A new Argentinian restaurant and bar is set to open in the Grade II listed Leicester building formerly occupied by deli Delilah Fine Foods.
Sonrisa is being launched by Birmingham-based Lasan Group, and will be an offshoot of its well-established Fiesta Del Asado venues in Birmingham and Solihull.
Customers will be able to enjoy a range of Argentinian food, with a small plates menu and full restaurant menu available, along with a wide selection of cocktails and fine wines from Argentina and elsewhere in South America.
The Lasan Group was founded by Jabbar Khan, who opened his first venue – Indian fine dining restaurant Lasan – in Birmingham 2002. As well as the two Fiesta Del Asado restaurants, the group also operates street food cafe Raja Monkey in Birmingham.
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Talking about his decision to open in Leicester, Jabbar told LeicestershireLive:
“We’ve carried out market research and spent quite a bit of time in Leicester and we felt the city was right for our restaurant. It’s a lovely city, especially the heritage quarter (Old Town). It’s the right fit we felt. There’s the right mix of people, and in that particular area it doesn’t feel like it’s in the UK at times. It’s just beautiful.”
Why that particular building?
“It’s got heritage. We love beautiful buildings and any building that has its own character and appeal. It’s a corner building, it’s right next to a historic site and it’s the right size for what we want to do.
“So it’s got the character, the location, the position as well as the space. All in all, it was meant to happen.
“We viewed a number of sites but there was always something that didn’t quite feel right. When we saw this, we knew straight away it would work for us.”
The new restaurant is expected to create at least 40 jobs. Senior roles are already being advertised, with further team members set to be recruited in the near future.
When it comes to the food and drink available, Jabbar says Sonrisa will have Fiesta Del Asado at its core, but with little twists to ensure it suits the area in which it is opening.
“You’ve got lovely little bars and independent places that are offering unique experiences. We felt it’s got a good bar scene so we want to complement that. We’ve got a beautiful bar planned. We also noticed it’s quite a laid back area where people like to spend time throughout the day as well as late in the evening, and our offering lends itself to being consumed throughout the day.
“The food will include a lot of our popular dishes as well as items that will be more suited to complement drinks. We want to encourage people to come and socialise and enjoy a drink or two as well as small plates of beautiful dishes, such as meats and empanadas. They don’t necessarily have to choose a full-on meal visit.”
In terms of drinks, Sonrisa will focus on cocktails and beautiful wines from Argentina and elsewhere in South America. It will also offer a range of beer, non-alcoholic and hot drinks.
Talking about opening a new venue in the current climate, Jabbar said:
“The way I look at it is, I can’t imagine a world without us socialising. Everything revolves around us being able to socialise, whether that’s in bars, cafes, restaurants or hotels. Hospitality is an integral part of our lives.
“Therefore, I see this as a short term inconvenience. If we deliver what we promise, I can’t see why we can’t open a restaurant in difficult times.
“I’m delighted to be able to bring our offering to Leicester, and despite these challenging times ahead, I’m extremely excited and I think people will love what we deliver.”
Refurbishment work is set to begin this coming week, and Jabbar hopes to be able to open Sonrisa in November.