The Cat's Pyjamas in Headingley is re-opening

Indian street food restaurant The Cat's Pyjamas is re-opening this month under new ownership.

By Grace Newton
Monday, 20th May 2019, 12:11 pm
The Cat's Pyjamas on Otley Road in Headingley
The Cat's Pyjamas on Otley Road in Headingley

The Headingley favourite closed suddenly in March after the business went into administration and previous owner Alison White was declared bankrupt.

The Cat's Pyjamas had further sites on Eastgate and Briggate in the city centre and in Harrogate and York - but these premises have been repossessed by their landlords and will not re-open.

Bradford-based businessman Aftab Ali has taken over the Otley Road site - which was the first Cat's Pyjamas to open back in 2015 - and has retained the same head chef.

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The restaurant will open again on Thursday May 23 at 5pm.

The previous menu and pricing will remain, and the business will initially open from 5-10pm, although a lunchtime service will be introduced at a later date.

Mr Ali is currently in the process of renewing the premises' alcohol licence, and so is offering customers a 'bring your own booze' arrangement for the first month of trading.

He has previously run food ventures in Bradford, including a pizzeria called Massimo's and a restaurant called Cantina93. Cantina93, which was inside a converted Grade II-listed pub, closed just weeks after opening in the summer of 2015. Mr Ali claimed that the business failed because it did not receive support from Bradford City Council as part of a regeneration scheme called the City Centre Growth Zone. Cantina93 was just outside the boundary for the Growth Zone and was not eligible for financial grants or tax rebates.

"The Cat's Pyjamas is a fantastic brand with good customer loyalty. I've eaten there many times before. We would like to expand but slowly and steadily."

Insolvency practitioner Gareth Lewis, who handled the administration and sale of The Cat's Pyjamas, said:-

"“I am delighted to confirm the sale of goodwill, intellectual property and owned assets of the Headingley site to The Cat’s Pyjamas Headingley Limited, a newly formed company under the control of Mr Aftab Ali. This will enable the re-opening of the Headingley restaurant and allow the Cat’s Pyjamas to live on from the site where it all began in 2015”.

The Cat's Pyjamas - a timeline

2015 - The first Cat’s Pyjamas opens on Otley Road in Headingley

December 2016 - A city centre site on Eastgate opens

June 2017 - The Guardian restaurant critic Jay Rayner reviews the Eastgate restaurant

April 2018 - The York restaurant opens in the old Silvano's premises on Cumberland Street

August 2018 - The Harrogate site opens in a former Prezzo unit on Albert Street

September 2018 - A Sheffield restaurant opens on the trendy Ecclesall Road

October 2018 - The chain’s first administration is announced. All of the sites are immediately purchased in a pre-pack deal by members of Alison White’s family and remain open with no job losses. Plans for openings in Wakefield and Chester are shelved. Alison explained that a reliance on short-term, high-interest loans had 'crippled' the chain. Problems with the power supply at premises earmarked for an opening in Wakefield meant the planned branch could not open fast enough to support the overall cashflow of the business

December 2018 - A fire breaks out at the Harrogate site on Christmas Eve but the restaurant continues to trade

January 2019 - The Sheffield restaurant closes. Alison cites difficulties in travelling from Leeds to Sheffield as a reason for its closure

February 2019 - A new takeaway outlet opens on Briggate in Leeds. Alison announces that the chain has become the first in Leeds to go cashless after a staff member was allegedly robbed of the business’s takings in Headingley. The Headingley site also receives a two-star food hygiene rating from the Food Standards Agency

March 2019 - The chain’s second administration is confirmed and Alison is declared bankrupt. Administrators are appointed to find a buyer. The Harrogate site is permanently closed. The remaining sites are locked by bailiffs. Staff are made redundant