The restaurant is a long-standing fixture on the city’s Golden Mile; a stretch of the Belgrave Road famed for its multitude of Indian restaurants. It was opened by Bhagwanjibha Lakhani who first came to Leicester as part of the forced expulsion of Asians from Uganda in the early 1970s. An enterprising man, he saw an opportunity to serve Leicester’s new Indian population and established the Golden Mile’s very-first fully vegetarian restaurant in 1976, one of the UK’s first Gujarati restaurants.
A family business
Lakhani sadly passed away in November 2017 after more than 40 years at the helm, but Bobby’s remains a family business to this day. The restaurant’s name alludes to the 1973 Bollywood musical romance, Bobby, which was Mr Lakhani’s favourite film, and has had a major influence on the look and feel of the restaurant.
“Rather than a themed restaurant, we wanted to create something that wouldn’t feel out of place if it was in the actual film,” says Tony Matters, Creative Director at Faber. “Much of the visual language of the interior is derived from the visual language of the movie, even down to fabrics and colours and patterns. Bobby – the protagonist of the film – is female, so the design feels very feminine, with lots of soft, curved edges. For example, one of the iconic outfits worn by Bobby is a white shirt with blue polka dots, which we’ve referenced with polka dot fabrics within the design.”
A new deli counter stocked with colourful Indian sweets and delicate savoury pastries creates a nostalgic, candy-store atmosphere as you enter the restaurant, reinforced via the retro cinema-style signage, brass detailing, sugary pastel tones and booth seating. “Bobby’s is also famous for its delicious, freshly-made chaat, so it was only right that the dedicated chaat counter should sit centre stage as you enter the venue,” says Tony.
Creating a cohesive brand
Faber was enlisted to oversee the entire redesign process for Bobby’s; from the interior, to the new logo, menu format, signage and staff uniforms. “We were involved in creating the whole experience,” explains Tony. “This means thinking about how every little detail will sit within the design as a whole; from the napkins, crockery and cutlery, to the presentation of the food, the use of lighting, the clothes worn by staff - it all contributes to how a restaurant makes the customer feel.”
As well as capturing the fun and romance of the film, Faber also wanted to capture the spirit of adventure of Mr Lakhani himself. “Bobby’s is an institution in Leicester with a lot of loyal customers,” says Tony. “We wanted to make the design as memorable as the restaurant and the Lakhani family have become over the past 40-odd years - and I believe we’ve achieved that.”