Iqbal Wahhab: 'I see Mooli's as the Indian Pret A Manger'

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pret a manger, Restaurant, Take-out

Mooli's owner Iqbal Wahhab says the brand has the potential to be an Indian Pret A Manager
Mooli's owner Iqbal Wahhab says the brand has the potential to be an Indian Pret A Manager
Restaurateur Iqbal Wahhab has outlined plans to grow Mooli’s, the Indian street food concept he acquired earlier this year, into a multi-site brand with the ambition of it becoming an ‘Indian Pret A Manger’.

When Wahhab, who owns Roast restaurant in Borough Market, bought Mooli’s in a pre-pack administration in February​ he made no secret of the fact he would be looking to grow the business.  

“The whole point of buying it was to grow it rather than let it remain solely in Soho,” he said. “It has real scale-ability and I can see it being well received in other areas in London and outside."

Launched by former city workers Mathew Chandy and Sam Singh in Soho in 2009, Mooli's has built up a loyal customer base who make regular trips to its base in Frith Street for its fresh filled roti prepared by former Benares chef Raju Rawat. 

Central kitchen

In order to grow the business, Wahhab said he was planning to create a central commercial kitchen which would be used to prepare certain ingredients for the restaurants. 

“It will allow us to repeat the quality from one site to the other without having to employ a chef in each one," he said. "Its core strength will be there and will give us the measure to grow the business.”

Wahhab told BigHospitality he was on the look-out for sites in London for both the kitchen and for restaurants, but could not reveal where they would be or how many he was planning, although it could be into triple figures if he is looking to match Pret A Manger's 295 sites. 

Investor in People

The restaurateur has clear ideas on staffing for his new sites. Having taken on a former in-mate at his restaurant Roast recently​ and with the restaurant achieving a Gold Standard from Investors in People, Wahhab said his aim would be to continue the work by making up 50 per cent of the workforce from ex-offenders and apprentices. 

He added: "It is important to invest in people. We started apprenticeships early on at Roast and have seen many stay with us. I think we are the only independent restaurant to get a Gold Standard from Investors in People and I want to continue that work." 

Wahhab, who runs Mooli's as a separate business to Roast, opened a Roast takeaway at Westfield at the end of 2010​ with plans to roll the concept out if successful. However, he said it had since closed following a trial run. 

"It didn't really work. We gave it a try but it wasn't quite as easy we thought it would be, so we decided to close it and will focus on Roast restaurant and expanding Mooli's." 

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