FOR restaurant group Dishoom’s co-founder Shamil Thakrar, the joy of food has always been a constant in his life – both in business and on the family kitchen table.
Dishoom, Thakrar’s brainchild, is UK’s most successful Indian restaurant group that has long been credited for giving diners an alternative to the classic curry house, offering a higher quality Indian dining experience at an affordable price point. Since opening its first Covent Garden spot in London, Dishoom now has eight restaurants in England and a ninth in Edinburgh.
Inspired by old Irani cafes which were popular in 19th century Mumbai, Thakrar makes sure that each Dishoom restaurant has an intricate detail and design concept with its own back-story. Has Dishoom’s popularity surprised Thakrar? “Yes, it has,” Thakrar, who attended Harvard Business School in 1999, laughs. “You just go along and do stuff, and hopefully, people will like it, and you have to go with that. You have to be focused on the work that you have to do and do right by the team, and you’ll receive some measure of success.”
Charity is also important to Thakrar. During the height of the coronavirus crisis, the team worked tirelessly to contribute what they could to those in need. When actors Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis launched their FeedNHS campaign, Dishoom was one of the restaurant groups that answered the call. The Dishoom kitchens in Kensington cooked meals for NHS employees at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.
Thakrar believes his father, Rashmi Thakrar, who passed away in 2016, would have approved of his son’s attempt to help the NHS. His father had come from Uganda at the time of the Asian expulsions in 1972, and created the Tilda brand with its focus on Basmati rice.
Since 2015, for every meal served by Dishoom,