Interview with Kavi Thakrar, Co-founder, Dishoom
To mark 25 years since we acquired the Carnaby estate, we chatted to Kavi Thakrar, Co-Founder of Dishoom. He says finding the site on the iconic Kingly St was “really exciting” and offered an opportunity to create something “really unique”.
1. Can you tell us about Dishoom? What led to you deciding to open in Carnaby and why did you choose the location?
We opened our first Dishoom café in Covent Garden in 2010, and we now have eight restaurants: five in London, plus Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Everything we do at Dishoom pays loving homage to the food and culture of Bombay and its Irani cafes.
Finding the site on Kingly St was really exciting; Carnaby is such an iconic London address. As you might know, before we open a Dishoom café we always imagine it as an Irani café deeply rooted in an aspect of Bombay history. We then sit down and write a story – a different founding myth – which guides every single detail of that space. When we visited Carnaby our imagination ran wild! Carnaby’s Kingly St location offered an opportunity to create something really unique. London – and especially Carnaby Street – was the heart of the social and musical revolution that took place in the ’60s, and this kicked off a rocking music scene in Bombay, too. This allowed us to open a Dishoom that celebrates the youth revolution in both London and Bombay, and a flourishing rock’n’roll scene. We have so much fun telling this story and bringing it to life.
2. How do you feel the restaurant and location have evolved since you opened?
Carnaby has long been synonymous with great culture and food and drink, and it feels as though this will just keep getting bigger and better. We’re looking forward to seeing who joins the neighbourhood next.
3. Why do you think Dishoom and the location have been successful? What are the main benefits of the Kingly St location?
Kingly St is such a vibrant and eclectic part of town. We get people from all walks of life through our doors: Oxford St shoppers, local office workers, international tourists, and so on. The location is wonderfully convenient and all are welcome in our cafés, so this works hand in hand.
4. What is your relationship like with the community? How would you describe the Carnaby community in three words?
We like to think that we have a great relationship with our local community. Seeing guests in our restaurants - coming together over generations and cultures to break bread - is really, really important to us. Three words: diverse, expressive, fun!
5. And how would you describe your relationship with the team at Shaftesbury?
We are grateful for the collaborative and supportive nature of our relationship with Shaftesbury since we opened in 2015. It has been a particularly testing couple of years for the hospitality industry more recently, and over that time we really felt the valued support of our partners.