New pub hopes to curry favour with its regulars

Friday, 3rd June — By

Glen Leeson and Prince Durairaj

Glen Leeson, left, and Prince Durairaj have transformed The Cuckoo

OPENING a business during a cost of living crisis is “unsettling” but the owners of a new pub say they have cause for optimism.

While the Tribune so often writes about bars closing down in tough trading times, the two men behind The Tamil Prince hope an alternative offer – Indian food with your pint – will make all the difference.

Prince Durairaj, 39, and Glen Leeson, 34, have transformed what was The Cuckoo, off Caledonian Road, for the new venture.

“We still want to have your old boy at the bar on a Tuesday night having a few pints and a family having an authentic, south Indian dinner,” Mr Leeson said.

He was made redundant during lockdown and spent a year doing ad-hoc work, without the faintest hope of starting a business.

“My life was upside down, the hospitality industry was on its knees and nobody had any idea what was going to happen,” Mr Leeson said.

He then took a job at Roti King, a restaurant serving Malaysian street food, where he went on to meet Mr Durairaj.

The pair have been in business for eight months but Mr Leeson said it was as if they had worked together in previous lives – before and after Covid hit hospitality.

Together they set up a food kiosk in Hackney Wick, their success giving them the courage to set up The Tamil Prince.

Issues such as rising food costs connected to the Ukraine crisis, pressure on disposable incomes and a staffing shortage mean Mr Durairaj and Mr Leeson face a tough start.

Rent has also been an issue with housing costs almost double what you would have to pay before Covid, Mr Leeson said.

Food prices are also on the rise – according to Mr Durairaj, the cost of a box of tomatoes recently tripled from £6 to £18.

“We’ve had this phenomenal increase in ingredients prices and at the moment we’re eating the costs,” said Mr Leeson.

But they are persevering and hope that the pub’s old clientele will be in.

Mr Leeson said: “All the local residents are the people that have been going there long before we were and for us to push them out is unreasonable, but we want to give the place our own stamp and that’s through the food.”

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