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Business Gateway helps bring Sri Lankan cuisine to Aberdeen for the first time

20/06/2024

A local couple has brought the vibrant tastes of Sri Lanka to Aberdeen’s dining scene after taking over a restaurant in the city’s Merchant Quarter with the help of Business Gateway.

Husband-and-wife team, Mahinda and Menaka Jayaratne, took over The Exchange Pub & Restaurant in late 2023, eager to offer a fresh take on dining, socializing, and live music. The restaurant, housed in the historic Trinity Chapel of Ease, has been home to various businesses over the years, including an art gallery and various eateries like Musa and Hop & Anchor.

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The Exchange’s menu boasts a delightful fusion of well-loved pub classics like burgers and pies, alongside a range of rich Sri Lankan curries, including chicken, pork, slow-cooked beef, yellow fish, and dhal. The restaurant’s signature seafood and meat-sharing shovels have quickly become a popular hit among locals and visitors alike.

A Celebration of Sri Lankan Heritage

Sri Lankan food is a vibrant showcase of spices, with each dish richly infused with local flavours like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. The cuisine reflects Sri Lanka’s deep heritage, offering unique and tantalizing flavours.

Mahinda Jayaratne, co-owner, said: “We were really keen to bring the flavours of Sri Lanka to the people of Aberdeen, and taking over The Exchange gave us an excellent opportunity to celebrate our home island’s cuisine.

Support from Business Gateway

To turn their dreams into reality, Mahinda and Menaka sought guidance from Business Gateway in Aberdeen. Through Business Gateway, the couple accessed a suite of start-up services, including one-to-one support from a dedicated business adviser, as well as advice on marketing, branding, and HR.

Business Gateway also helped the pair brainstorm ideas on how to attract more customers to the premises and improve their online reviews on Tripadvisor and Google.

Mahinda continued: “The support we’ve received from Business Gateway has been so valuable. I’d like to thank our adviser for all the support and advice, which has helped us get The Exchange off to the strongest start possible.”

Future Plans and Expansion

Looking ahead, Mahinda has plans to introduce new hot plate dishes to the restaurant’s menu, which include fully customizable mains. Customers can select from a choice of seafood and carbs, along with grilled vegetables and a choice of sauce.

The Exchange will also participate in this year’s Taste of Grampian, where they will be serving a selection of popular Sri Lankan dishes. Additionally, the venue is now available for private functions such as birthdays and wedding receptions, with menus available on request.

Sean Cowie, Business Gateway adviser, said: “It’s always rewarding to support a business that’s doing something new in the local area. I know that The Exchange has proved extremely popular with locals and visitors since it first opened, and I’ll continue to work with Mahinda and Menaka as their success continues.”

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