At the time of writing, Leicester is home to two Indian Rooster restaurants, owned by Vimal Rana. However, the ambitious restauranteur has plans to open another in the near future and even branch out to other cities beyond Leicester…
Vimal’s dream is to franchise Indian Rooster and for it to become a well known brand in the food industry.
“I want it to be recognised for its flavour – for the food to have the same taste whether it’s in London or Birmingham,” he said.
“I love it when the customers approach me and say ‘Mr Rana we really enjoy your food. We’ve been to another branch, and it was the same taste and everything.’ That’s what really inspires me and drives me to look at franchising the brand.
“I’m only 41. I still have a long journey ahead of me…”
Vimal opened his first restaurant in Melton Road back in 2018. Following its success, he decided to open a second Indian Rooster on Queen’s Road in 2022.
The popularity of his food, he says is down to its authentic taste – spices which are shipped over from his family’s business in India.
Vimal wakes up early every day in order to marinade the meat – a process which takes between three-four hours.
It’s a labour of love, which gives the food at Indian Rooster a unique and unmistakable taste.
“Customers love the food. They like the authentic, barbecue taste. We grill our meat and put it on charcoal,” he revealed.
“Our tandoori wings are very popular and we have very authentic Masala chips which people love, as well as Indo-Chinese prawns and chilli chicken.”
Vimal grew up in a farmhouse in India, where his father ran a hugely successful spice merchants. Set up originally by his grandfather, it is a business which has been thriving for over 50 years.
Vimal’s father is someone who he describes as his “hero” – a hardworking man with a tireless work ethic. Even in his retirement, he still helps out at Indian Rooster today.
However, despite being impressed by his father and the business he helped to build, it was important for Vimal to follow his own path, and to find success of his own here in the UK.
He moved from India in 2007, and found work at Maryland Chicken initially – a job he worked at for over five years.
“If you come from a wealthy background, people will say ‘you are everything you are because of your dad. They think that you can’t do anything on your own,” Vimal explained.
“I decided that I wanted to do something for myself, and prove that I can do something by myself – something new.
“When I got the job at Maryland, I was always hiding my identity,” he went on to reveal. “I never said what I had in India. I just wanted to be treated like a normal person and be seen for my work – what I can bring to the business.
“Everyday I learned more and more. I got good experience, did the hard work and finally got an opportunity to open my own restaurant. Today everything is good and all my dreams are coming true,” he added.
Originally, Vimal only planned to stay in the UK for a few years. However, he fell in love with Leicester and its famous multi-cultural community.
“The community here – the temples and everything is so similar to India,” he said.
“Many of my family members are over in America. They say ‘why don’t you come over – you have a good opportunity here,’ but I get so much love and support from the people in Melton Road (where I live). I love it here.”
Last year, Indian Rooster was awarded the the title of ‘Best Street Food’ at the Leicestershire Curry Awards. It was a moment which made Mr Rana, his family and his staff incredibly proud.
“It’s like getting an Oscar!” he exclaimed. “The staff were so excited – they were dancing on the floor! It also meant a lot to me and my family. We make a lot of sacrifices to run the business, but when my son woke up and saw the award he was so happy and proud.
“He said ‘Daddy you work hard and get a reward’. I took a picture of him with the trophy and put it on social media. I was very happy that day.
“My Dad is my hero, and I hope that I can be that for my son too.”
The future looks bright for Indian Rooster, and Vimal is committed to expanding the business and improving it further.
“I wake up early and I’m always thinking about the business and planning the next project. When we go abroad and sit in any restaurant, I’m always researching what they’re doing. I find it hard to switch off!,” he said.
“The restaurant business is not easy. It’s very hard. Everyday challenges come in your face but you do your best to work through them.
“We have to keep working hard because so many people rely on my business and customers love it. They say: ‘Mr Rana when are you opening in the city centre – when are you opening near me?’ so the demand for more Indian Rooster restaurants is definitely there.
“I’ve already applied for the trademark, so franchising is the future plan. This is only the beginning. With hard work, anything is possible.”