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21-year-old Nazia Sheikh ready to run her own Indian restaurant in Norwich

Nazia Sheikh is the 21-year-old manager at The Mint Room. Photo: Bill Smith

Nazia Sheikh is the 21-year-old manager at The Mint Room. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

At 21, it used to be a tradition to get the key to the door.

But one Norwich woman has taken that to a new level - by getting the keys to the door of a 200-seat capacity restaurant.

While many people of her age are at university or getting their toe on the bottom rung of life’s ladder, Nazia Sheikh is running The Mint Room - an Indian restaurant on Queens Road, Norwich.

Despite it being one of the largest Indian restaurants in Norwich, Miss Sheikh is confident she has the maturity to make a go of it.

Born and bred in Norwich, she’s been dreaming of running and owning her own business since she started working part-time aged just 14.

So when the opportunity came up to take on the former Oasis restaurant, she grabbed it with both hands.

But she is not entirely on her own, as she is getting help from her family in running the restaurant, which was renamed The Mint Room, to give it a “fresher” look and feel.

Older brother Mohammed Ali and sister Aksa Sheikh are helping her make it a success, and she said: “I don’t know anyone in the city younger than me running an Indian restaurant.

“It’s the proudest thing for me at such a young age to be running my own restaurant. I have always aspired to do it and have been working towards it, and have now achieved it.”

The former City of Norwich schoolgirl completed her GCSEs and A-levels and then took a business and accountancy qualification at City College Norwich.

She added: “I started working when I was 14. I worked part-time and on weekends in restaurants and businesses. Sometimes I did 12-hour shifts, so I’m ready for this.

“There’s a great potential here. I worked here before I took it on as owner.

“When the opportunity to take it on came, I just went with it. My mind has always been set on running my own restaurant.

“We’ve done up the interior and the kitchen, and upstairs will in time be refurbished. There will be a different vibe upstairs and there will also be a VIP area. And we’ll change the orange colour upstairs.”

The former 18th century chapel, which has also been a gym, was a popular restaurant for a time when it was known as the Oasis.

Mr Ali said: “It was a very proud moment for the whole family when the restaurant was relaunched and Nazia cut the ribbon at the ceremony.

“The Oasis used to do spectacular trade and was very elegant.

“For the name of the restaurant, the Mint Room, we wanted something different, and not something just associated with Indian restaurants. It had to be catchy and easy to remember, and something fresh - and there’s nothing fresher than mint.”

■ Are you younger than Nazia and running your own business? Email reporter David Bale at david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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