Founder of Mowgli Street Food Nisha Katona is setting up a new Liverpool HQ for her fast-growing restaurant chain in the same office where she began her career as a barrister. Tony McDonough reports
Fast-growing restaurant chain Mowgli is to set up a new headquarters in Liverpool city centre from which founder Nisha Katona will mastermind its rapid expansion.
And the new 3,405 sq ft office space at 18 Queen Avenue off Dale Street will bring back strong memories for Nisha who began her career as a barrister in the same building, working for Chavasse Court Chambers.
After practising as a barrister for more than 20 years, Ms Katona opened her first Mowgli outlet in Bold Street in Liverpool in 2014. She had already written three cookery books prior to this and was known as ‘the Curry Evangelist’ on YouTube. However, she had vowed never to open a restaurant.
Now there are 13 Mowgli outlets across the UK. In October 2021 it was announced that the business would be employing 700 people by the middle of 2022. Five Mowglis are due to open over the next year.
Mowgli’s concept is rooted in her own family’s cooking heritage. After opening her first restaurant she made another pledge that would also eventually be broken: “Not a bone in my body that wanted to give up any equity.”
But that too quickly changed when she was convinced of the growth potential of the Mowgli brand. In 2017, when Mowgli was operating just two restaurants – one in Liverpool and one in Manchester – Foresight Group recognised its potential and injected £3.5m of growth capital into the business. Since then, the expansion has been rapid.
Nisha said: “It has been a real whirlwind since I opened the very first Mowgli on Bold Street seven years ago but, as we continue to expand to other locations, we are proud to be one of the first national chains to come out of Liverpool, creating jobs and community wealth up and down the country.
“An incredibly loyal customer base and excellent Mowgli team have allowed the business to thrive and that success meant we needed a new base of operations that would give us a platform for future growth. It means that the head of London businesses needs to come to Liverpool to meet me, and that makes me very proud.
“When I discovered that we might be able to move into my old chambers, I jumped at the chance. Everything has come full circle and it feels tremendously exciting and also slightly surreal to be returning to my old chambers with our thriving street food business.
Chavasse Court Chambers, for whom Nisha worked specialising in child protection cases, has now relocated to nearby 24 Queen Avenue to support its own business development activity.
Mowgli has agreed a deal with Queen Avenue owner Bruntwood Works to take over the space which is just yards from another Mowgli outlet, located on the corner of Castle Street and Water Street.
Nisha added: “We’ve worked closely with Bruntwood Works for some time to understand how we may be able to use the space and the timescales around making that happen. We are really excited to move into our new home and continue to plan for the bright future that lies ahead of us.”
As well as being a base for the planning of Mowgli’s UK expansion drive, the office will also feature space for new recipe development, online retail and the work of the Mowgli Trust charitable foundation.
Tony Reed, head of commercial at Bruntwood Works in Liverpool, said: “Queen Avenue is one of Liverpool’s most beautiful and dynamic addresses and the arrival of Mowgli, a successful independent business born in Liverpool, feels like a perfect fit.
“We very much look forward to welcoming Nisha and her team and I’m sure they will be an extremely popular addition to the Queen Avenue community.”