A restaurateur is planning to expand his Indian tapas-style brand after a successful start for its inaugural Sunderland venue.
The Funky Indian opened on Wearside at the end of last year, and has since won rave reviews for its tapas-style Indian food and quirky interior design.
The restaurant, run by Kam Chera, also operates as a social enterprise, offering training and employment opportunities for young people.
Mr Chera turns the venue into a training academy during the day, running three 10-week courses each year for young people from the city with special needs and disabilities.
The venue has partnered with two Sunderland schools – the Barbara Priestman Academy and Portland Academy – as well as Sunderland-based PSB Training to run the scheme, with supporters of the project including Gentoo and Sunderland AFC.
As well as providing work experience and hospitality training, The Funky Indian has also pledged to provide some part-time positions at the end of each course, to add to the six jobs it has already created at its base in Tavistock Place.
Mr Chera – who also runs the two Amore restaurants in Roker and Ashbrooke – is putting plans in place to open a second Funky Indian restaurant in Newcastle within the near future, to continue to expand his unique concept of high-quality dining as a social enterprise.
He said: “For all the time I’ve run Amore, we have held a Christmas party each year for children with special needs from the city, and from that came the idea to offer much more than that – we wanted to offer training, practical skills, confidence building, and potentially a job at the end of it.
“We dedicate a full day each week for 10 weeks to these young people to equip them with the skills they will need to work in the hospitality sector.
“We are thrilled our idea for The Funky Indian has become reality and have had so much support from across the city and beyond.
“We are already looking at opening a second restaurant, most probably in Newcastle, within the next 18 months, such is our confidence in this unique concept.”
The legal aspects of the opening of The Funky Indian were handled by the leisure team at Newcastle law firm Sintons. Partners Sarah Smith and Alok Loomba handled the licensing and real estate aspects respectively.
Sarah Smith said: “As well as being a fabulous restaurant by night, Kam has created something unique by day, operating it as a training academy for young people and giving them the skills and potential to help transform their lives.
“This is a really superb concept and we are delighted to see The Funky Indian growing and thriving as we knew it would.”