From publishing their own cookbook and opening 10 restaurants in London, to turning their beloved Lao Cafe from a pop-up into a permanent plot, the founders of Rosa's Thai Cafe have no idea of what it means to be slack in the city. Celebrating their restaurant domination, a new opening in West Hampstead, home-inspired dishes and Thai prowess, we decided to pick their brains on dining, down-time and more as :
- What top 3 tips would you give to someone looking to start their own foodie pop-up? Look for the gap in the London Food & Beverage landscape (which is not easy), Offer something unique (Londoners are always looking for something interesting), and stay true to what you know best (in our case, Thai and Laotian food).
- Why do you think the casual dining scene in London has boomed in the last 3-5 years? Londoners are very well-travelled and know so much about world food. Our core customers are the 25-34 year old who have eaten Thai food or have been to Thailand. London is lucky because of the foodie influencers who have adventurous palete and love to try new cuisines, and really help us spread the word. Now is definitely the best time to open new restaurants.
- What's the hardest thing about owning a chain of restaurants? Becoming a chain! We work hard to not lose the soul of the business as we grow. Both my wife and I are still very much involved in the day-to-day running of the business. Saiphin is always in one of Rosa's kitchens - if you're lucky, she'll be cooking for you and you won't even know it.
- What's been your most memorable/proudest moment since you started Rosa's? There's been many milestones but the proudest moment was definitely when we got our first site opened in Hanbury Street. We had help from friends, family, and credit cards. It's now become an institution in Spitalfields area, but challenges of getting it opened really keep us humble.
- What motivates and inspires you? My family and our great colleagues.
- Is Saiphin the main cook at home? Does Alex ever cook recipes from Rosa's Cookbook (if so, which dish?). Of course. I've tried to cook a couple of times but never get the thumbs up from Saiphin. I'll leave her to do what she does best.
- Opening your 10th restaurant in the city - you're taking London by storm. If you're not in Rosa's where is your favourite place to eat? We absolutely love Il Bordello, an Italian restaurant with an amazing service in Wapping, or White Mulberries in St Katherine Docks for some of the most amazing coffee in London.
- When you're not working, what is your ideal day and night out in London? We spend most of the time when we're not working with our son five-year old son, Noah! But if we can sneak in a night out, we often look for the newest restaurants to try.
Has our interview made you a little peckish? Then why not try out one of the many, amazing Rosa's sites across London, found at the following locations: Angel, Carnaby, Brixton, Chelsea, Soho, Spitalfields, West Hampstead, Victoria and Stratford. Why not also try your hand at one of their recipes, as featured below: