Turkish restaurant credits Eat Out to Help Out for success as it celebrates first year

Cemal Alby, owner of the Gem of Norwich restaurant, which has reached the number one spot on Tripadv

Cemal Alby, owner of the Gem of Norwich restaurant, which has reached the number one spot on Tripadvisor. Picture: Lauren De Boise. - Credit: Archant

A Turkish restaurant which only opened a year ago has said extending the Eat Out to Help Out offer for two months to entice more customers has helped it weather the second lockdown.

Gem of Norwich serves a mix of Turkish, Kurdish and Greek food. Picture: Nebil Avis/Contributed

Gem of Norwich serves a mix of Turkish, Kurdish and Greek food. Picture: Nebil Avis/Contributed - Credit: Nebil Avis

Gem of Norwich opened in Thorpe Road, in the former Prezzo site, in November 2019 and serves a range of hot and cold mezzes, such as falafel and hummus, and grills, including chicken and lamb shish.

It is owned by Cemal Alby, 53, who is originally from the Kurdish region in Turkey, where he worked in catering while studying as a teacher, and he came to England as a refugee 30 years ago.

After working in fashion production for five years, he decided to follow his passion and launched the first Gem Restaurant in Islington in 1999 and before Norwich he also opened branches in Loughton in Essex and Maidstone in Kent.

Business was booming at Gem of Norwich before the first lockdown and the Saturday before it was fully booked, but trade stopped overnight when the restrictions were introduced and Mr Alby decided not to offer takeaways.

Inside the Gem of Norwich restaurant in Thorpe Road Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Inside the Gem of Norwich restaurant in Thorpe Road Picture: Lauren De Boise. - Credit: Archant

READ MORE: Do you know the former names of these Norwich pubs?

It is now closed again due to the second lockdown, but the team are feeling positive after recent success - including reaching the top spot on Tripadvisor for Norwich restaurants, which they celebrated with a bottle of champagne.


You may also want to watch:


Mr Alby said: “When we reopened in the summer I wasn’t very hopeful and waited three weeks later than everyone else, but the response straight away was amazing and the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme really helped.

“Then we thought, let’s introduce ourselves to more people so we did the discount for two more months.

Hot and cold mezzes are on offer at Gem of Norwich, alongside grills Picture: Nebil Avis/Contributed

Hot and cold mezzes are on offer at Gem of Norwich, alongside grills Picture: Nebil Avis/Contributed - Credit: Nebil Avis

Most Read

“This lockdown we have enough people that know us in Norwich to carry on doing takeaways and I’m feeling very positive.”

READ MORE: Korean restaurant that serves ‘KFC’ tells of ‘rollercoaster’ first year

Speaking about the reason for their popularity, Mr Alby added: “I think a lot of things, especially having the right team, price and food.

“Thank you to all the customers that have supported us and I also want to thank my team as we wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for them.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus