The long-time manager of Spice of India in Ash Vale has kept its winning mix of quality food and good customer service since becoming owner last year.
Spice of India has been keeping local curry-lovers happy since 1980, earning itself a loyal customer base and an award a few years ago from the Surrey Curry Club.
After 15 years as manager, Sanjay Rahman knows that the key to its success has been to cater to the needs of every visitor who walks through the door.
“Spice of India has a very good reputation,” Mr Rahman said. “There is little passing trade here so we rely on our repeat customers and I know many of them by name."
“We are one of the hotspots for locals and we get well looked after by them. Spice of India is one of the best-known restaurants in the borough.
“We work very closely with the community because we want our customers to come back. If we upset one customer, we might upset 100 because people know each other here.
“We do everything we can for our customers, not just to get their money but to make sure they all enjoy our food and our service.
“They tell us they appreciate the friendly, family-orientated atmosphere we create.”
The restaurant is at the heart of the community. It sponsors junior football teams in Ash and Mytchett, and has raised funds for Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in Farnham.
Mr Rahman regularly donates prizes for raffles and organises plenty of outside catering for birthday parties, weddings and anniversaries.
A couple of years ago, Spice of India introduced a “banquet night” on Tuesdays costing £9.95 per person, including a “banquet take-away” (for collection only).
It has proved to be such a success that diners almost always need to book ahead to get a table. The restaurant also offers a Sunday lunchtime buffet between noon and 3pm.
Spice of India provides all the traditional curry dishes visitors expect. Its biggest sellers include chicken tikka masala, butter chicken and lamb, chicken and prawn baltis.
However, Mr Rahman likes to experiment in the kitchen and has produced some unique dishes including lamb shatkora (medium to hot) and naga chicken (hot).
His most famous creation is a red sauce known among customers as “Sanjay’s Sauce”, which has had a positive response from everyone who has tried it so far.
“We can tailor dishes to suit people’s tastes, or do something off the menu on a quiet night,” Mr Rahman added. “I haven’t yet said no to a request.”