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Derby friends join forces to open Indian ‘tapas’ style restaurant in landmark £3m Piazza building at Mercia Marina

L-R: Vid Patel, Sunny Chandhoke and Sanjeev Kumar

Local family friends are set to launch an Indian ‘tapas’ style restaurant at Mercia Marina’s new landmark £3m Piazza building.

The restaurant, named Lotus, will be one of the first of its kind in the East Midlands and is based on a dining concept already popular in London and other large cities across the UK.

Sunny Chandhoke, a chartered accountant, and family friend Sanjeev Kumar are behind the plans for the new 120-cover eatery. Sanjeev is a director of NK Motors, based in Pride Park, which is the largest KIA motor dealership in the country.

Vid Patel, of Littleover, who is the former owner and founder of Jee Ja Jee’s restaurant, once considered to be the premier Indian eatery in Derby, will be the restaurant’s general manager.

Lotus, set to open in mid-June, will have a varied menu offering small plates of authentic Indian food. The dishes, designed to be shared by everyone round the table, will include grilled meats, vegetarian streetfood and home-style curries  – all cooked to traditional recipes.

Sunny was born and bred in Derby and qualified as a chartered accountant with local firm HSKS Greenhalgh, living in Littleover before moving to London.

He said: “We had always wanted to go into restaurants and when Vid told us about a unit being available at the marina we thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce this concept in our home city.

“It’s more about relaxed dining with ‘tapas’-style sharing plates, which is essentially how people in India would eat. There are several restaurants of this nature in London but we are passionate about bringing this dining style to Derby.

“At the moment we are busy planning the restaurant’s décor. It will showcase art and artefacts from India, all arranged in a way that is sympathetic to the marina’s beautiful and rustic setting.

“It will be completely different to all other Indian eateries in the area, and we hope it will challenge people’s perceptions and stereotypes about what an Indian restaurant is supposed to look like.

“Furthermore, in Vid Patel as general manager we have a real stalwart of the Indian dining scene in Derby. He successfully ran Jee Ja Jee’s restaurant in Heatherton village, Littleover, which for many years was the place to go for Indian food in Derby. We believe he can really help us make this restaurant a success.”

There is also an interesting story behind the restaurant’s name, as most people might expect a place called Lotus to serve Chinese or Thai food.

But the lotus is actually the national flower of India, and it features heavily in Hindu and Buddhist imagery.

It was only when Buddhism spread out of India to neighbouring countries that the lotus became more associated with other cultures.

Sunny said: “We hope to re-establish this link between the lotus and India in the popular imagination. It’s also an appropriate name, given our location on the marina, as the lotus is a water plant.”

Sanjeev, of Toton, said: “We are currently in the process of assembling a strong team in the kitchen, led by a top quality chef. The restaurant’s planning, layout and fitting is being carried out by my father Nindy Kumar’s specialist building company NK Building Contractors, led by Anthony Tricket as team leader.

“I’m really excited to be going into this joint venture with Sunny and the team to provide something different for the connoisseurs of Indian food in the Derby area. The restaurant will create over 15 to 20 jobs, mainly full-time.”

The restaurant will open from late morning with an all-day menu involving 12-15 grilled and streetfood dishes and six to eight curries devised by the head chef.

The large bar will serve a wide range of drinks to complement the food, and there will also be a selection of cakes with an Indian twist on offer.

Diners will be able to watch the chefs in action at the open kitchen.

Mercia Marina, in Findern Lane, Willington, is a major regional tourist attraction with over 900,000 visitors a year.  The new £3m Piazza landmark building has been completed. It is Bionical’s global HQ and as well as Lotus it also houses the Bluebird Gallery, Twigg Home, William Wheelwright Hair Salon and Black By Design’s showroom and shop.