The Desi pub in Dudley serving good quality food and drink and where everyone is welcome
As pubs continue to battle the cost of living crisis, the Express & Star continues its Love Your Local series which celebrates our local inns.
Tapri Punjabi bar and grill in Gornalwood, Dudley, is a newly-opened pub and the owners are hoping to win over the locals by serving good food and good beers.
Business partners Raj Patel and Jas Singh opened the pub in January this year, following the success of their Sutton Coldfield branch, and they have adopted the same name as their coffee shop business, which has one store in the Mander Centre in Wolverhampton, and one in Kettering.
According to Raj, the name Tapri means tea stall, which is similar to the name chai-wallah, which in Hindi is someone who serves tea, and he said the name came about while on a family holiday to Mumbai, India.
Having witnessed a 'tapri-wallah' in India, where all were welcome, no division, people of all walks of life were welcome to enjoy the chai, this is how their business Tapri in Dudley is run, where everyone is welcome; men, women, families, anyone, where they can enjoy the environment and the food and drink on offer.
Raj said: "I grew up in Wolverhampton but spent a lot of time in Dudley as I have a lot of family there.
"So myself and my business partner started with the coffee shops, then opened the Sutton Coldfield Indian bar & grill in 2021, following the Covid pandemic and that was interesting as it was just after the restrictions were lifting.
"We noticed then that the way people go out to dine is different now, and more people want bookings, so we offered that.
"Then I happened to be driving past this place [in Gornalwood] and saw that the pub was on the market, and we were on the lookout for a second site, so we thought why not, let's go for it.
"We opened in January and it started off well, but as time went on we found that we, as experienced businessmen, needed to make a readjustment to the business.
"We feel that we maybe priced ourselves out slightly, with prices a bit too high so we did a reassessment, and of course with the cost of living now too, we decided to redesign a new menu, launched with new pricing that is more competitive and affordable, and that is both on the bar side and on the food side.
"There has definitely been a good response to that, and so now we are trying to win over the locals and give the customers what they want.
"It was a process of becoming efficient and it is growing nicely now, so we're pleased that we were able to recognise that and make the changes needed."
The pub offers a vast menu, with a range of items such as curries, biryanis, and what seems to be the Black Country's favourite item and pub-speciality right now, the famous mixed-grill.
A huge wave of popularity of 'Desi pubs' have risen around the Black Country in recent years, where pubs that were maybe once struggling or just simply had a transformation and change with the times, now serve top quality Indian food, including the ever famous 'Mixed Grill', which arrives to your table sizzling on a platter, with a range of items including tandoori fish, lamb chops, chicken tikka - the options are endless and mouthwatering.
Desi pubs have become a hit with locals and even people from afar, as diners from all over the country head to the Midlands to eat the famous mixed grills, as it is here in the Black Country that the famous sizzling platters are the most famous and most tasty.
Raj added: "Whilst it is still very much a pub, the food is like restaurant style, served to your tables but it still also has a pub feel.
"But whilst it is still a pub, it is much more family friendly, giving it an Indian gastro-pub feel, and we have done this by making sure that the beers and pints we serve are fresh and tasty, and also made sure the food is quality and tasting good, which of course makes people want to come back.
"And now with our price adjustment, we are probably the cheapest in the area for a pint of Carling, so it was all about being more competitive, and we have done that.
"The mixed grills have seen a massive boom in recent years, and we wanted this but not for just a male-dominated environment but to welcome families and women too.
"We are getting groups of ladies come out here for a night out too, which is great to see them enjoying the food and drinks that we have on offer, and it proves that we are doing something right by making it a friendly environment where all are welcome.
"And with a new level of custom for cocktail drinkers, we are able to serve them too with a range of cocktails on offer, as well as the traditional drinks, so we wanted to offer options to everyone.
"Now, it is about doing the right marketing and getting our name out, and hopefully people will make it their local."
One of the reasons the Express & Star launched the 'Love your local' feature was to help the pub trade, and we hope that readers will read this and want to visit Tapri, and give it a chance to maybe become their local.
Pubs have gone through a torrid time with the Covid pandemic and now the cost of living crisis, and owners, landlords and ladies are noticing the drop in trade as wallets become tighter.
Raj added: "Customers aren't maybe going out as much now, and so when they do come here, we want to give them good quality for their money, and so we cater for the locals and provide a service that is good for their money that they spend with us.
"We have all the live sports on here too, with Sky Sports, BT Sport, and are also in the process of opening a function room for small parties, and that will be ready in the next couple of weeks.
"There is also a beer garden with decking that the customers can enjoy, especially in the summer evenings.
"As we said, this is a good quality pub, serving traditional Punjabi food, and it is an environment where all are welcome."