Speaking to BigHospitality’s sister title Restaurant magazine, Alex and Saiphin Moore also outlined plans for a Thai food import business which would eventually supply Saiphin’s Kitchen-branded products to supermarkets.
The pair’s Covent Garden-based Lao Café is the first restaurant in London to exclusively serve Laotian food and has been a hit with the Asian market. “We’re starting to see a more mixed demographic now. We could certainly open some more at some point,” says Saiphin, whose family are originally from Laos.
The Moore’s upcoming noodle shop will be loosely based on a business a teenage Saiphin ran from her house in Thailand. Such is the popularity of Thai food and East Asian food more generally the pair believe there is a gap in the market for more specialist Thai food concepts. “We’re a few years off westerners eating noodles for breakfast but I think we will eventually follow Asia’s lead,” says Alex. “Japanese noodle restaurants have got the market ready. There is definitely room for a Thai concept.”
The Thai food import business will build on the supply lines that Saiphin has already set up for Rosa’s Thai Cafe. “We don’t really use any of the big Thai brands,” she explains. “We’re currently flying in 400kg of fresh curry paste a week from southern Thailand. The prices are comparable to buying branded products in but the quality is far higher and there’s also a big benefit to the communities that make these products because we’re trading direct.”
Her supermarket range is likely to include Thai staples such as fresh curry pastes, palm sugar, rice noodles, fish sauce, soy sauce and rice.
Rosa’s Thai Café began life in 2006 as a market stall on London’s Brick Lane. The Moore’s recently appointed Grant Thornton to lead a sale of a significant stake in the business, which is thought to be valued in excess of £25m. The group is expected to open its first regional site early next year after signing heads of terms on a premises in Liverpool’s Albert Dock area.
A full interview with the Moore’s can be found in the October issue of Restaurant magazine, the leading title for the UK’s restaurant industry. For more features, comments, interviews and in-depth analysis of the restaurant sector subscribe to Restaurant magazine here.