In this, the third part of our four part series tracking the transition of Manjit’s Kitchen from food cart to to a bricks-and-mortar restaurant, we take a look at the restaurant opening.

If you’re joining us now, have a look at:

Part 1: The transition from street food to restaurant
Part 2: Financing through crowdfunding

So, we have a building, a menu and a restaurant that is in the skilful hands of the tradesmen to do their magic. They’re all called Dave so that’s easy when it comes to brew time.

When opening a ‘brand new’ food business as well as a great venue and great food you need to make sure that we have great staff and that they all think the same and work as a team. This gives the best experience to the customers, best food + best service +best drinks = best experience.  

Manjit and Michael are all about ‘the team’ and wanted to let as many of their existing staff from their market stall work at the new restaurant as they could. Promoting and empowering them to help them and helping the develop and grow. Very wise in my mind.

With the menu being different from what they where used to at the market, we need to train the staff how to produce the new dishes and ensure they are happy and relaxed with the menu. We started by arranging three days of training. On the first day I made all the dishes for them to taste and see how they should look. This wasn’t just kitchen staff but front of house too. It’s an important selling point that the team knows what each item on the menu tastes like and which dishes work together. We then took pictures of the food so we could build a specification for it, to use as training. Day one was a long day, but we were all happy with what we had.

So day two and its over to the team, the guys who work for Manjit and Michael are great cooks. They balance flavour so well and the food they make is always great, but this new menu is different. Firstly, it has a small plate section cooked to order and desserts, both of which they had never done before. Massively out of their comfort zone. The kitchen team had a go at cooking all of the menu, this may have not been correct the first time, but we carried on-and-on and by the end of day 3 it was perfect, and the team were happy.

The plan was to have a soft opening first week, with friends and family before we let Manjit’s 12,500 twitter followers know. Michael will run the front of house, the first time he has done this, but he picked it up fast. The first week worked well, the front and back of house teams got to practice. Yes, there may have been mistakes and things missed but the customers left happy and the team slept well at night in the belief they have created something great.

Manjit and Michael have created an amazing business from nothing. The have worked hard, pleased customers and food critics and even surprised themselves with what they have done. The restaurant is busy, the food stall market is busy. Michael is now a great host and the team, well they are cooking great food and that’s exactly how we planned it.

Kindly contributed by Steve Midgley Consulting Development Chef, 30 years experience in fine dinning, creating fantastic experiences at Michelin star restaurants.


13 Limberline Road,
Hilsea Industrial Estate Hilsea, Portsmouth,
Hampshire PO3 5JF

© Dennis Edwards for Foodservice 2022