A Yorkshire restaurateur and his team – who count Sir Cliff Richard and Percy Sledge among happy customers – have gone back to the future by launching a new venture in a popular market town.
Saffron, which specialises in Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine, has opened its doors in Wetherby – at the same premises where boss Fayzul Islam started his first job more than 25 years ago.
His family were synonymous with the popular former Ali Raj tandoori takeaway, which they opened in 1987. A fresh-faced Fayzul started working there in 1994, aged just 19.
Alongside other members of the original team, he has now returned to his culinary roots to launch Saffron from the same spot in Bank Street, which was most recently occupied by Jalalz.
The team includes former Curry Chef of the Year Anwar Hussain, Ahmed Tufayel, Heron Miah, and Shuhel Uddin, another award-winning chef.
“It’s great to turn full circle and be back in Wetherby again,” said Fayzul. “We are a new venture but with a long history of meeting the needs of the Wetherby community.
“We all have great memories of our time here and look forward to renewing old friendships.
“The response we have had since opening our doors has been fantastic, with many of our original customers from all those years ago popping by and saying hello.
“We’ve had a great welcome. I may have grown a long beard since those early days, as well as few more silver strands of hair, but they all seem to remember me – it’s like we have never been away.”
To commemorate its links with Wetherby, it has added Wharfe Mirchi to its menu of house specials – a chicken tikka marinated in its own exclusive sauce, barbequed in a tandoori oven.