Rosa’s ‘greasy spoon’ East End café turns into £6m Thai food chain

Rosa's owner Alex Moore with NatWest's Nick Kalamaras

Rosa's owner Alex Moore with NatWest's Nick Kalamaras - Credit: [NatWest]

The husband-and-wife team behind the successful Rosa’s Thai Café restaurant chain that began with an old “greasy spoon” in London’s East End are now opening their fifth and six branches.

Alex and Saiphin Moore have unveiled their Chelsea branch, with another to follow at The Angel in Islington, after funding from NatWest bank.

The couple ran a restaurant in Hong Kong before returning to Britain to set up a market stall in east London’s Brick Lane selling Thai food.

“I had fresh eyes to bring to London, having been in Asia for 16 years,” Alex explained. “We sold our house to fund our restaurant dream—we had the passion in the beginning to make it happen.”

Their breakthrough came in 2008 when they saw a traditional ‘greasy spoon’ café for sale at Hanbury Street in Spitalfields, called Rosa’s.

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They kept the name and turned it into their first Thai restaurant with a formula of modern London café atmosphere with authentic Bangkok classic cuisine. Three more restaurants followed in Stratford’s Westfield centre, in Soho and in Carnaby Street.

They approached NatWest relationship director Nick Kalamaras in 2013 who arranged £375,000 funding to help expand their business.

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“He speaks ‘restaurant’ and believed in us,” Alex added. “Nick understands our business and likes the way we run it.

“Rosa’s Cafés don’t look like the usual Thai restaurants. The seating is close together, much like traditional Asian restaurants.”

The couple have now secured a further £660,000 towards their latest venture, creating 30 new jobs. The business now has a staff of 110 with a turnover projected at £6m.

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