Chifafa, a new restaurant that invites its customers to "forget what they know" about kebabs, is set to open in Clerkenwell today.
Directors Nick Green and Matthew Kershaw co-founded the venture with the aim of offering up fresh and healthy versions of the handheld meal which they said has for too long had a bad reputation.
Green told The Caterer: "A lot of people hear the word ‘kebab' and it immediately conjures up negative connotations. It doesn't have to be like. When you think of the ingredients of meat, salad and bread, there's no reason it can't be a healthier proposition. We're trying to make kebabs synonymous with eating well."
The pair first came up with the idea three years ago after seeing the popularity of a kebab kiosk in Berlin. They spent a year doing research followed by two years in product development to create an offer that would appeal to today's time-poor but quality-conscious consumers.
The menu includes five kebabs, with three meat and two vegetarian options: slow-cooked lamb shoulder with feta, mango pickle and dill tahini yoghurt; chicken thighs marinated with lemon and garlic; and ethical British veal shoulder with fresh mint and dill tzatziki; falafel; and halloumi.
Chifafa is the first hospitality venture for Green and Kershaw, who previously worked in the media. In order to finance the project, the business partner put in half of the cash needed while the remaining funds were sourced from a number of angel investors, including Ben Maschler. The restaurant's general manager Alison Walsingham was previously an operations manager for PizzaExpress.
Located opposite the Zetter hotel in Clerkenwell, Chifafa was designed by Russell Sage, whose past projects include Grain Store, Social Eating House and Petrus for Gordon Ramsay. It can accommodate 20 to 25 eat-in diners, but around 70% of the trade is expected to be takeaway.
To celebrate its launch today (28 November 2014), Chifafa is giving away 500 free kebabs to the first 250 customers at both lunch and dinner time.
Co-founders Nick Green and Matthew Kershaw