Opening of new Indian restaurant in Leamington marks emotional return for owner
When Baabzi Miah has launched his new Indian restaurant in Leamington this week it marked a proud return to the premises after 26 years – but this time as joint owner.
Baabzi is launching Eleven Spices with business partner Naseer Hussain, breathing new life into the Spencer Street venue that has been empty for more than three years following the closure of Voujan Bari.
And it brings back special memories for the self-taught chef who worked front of house at the restaurant – formerly called Shalimar - in an early chapter of his career, aged 21.
Baabzi is joining forces with a colleague at his award-winning Indian Takeaway in Warwick, to start the new venture, which they pledge will offer something different for the town.
“I worked at this exact site many years ago and kind of lived through a ‘baptism of fire’ type experience in a very challenging restaurant to say the least.
" It means a lot to redefine this location and offer up honest, flavour-packed dishes and plates for this wonderful Spa town,” said Baabzi.
Eleven Spices, which has undergone extensive refurbishment, is the sixth UK restaurant project for the Birmingham-born businessman since his first joint ownership aged just 17, with his father in The Lake District.
Baabzi said: “We sold the restaurant in Cumbria because I had to come back to Birmingham to live with my family when my younger sister was very ill with lupus and sadly passed away.
"At that time the family needed my support mentally, emotionally and financially.
“It was then – in 1996 - that I joined Shalimar, so being back here brings back lots of emotional memories.”
Baabzi and Naseer hope to build on the local culinary reputation established for the past five years with the multi-award-winning Baabzi’s Indian Takeaway in Coten End, Warwick, including Best Takeaway in The Good Food Awards 2021, Best Local Takeaway in the 2021 British Curry Awards and, this year, the Blue Ribbon Good Food Award.