The team behind one of the North East’s favourite Indian restaurants, who pioneered the Indian street food concept, have won a David and Goliath-style trademark fight against an international hotelier.

Dabbawal, a renowned Indian restaurant which was founded in Newcastle in 2008, was one of the first fully-fledged street food restaurants in the UK. Since its opening, the concept of serving Indian street food in a restaurant-style setting has become incredibly popular across the country.

The owners of Dabbawal were dismayed to realise that, earlier this year, The Leela Group, one of India’s biggest hoteliers, which has a restaurant called Jamavar in London, planned to open a new restaurant in the capital’s exclusive Mayfair, called Dabbawala.

The name Dabbawal is derived from the famous dabbawala’s of Mumbai. At lunchtime in this bustling city, dabbawalas flood the streets. These bicycle-riding delivery men transport freshly made, home-cooked food to thousands of office workers across the city, and the authentic dishes they deliver are made from recipes stretching back generations.

Jane Matthews, business development manager at Dabbawal, said: “Over the years we have become accustomed to a number of operators replicating our innovative ideas, but through constant development we have always stayed ahead of the market. However, The Leela Group began to market their new restaurant as ‘Mumbai’s hottest new export’, championing the dabbawalas, and looking to serve street food and chaats, along with home-style recipes, all of which are an integral part of the Dabbawal concept. We decided that we had to take action to protect the Dabbawal brand, which we have worked so hard to grow over the past decade.”

The team at Dabbawal presented a robust legal challenge, via London law firm Sheridans, based at Wardour Street. Sheridans successfully argued that Dabbawal is a registered trademark established over a number of years, and demonstrated that they were at the forefront of the UK’s street food scene and have since made a national impact.

The owners of the proposed new restaurant backed down in mid-October, and have instead called the new venue Bombay Bustle.

Jaf Ali, owner of Dabbawal, said: “We are delighted with the outcome of this case, and would like to thank Sheridans for fighting our corner so successfully against one of India’s biggest hoteliers. Our name is very special to us, and represents the heart of what we do, so we could not stand by and see it duplicated in this way.”

Dabbawal has two venues in the North East. The first 70-seat restaurant opened on High Bridge in Newcastle city centre, and proved to be such a hit that the team opened a second restaurant in one of Newcastle’s popular suburbs, Jesmond, featuring 82 seats plus a veranda.

For further information about Dabbawal, visit