Newton Abbot’s Eastern Eye restaurant is celebrating 30 years of serving glorious food.
A contemporary Indian restaurant, the Eastern Eye has a proud tradition of bringing together authentic flavours with world class presentation and a level of customer service that has created a staunchly loyal customer base.
For the owner, affectionately known as Mr Ali, it has been a journey of success from humble beginnings when the restaurant first opened.
“I started the Newton Abbot Eastern Eye in 1990, having originally arrived in the UK from Bangladesh in 1983,” said Mr Ali. “It has been a dream come true to reach 30 years at the Eastern Eye.
“I previously worked in Birmingham, London, Exeter, Plymouth and actually moved down to Devon from Burnley in Lancashire.
“I was always working in the restaurant industry, anything from kitchen porter to chef, and it has been a pleasure to grow my own business.
“If I think back to 1990, the Eastern Eye was a very different place when we enjoyed the grand opening with the Newton Abbot mayor 30 years ago.
“We started as a very small restaurant, offering a takeaway service and room for just 48 diners, before we added an extension that increased space for 70 people.
“As time went by, we were fortunate enough to purchase the unit next door, which was originally a recruitment agency, followed by the third unit in this row, previously an estate agents. This has now taken us to space for 150 diners.”
It is the dining experience that has enabled the Eastern Eye to thrive over the past three decades, developing friendships with their customers and building a reputation that has reached celebrity diners.
“We are very proud to be an integral part of local life in Newton Abbot,” said Mr Ali.
“We have a large group of loyal customers, people who travel from Torbay and Exeter in some cases.
“It is that overall experience we have worked so hard to develop at the Eastern Eye.
“Due to the tourism industry, a lot of the restaurants in Torbay will naturally see fluctuations in their customer base. For us, we have been part of the community for 30 years and our customers have become our friends.
“We know what people like to eat, where they like to sit and we know their families. Even after 30 years, people are still coming to spend time with us and enjoy the food.
“I never imagined the Eastern Eye would grow into the restaurant we can now provide. As well as the loyal customers, we now have the ability to host large private parties and it has been fantastic to welcome many celebrities down the years.
“We’ve had the Exeter Chiefs and Torquay United enjoying private events here, rugby stars like Jason Leonard and Gareth Chilcott, cricketer Heather Knight, even the politician Nick Clegg has been here for dinner.”
Former Torquay United player and manager Colin Lee is one of those happy to travel from his home in Torquay to enjoy the Eastern Eye: “I’ve known Mr Ali for a very long time, we are always well looked after, the food and the service is excellent. “They welcome you into the restaurant and it almost feels like going into their home, a very special for us.”
The success of the Eastern Eye has also received coveted recognition from the British Curry Awards, twice finishing second in the South West, competing against thousands of restaurants from across Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Bristol.
“I first came to the Eastern Eye while staying on the Passage House Hotel in 2002 before my wife and family joined me in Devon,” said Torbay Weekly director Chris Coward.
“Even though it was a third of its current size then, you could not fail to be impressed by the warmth of the staff and the quality of the food. Once we became permanent residents in Newton Abbot, the restaurant became our second home and we organised both professional events and personal celebrations there, and many of our friends from all over the country have experienced the unique birthday Celebration, and the Sambuca.
“It has been fantastic to watch it grow as Mr Ali is a wonderful man and has become a very good friend. He deserves every success and massive praise for what he has achieved over the last 30 years.”