The North’s top Indian restaurant laid on the red carpet treatment when one of the biggest stars of the eighties requested an ‘out of hours’ visit.
Raval Luxury Indian Restaurant – named best in the North East at the British Curry Awards – is normally closed on Sundays.
However, manager Avi Malik – dubbed the region’s Curry King after his business’s success at the prestigious London awards ceremony last November– made an exception for former Fine Young Cannibals frontman Roland Gift and his band.
Raval is no stranger to accommodating unusual requests – it once allowed football legend Alan Shearer and friends to cook in its kitchen and has also regularly played host to Royal Television Society parties that have gone on into the early hours.
So when the Birmingham-born singer – whose band topped the UK and US album charts in 1989 – asked if he could eat at Raval ahead of his appearance at Gateshead’s Sage Music Centre last night, Mr Malik was only too happy to oblige.
He said: “We are normally closed on Sundays as, unlike many restaurants, we are quieter at weekends.
“That’s because most of our clientele tend to be visiting business people, many of whom are staying at the nearby Hilton Hotel.
“However, when I got a call from the band’s agent asking if they could visit our restaurant, I was thrilled. Clearly, in the aftermath of our success at the British Curry Awards, it would appear word is getting out about us.
“Given that there is a huge choice of restaurants in and around Newcastle, I’m delighted Roland and his band saw fit to seek us out.
“I’m a huge believer in going out of my way to give first-class customer service, so although opening for just two hours to accommodate the band was a lot of hard work, I felt it was a really worthwhile thing to do.
“And, certainly, the feedback we received was very positive. Roland – who knows a thing or two about curries due to his Birmingham roots – told me our food was among the best he had tasted at home or abroad.“