London's the Cinnamon Club is getting ready to celebrate a decade of fine-dining Indian cuisine. Owner Vivek Singh spoke to Janie Stamford about how the business has grown over the last 10 years.
What prompted you to open a fine-dining Indian restaurant?
I had been cooking in India for about eight years and I wanted to push the boundaries of the cuisine; be more innovative. No matter how great the cuisine is, if you fail to continuously evolve you will be left behind and I was keen to introduce a fine-dining experience that people may not have had before.
It was only when we launched the Cinnamon Club that we realised how successful the concept was.
How did it come to be housed in the former Westminster library?
The restaurant's co-founder, Iqbal Wahhab, came across it and was very keen to use it. With admirable persistence, he managed to secure a 10-minute meeting with the landlord and successfully convinced them that we could make the building famous.
Was there any difficulty in transforming such a historic building into a restaurant?
The building is Grade II-listed, so we had to liaise with Westminster planning and English Heritage over where to house the air conditioning unit. We also wanted to put the kitchen on the main floor, but it had to go into the basement, creating a few operational issues that we have had to overcome.
It was certainly difficult, but with such a beautiful setting it was absolutely worth it.
How has trade been in Westminster?
The location isn't great as it's in the middle of a restaurant desert. Many people said we would be busy at lunch but have no dinner trade but the combination of our food, experience and setting turned the Cinnamon Club into a destination restaurant.
We have over 300 covers in for dinner on a Saturday and close to that on a Friday night, too. We have made it work very well.
How has the restaurant evolved in the last 10 years?
In essence it has remained the same in terms of our values: quality; seasonality; innovation; seamless service. As the years have gone by it's a far more assured product. One of the most defining points is that it's also constantly evolving; we still push boundaries and refuse to sit on our laurels.
www.cinnamonclub.com for more details