One half of the dynamic duo behind Rosa’s Thai Café (the other is wife and chef Saiphin), Alex Moore has a growing restaurant group founded on a personal connection to both London and Thailand. We discuss the risks and rewards of putting heart and soul into a business.
Where did the idea for Rosa’s come from?
It came about when we moved back to England, after spending 20 years in Asia. We were quite disappointed with the Thai food offering available in the UK, with images of Buddha, waterfalls and waiters wearing Thai outfits. This is completely opposite to how people eat in Thailand. So we wanted to create a cool and casual café that serves authentic food; a marriage between Thai and English ‘caff’ cultures. That’s when the Rosa’s concept was born.
Tell us about a memorable turning point in the business?
It was definitely one of the most memorable moments when we beat 20 other people for our first site in Spitalfields. We’ve gone from selling food in a market stall for two years to having a permanent restaurant.
What’s been your greatest mistake and what did it teach you?
Financing our first restaurant in Spitalfields with credit cards, we sold our house to fund our second branch in Soho. We put too much personal guarantee into the business; if everything had gone south, we would have been left with nothing. We’ll never put our family on the line like that again.
Why is design and branding important to Rosa’s?
Our unique design and branding distinguish us from other Thai restaurants in London. We wanted to create a warm and casual atmosphere, and I believe our restaurants design, by Gundry & Ducker, and re-branding by Without®, successfully communicate this to our new and existing customers.
What’s the best reaction anyone’s had to Rosa’s?
We have a couple who live up north, and whenever they are in London, they always go out of their way to visit Rosa’s. Even though they are our regulars, they always leave a lovely note in our feedback card. It always warms our hearts to hear how happy Rosa’s food and service make our customers feel.
Which dish of yours gets the most compliments?
Pad Thai, Green Curry and Stir-fried Aubergines are our top three favourites amongst the fans.
What’s the future for Rosa’s?
Our goal is to get to 10 restaurants across London; we currently have seven.