Mumtaz on the march with restaurant openings

IT'S been a firm favourite among curry lovers in Bradford for more than 30 years but this week one of the region's best-known Kashmiri restaurants is launching its second restaurant as part of nationwide expansion plans.

Over the years the family-owned business Mumtaz Leeds, part of parent company Mumtaz Food Industries, has grown from a four-metre square cafe to an international business supplying Harrods and serving the Queen.

On Sunday it will open one of the biggest restaurants in Leeds, next to the Royal Armouries at Clarence Dock, creating more than 100 new jobs.

The firm, which was founded by Farzand Begum, is now run by her three sons, Mumtaz Khan, Doctor Akbar and Rab Nawaz.

Mumtaz Khan, founder and chairman of Mumtaz Food Industries, said: "We were never interested in opening another restaurant. Our base was in Bradford, that was the backbone of our whole business.

"But what we realised over the years is this: Leeds has become the financial city of the North, so being a brand we wanted to have a presence in Leeds."

The Leeds restaurant will be the first of five new Mumtaz restaurants in the country. The others will open in London Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

Mr Khan said: "I know there are financial difficulties and everybody is being very cautious but life must go on. I'm in a better position than most because I have less borrowing from banks so I'm not under press- ure and we are growing organically."

A 2.5m fit-out is currently underway at the 10,000 sq ft restaurant which will have a capacity for 300 people.

Mr Khan said: "Mumtaz is all about the biggest. We are not interested in opening smaller restaurants because Mumtaz is a brand and this restaurant has to represent the quality of the brand."

The decision to open on Mothers' Day was made in tribute to Mr Khan's mother who founded the business.

"It's because of my mother I'm here where I am," he said. "She started the business in 1978 on Great Horton Road and named it after me being the oldest son in the family."

Mr Khan insisted the expansion of the Mumtaz brand would not compromise the quality for which it is famous.

The restaurant will adhere to Mumtaz's Kashmiri menu in Bradford as well as incorporating chilled food counters, a delicatessen, conference facilities and a takeaway.

Mr Khan said: "We are not a huge corporation, it's still a family-run business.

"We don't dilute our product to boost our profits. I can live with a smaller profit but I respect my customers and I don't insult their intelligence."

Funding for the new restaurant was provided by Yorkshire Bank's West Yorkshire Financial Services Solutions Centre in Bradford.

Mumtaz Food Industries also has a subsidiary producing Kashmiri dishes for major supermarket chains including Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Booths as well as exporting to 37 countries.