09 | Oct | 14

Richard Johnson

High Rola

Rola Wala made a real success of their time in Trinity Kitchen. They killed it/smashed it/hurt it really badly — and set the standard against which all other street food traders in TK still measure themselves. Having worked with Mark Wright, the co-founder of Rola Wala, I know he has drive. And imagination. And a product — Indian street food with a bold, fresh twist — that’s truly different. So when a permanent position came up in Trinity Kitchen, he decided to move from London to Leeds to make it happen. This month, the Rola Wala restaurant opens. It’s the first in a new wave of street food traders going into bricks and mortar, and comes a few months before three traders open up franchises in Euston Station, with a handful of others looking at crowd funding to finance their moves onto the high street.

The Guardian has suggested it’s the beginning of the endOn the contrary. We see it as the end of the beginning. Why should street food traders not be allowed to make money out of their businesses? Their ideas? Why should they have to stay working on the streets, in just the one van, because it suits someone else’s world view? Mark won’t stop working the streets, and Rola Wala — the restaurant — will be a massive success. The heart of the new operation will be a robata ‘Mega Flame Grill’ — he could never cook on something like that outdoors. Plus he’s put together a new menu, including the vegan Channa Dal Felafel, which is part of a range of new rolls set to ignite Leeds. One informs the other. The two approaches to food service are not mutually exclusive. 

As with MEATliquor, Pitt Cue, Homeslice and Patty and Bun, we are about to see a new different incarnation of a brand. And that’s exciting. “We started on the streets of London and in a little over a year we’re opening our first restaurant” says Mark. “From our time trading at Trinity Kitchen in April we found that the people of Leeds love top quality food; Leeds has got it going on and we are going to BRING IT! For us it’s all about going that little bit further to deliver the best dishes we can, from the local Yorkshire produce we use, to the quality of our freshly ground and roasted spices, it’s all about ingredients; our rolls have up to 43 of them so we need them to be the best!”