Dishoom confirms spring opening in Birmingham

03 December 2019

The team, led by co-founders Shamil and Kavi Thakrar, behind Bombay café chain Dishoom has confirmed that they will open a new restaurant in Birmingham next year.

Dishoom Birmingham will open in Spring 2020 and will be located in the heart of the city at One Chamberlain Square, part of Paradise Birmingham.

The restaurant will pay homage to the old Irani cafés that were once part of the fabric of life in Bombay. Dishoom Birmingham will draw upon the ethos and the poetry of these cafés, but will have its own distinct story, exploring the parallels and connections between Bombay and Birmingham.

Executive Chef Naved Nasir’s menu of Bombay comfort food will be served all day, from breakfast-time until late. Bringing together the food of all Bombay, dishes cooked in Hindu, Muslim, Irani and Parsi traditions will all jostle for space on the table, and a new chef’s special will be created especially for Dishoom Birmingham. The restaurant will also have a Permit Room bar, serving Dishoom’s award-winning cocktails, teetotal tipples, chai, coolers and more.

Opened early last century by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, there were almost four hundred Irani cafés in Bombay at their peak in the 1960s. These cafés were the first places that people of any caste, class, religion or race could come together over food and drink, taking cool refuge from the street to enjoy a cheap snack, a hearty meal, or just a cup of chai. Fans turned slowly, panelled walls were hung with sepia-toned family portraits.

Wealthy businessmen, sweaty taxi-wallas and courting couples sat close to one another on rickety bentwood chairs at chipped marble tables. Students ate breakfast while high court lawyers read their briefs, families had lunch and writers found their characters.

Dishoom pays loving homage to these Irani cafés, of which fewer than 30 now remain in Bombay. Each Dishoom restaurant attempts to capture some of the romantic nostalgia of these spaces – through stories, design, food and service. Most importantly, the Dishoom team believe wholeheartedly that when people break bread together, barriers break down. Shared spaces (like the Irani cafés) beget shared experiences and shared experiences mean that people are more likely to tolerate, and indeed celebrate, each other’s differences.

At its heart, Dishoom Birmingham will be a space that captures the wistful poetry of the Irani cafés, and a place that, above everything, warmly welcomes all.

Everything Dishoom does shares the team’s deep love for Bombay – its food, its history, its culture and its quirks. Each Dishoom restaurant has a story – something of a founding myth – deeply rooted in Bombay history and specific to each location. This story informs all aspect of the café’s design narrative, which is brought to life in collaboration with Dishoom’s long-term design partners, Macaulay Sinclair.

Inspired by Birmingham’s history as the “city of a thousand trades”, the Dishoom Birmingham story explores the unique parallels with the markets of Bombay and the importance of the city’s commercial past. During the Indian independence movement these places of trade and commerce became places of quiet protest. Through the championing of local trades, they helped a new national identity take shape.

The non-cooperation movement of the 1920s, led by Gandhi, quickly became a means of shaping political ends through business, utilising the trades of the city in the pursuit of Indian self-determination. Bombayites were called upon to boycott foreign goods, with local merchants offering Indian alternatives to colonial imports. As political consciousness flowered in Bombay during the 1930s and 1940s, so did the trades of the city.

And so, at Dishoom Birmingham we find ourselves in Bombay’s historic Swadeshi Market (the name itself meaning “self-reliance”). It’s 1953, the newly independent India is finding its voice as a nation, and Roda Irani is reminiscing about the years leading up to Independence…

The opening of Dishoom Birmingham will create over 100 new jobs in the city.

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