
The original site opened in Nottingham. What is different about the new Nottingham site? The original site was around 7,000 sq ft, whereas the new one is almost 27,000 sq ft. It doesn't feel like it is that big because there are different levels to the unit.
We are hoping to seat about 400 people in the beginning, although we can accommodate a lot more. But it doesn't feel like you are sitting in a huge hall because there are so many little areas, divided by style of cuisine. There is one area that will look very much like an Oriental section, and there is also an Indian section. We are hoping to open the doors to the public on 25 January.
How hard do you find it to control food costs with so many different ingredients? Because we buy in such high volumes, we are able to pass that benefit onto our customers and we have suppliers from local areas as well who we work alongside to help people. They are very keen to give us good prices to keep the business. We give our head chefs a budget and tell them they have to stick to it, but without compromising on quality.
Is it correct that your aim is to get to 25 sites? We are hoping over the next three years to open a further 15 units, which will give us a total of 22 including the original seven that we have, but if we exceed the business plan and get to 25 units, that would be great.
How are you financing the growth? Do you have private equity backers on board?