We Grill: Romero’s
Mohammed Ali is the owner of Romero’s in Clitheroe, Lancashire. The kebab and pizza house has been in the market town since 1989 – one of the first to open – and Mohammed has worked there for 28 years. With a population of just 15,500, the town now has seven kebab and pizza houses, however, despite the competition, Romero’s continues to be one of the most popular and has maintained a 5* food standards rating since it opened.
What is your best selling kebab?
Chicken! We get through 100kg of chicken a week and we sell around 100 chicken kebabs on a weekend and 30 Monday to Thursday – a good number considering the size of the town. It has become a very popular kebab over the last few years, compared to when we first opened. We marinate the chicken for one day in a spicy sauce (which includes garlic powder, oregano and tandoori masala), vegetable oil, lemon and salt. It is then cooked to order on the charcoal grill – around eight minutes each side – and served in a white pitta bread with salad and a choice of sauces such as chilli, garlic mayonnaise or BBQ. Our next best seller is a shish kebab – with lamb meat – and then our mixed kebab, which is a selection of chicken, shish and doner – both served in the same way as the chicken variety.
Can kebabs be healthy?
Yes. Because we grill the kebabs on the charcoal oven, all the fat drains out of the meat so all the customer is eating is lean, tender and flavoursome meat. Customers can choose to make their order even healthier and lower in calories by opting for a small portion, having it without sauce or pitta bread, and with plenty of salad.
What’s so good about a kebab?
Done correctly, the kebab is one of the most flavoursome dishes you can eat. They are so versatile you can use your imagination with any ingredients and flavours you like. Kebabs are such a delicious meal it is great to see finally that other outlets are now incorporating them on to their menu.
Who are your customers?
We are very lucky to have had such loyal, local support for almost 30 years. Our customers tend to be regulars – the same customers come in at the same time every week and order the same dish, so there is a real sense of community about Romero’s as everyone knows everyone! I’m pleased to say that we have built up a good reputation so a lot of local businesses including offices, factories, pubs that don’t have a kitchen and a local, independent school order in bulk from us. There is a lot of competition in our small town, so I’m grateful for the constant support and clearly we are doing something right!
When are your busiest times?
The weekend, obviously. We open from 4pm until 1.30am on Friday and Saturday and for me and my team of six it is non stop. Mondays are busy too. I think people are tired after the weekend and can’t be bothered to cook – which is great for us!
What’s your most popular weekend dish?
People assume it’s a doner kebab but actually it’s pizza! Customers go mad for it at the weekend and it’s a constant seller – we go through nearly 200 on a Friday and Saturday, and it’s the best-selling dish on a Sunday too. Thick crust is the most popular and deep pan is popular at the weekend. Our best-selling topping is meat feast, followed by ham and pineapple, then vegetarian.
Are doner kebabs still popular?
Yes! They are a solid income over the weekend that I don’t think will ever go out of fashion. Doner meat is minced meat with spices cooked on a skewer and served in a pitta with sauce and salad. Therefore, the doner kebab attracts a specific type of customer – mainly a late night one – who just wants a tasty, fast food.
What else do you sell?
Chips are very popular – customers love them! We get through 20 boxes of frozen chips every week. Our burgers aren’t selling as well at the moment so I’m thinking of making my own American-style ones. We will ask the customer what size of burger they want, so they can have them as thick as they like, and cook them to order on the charcoal grill to get that BBQ appeal.
What doesn’t sell?
Vegetarian and fish kebabs didn’t sell, so I took them off the menu. Veggie burgers never sold either, and when it comes to a kebab the customer only ever wants it in a white pitta – wholemeal has never sold.
Do you use social media to advertise?
No. We don’t have a website or social media page. I know this makes us very behind the times but we have never needed one. We have been here so long, everyone knows where we are or has our leaflet stored in a drawer at home or work, so they can reach us!