Southsea brothers fulfill their mum's final wish and make national first by opening new wagyu beef kebab restaurant

BROTHERS from Southsea believe their ‘kind-hearted’ mum who died three years ago would be ‘proud’ as they fulfill her last wish by opening their own restaurant.

Saturday, 21st May 2022, 4:55 am

Ashraf and Yousuf Ali have decided to turn their love of food into a career, launching Wagyu Bros, something their beloved mum Laila ‘always wanted.’

The Palmerston Road premises, which is set to open on June 1, will use the world-renowned beef wagyu to make kebabs, burgers, smoked bacon and pastrami.

Southsea resident of 40 years Laila Begum died aged just 54, when she drowned in a swimming pool while on holiday.

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Ashraf Ali, co-owner of Wagyu Bros, alongside his brother Yousuf, said it has taken a year and a half for them to perfect their wagyu donner kebab recipe. Picture: Sarah Standing (190522-7807).

Ashraf, 30, said she had hoped he would open a business with his younger brothers.

‘Before she went on holiday she was really happy because she really wanted us to open a business together,’ he said.

‘Her last words to me were on the night before she left and she gave me a hug and said: “make sure I look after your two brothers.”

‘She would be really happy to see what we’ve done.

Wagyu Bros in Palmerston Road, Southsea, is set to open on June 1. Picture: Sarah Standing (190522-7810).

‘Although my youngest brother Younis isn’t running the restaurant with us, he has found a good job.’

Ashraf said he and Yousuf, 25, are both excited to turn their vision into a reality.

He told The News: ‘It has been a long journey to get here, and we’ve always been massive foodies.

‘We wanted to do something new, and something that people would be excited about and want to eat.

Ashraf and Yousuf Ali from Southsea

‘We then thought, what if we created everyday products that we love to eat with the best beef in the world, which would elevate us to another level.’

The Portsmouth natives previously ran Bangla Bites, after Ashraf was made redundant from a mortgage company.

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Unfortunately, they had to abandon their passion project – making fresh kebabs – as ‘life took over’, Ashraf said.

The 30-year-old’s own mortgage business ‘took off’, and Yousuf had to return to the office for his work with HMRC.

Despite this, they always wanted a return to the hospitality industry.

Ashraf first thought of using wagyu exclusively when he was eating dinner with his wife.

Following discussions and brainstorming between the siblings, the concept was born.

It took the siblings a year and a half to perfect their kebab recipe, making sure it melts in the mouth and has a meaty texture.

Ashraf said: ‘We ran Bangla Bites at weekends to see what the reaction would be, and it was absolutely great.

‘Then we decided we should do something bigger and better.

‘We kept failing and spent thousands, because it’s such an expensive meat, but we have finally mastered it.

‘It is now our biggest unique selling point, the UK’s first wagyu doner kebab.’

The restaurant is a big financial risk for the family.

Ashraf said £120,000 has been spent ahead of the launch, and the house has been re-mortgaged.

The co-owner explained it has taken ‘a lot of effort’ to source the meat.

He said he gets it delivered from small farms in Australia and Chile, keeping the price down to £13 per kilo, rather than £25 if it is bought from London.

Ashraf explained interest has been ‘humongous’, saying some customers are planning to travel from Bedfordshire, Birmingham, and France, to sample the food.