An Aberdeen Indian restaurant has diversified with a new offering of online chilled and frozen curry products.
Shri Bheemas Indian Restaurant in the city centre has stepped into the consumer market by launching a new online food offering called Indian Gourmet.
The business, which is based on Belmont Street and also has a premises in Bridge of Don, revealed the service was part of their diversification plan to help it survive during the coronavirus pandemic.
Specialising in frozen and chilled south and north Indian delicacies, the frozen meals can be ordered online and can arrive at your door within a day or so.
Available to customers across the UK, Anitha Joseph and her husband Mr Vala, who own parent firm Shri Bheemas are looking forward to seeing how customers respond to their latest venture.
With more than two decades of experience in the food and hospitality industry, the project has been years in the making and was spearheaded when Covid-19 restrictions came into place in the UK in March.
Handmade, the meals are age-old recipes passed down from generation to generation and can be easily stored before being cooked in the microwave, ensuring little effort is required in enjoying restaurant quality meals.
Flash frozen within minutes of being cooked, the process locks in the taste and flavour of each meal which ensures customers will get to experience the aromas and tastes that you would expect with any freshly cooked meal.
Anitha said: “We have been working on this project since 2015. The initial business plan was very large and ambitious and we wanted to supply our own products to all of the supermarkets in the UK. Restaurants and takeaways who are struggling to get chefs can purchase the products from us and finish off the curry at their premises for their customers.
“Since the start of the pandemic, it has given us a lot of time to really think about this project as we were at home. We weren’t sure what was next for the food industry and decided to start small and try and fit with the local market first instead of going big to begin with.
“If it works, then we could look at a larger market. With restrictions changing every day, diners are hesitant to go out and have a sit-in dinner. If you are able to provide the same quality restaurant quality food which they can enjoy at their own comfort, and give it to customers for a fraction of the price they may pay in the restaurant or for a takeaway then it really just ticked all of the boxes.”
Responsible for 20 staff, Anitha says the move will safeguard jobs and will allow the business to continue trading during these uncertain times for hospitality.
The Bridge of Don premises have been closed since the start of March with the workforce still currently on furlough.
She added: “We don’t see any real clear future for the restaurant industry for the next year or two. We have to survive and we don’t want to look to close or even close our business. We have 20 employees who are dependent on the business so we had to rethink what we were doing.
“We’ve only been operating the one venue just now and we wanted to bring something different to the market and ensure our staff were kept busy at Belmont Street. The blast freezers, storage and chillers are all located at the Bridge of Don premises. We have a large car park and we’re utilising the outdoor space there. It is the kitchen team at the Belmont Street venue which is leading with regards to the food preparation just now.”
Quick and easy
Crafted by the team at the award-winning eatery, Anitha says the dishes are quick and easy for customers to enjoy at home as all they have to do is pop each dish in the microwave for up to eight minutes maximum for servings for two.
Offering everything from curries, naan breads, side dishes, desserts and more, customers can enjoy restaurant quality food at a reduced price.
“Saving cost and saving time for our customers was our main target with this project,” added Anitha. “We will never compromise on the quality of our food and have never done in the eight years we’ve been running the restaurants. We never compromise on taste and always strive for consistency. We have a strong team in the kitchen.
“The first few months was all about figuring out how we can stay within the budget and making the numbers work. We want to reach a wide range of customers. It’s not about profit just now, it is about getting those sales and introducing people to the brand.”
With a whole range of spice variations, not to mention vegan and vegetarian options, and a range of chicken, lamb, fish dishes to pick from, customers can pick from 36 items to try out in the comfort of their own home.
“We wanted to include both south and north Indian food in our range because when it comes to chilled and frozen foods, there are not many players in the market. There are businesses selling frozen foods but not high quality south or north Indian cuisine so we wanted to offer that,” revealed Anitha.
“Right now we can sell across the whole of the UK and we’re offering a real authentic taste – just as you would enjoy in the restaurant.
“Our delivery partners are DPD but for Aberdeen customers we offer the chance to pick up for collection from the Bridge of Don premises, or we can deliver locally for a small fee.
“Being from south India I know which items are quite popular in our community, so we picked those dishes, and for the others, we picked them because they were very popular among our customers. Chettinad has been the best seller since day one for Shri Bheemas. It is very spicy, but the flavours in it are just excellent. We have a number of specialities included, too.
“We have 36 different products on the website and over 15 vegetarian options and some vegan options too. We’re in the process of developing more vegan dishes at the moment.
“There are a few local convenience stores in Fraserburgh and Peterhead who are interested in stocking our products which is also great. There’s even stores in Edinburgh looking to stock us.