For Sayd Rahman, owner of Silchar Indian Dining, running an award-winning restaurant is about so much more than the food. He loves to entertain and create a vibrant, memorable experience for his guests from the moment they arrive until the time they leave his stylish restaurant in Hinckley…
“When people come to my restaurant, I want them to feel as if they’ve come to a carnival, not just out for a curry and a drink,” he said.
“As well as serving food, I try and reflect my personality towards the customer to make sure they have a good time. I like to have a good conversation with them, make sure they’re comfortable, warm and that they enjoy their food. It’s an entire experience – more than just a meal…”
Sayd’s personal touch and commitment to going above and beyond for his customers, are just a few of the ingredients which keep them coming back time and again to Silchar.
It also led to the venue being named ‘Restaurant of the Year’ at last year’s Leicestershire Curry Awards – an achievement of which Sayd is rightfully proud.
“For me, it was like winning an Oscar!” said the passionate restauranteur.
“When they called our name and I was escorted to the stage – it was all lights and ‘wow, welcome to the movies!’ It was for me anyway…”
Since the age of 14, Sayd has been involved in the hospitality industry, working as a waiter at first in the family restaurant. However, when he was growing up, his big dream was to be involved in the performing arts.
Despite this not coming to fruition however, Sayd is not downbeat. Far from it! He is still able to fulfil his passion for entertaining at Silchar – the place where he brings his incredible energy, charisma and zest for life.
“The restaurant is my stage and the customers are my audience,” he said.
“As soon as we open, it’s lights, camera action!”
“Performing arts – singing, dancing and acting that was my passion from day one. I always wanted to go and become some kind of movie star. But then obviously, you know, career and work and situations, obviously family and stuff,” he explained.
“I ended up in the restaurant trade, but I love my job. I think it sort of goes together with my passion for acting and singing and dancing. I’m a people person. I couldn’t be behind the counter or on the phone. I want to be with the people – in front of the people and actually, you know, give them a good time and entertain them… I want my personality to reflect on my restaurant.”
Born in Bangladesh, Sayd moved to the UK with his family when he was three-years-old.
He credits his Mum with his passion for food and his huge talent for hospitality.
“When I was a kid, I used to watch my mum cook a lot and I used to help her in the kitchen as well. I learned a lot from her because she spent a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, creating dishes and hosting a lot of parties and serving people,” he explained.
However, it’s Sayd’s wife Shelina who is his chief motivator today.
The pair live in Birmingham, together with their three children.
“You can’t be high 24-seven, so when I’m feeling down or a little under the weather, she’ll motivate me, she’ll inspire me, she’ll advise me, she’ll criticise me,” he revealed.
“During Covid, the challenges were severe and times were difficult. But when restrictions lifted and they gave us the opportunity to dine outside, we put our heads together and transformed our beer garden. We took the restaurant outside.
“I think we were the only restaurant in Hinckley to have an outside space, so that was an amazing advantage to us.”
Although he admits that the competition in Hinckley is high, Sayd loves the location of Silchar and the loyal customers who attend – some from as far as 20 miles away.
“When we opened in 2015, we started off with 60 tables. But within the first six months the business began to grow and we needed to expand. We thought, wow, this is something special – we need to have more seats, more covers, more stuff, more chefs. And yeah, we’ve never looked back,” he said.
“It’s been a great journey so far…
“When I go into my restaurant, I just focus on what I do, making sure I deliver a good product and that the customer is smiling when they leave. That’s the most important thing.”