London-based Indian restaurant group MW Eat is planning to reposition and revamp its seven-strong Masala Zone casual dining chain.
Founded in 2001, the chain currently has an average spend of £12 per head but MW Eat’s owners are eying a more upmarket offering and a considerably higher spend.
“We want to completely upgrade and reposition the brand. We’re going to make changes to the interiors, the menu, the presentation of the food and the drinks offer. At the moment the prices are too low, we need to make the proposition more upmarket in order to serve the level of cuisine we want,” says director Camellia Panjabi who runs the company with sister Namita Panjabi and brother-in-law Ranjit Mathrani.
The group operates a number of high-end Indian restaurants including the Chutney Mary, Veeraswamy and the Michelin-starred Amaya.
The repositioning of Masala Zone - which has sites in Covent Garden, Soho, Camden, Bayswater, Earls Court and Islington as well as a concession in Selfridges - is intended to make the group’s 11-strong estate more coherent. Masala Zone’s Islington branch has already been refitted but the menu and price point is yet to change. The group hopes to refurbish two more Masala Zones this year.
It’s been a busy period for MW Eat following several years of inactivity. Late last month the group relocated Indian fine dining restaurant Chutney Mary from Chelsea to the West End following an off market deal with Marco Pierre for Wheeler’s of St. James’s.
The vacated site near Imperial Wharf has become Masala Grill, a more casual venue that explores the middle ground between Amaya and the original Masala Zone concept. If successful it is understood that the directors will use it as a blueprint for Masala Zone’s repositioning.
“Our 25 year lease at Chutney Mary had expired but when we told our regulars we were thinking of leaving Chelsea for good there was an outcry, so we’ve negotiated another [shorter] lease with the landlord to try something different,” adds Panjabi.