Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 16.45.52The managing director of a new Newcastle restaurant says she is achieving her life’s ambition by opening a new eaterie.

Businesswoman Aysha Pervez is heading a family-run business that has jointly invested more than £400,000 in creating Branches, a contemporary British restaurant that opens in Ponteland on Friday this week (April 1).

Aysha says her aim is to establish Branches, which sits just opposite the entrance to Waitrose, into ‘everyone’s favourite neighbourhood restaurant.’ And she has brought in celebrated North East chef Chris Finnigan to head up the kitchen to help achieve that goal.

The former head chef at Lane7 announced he was leaving the boutique bowling alley and restaurant last month. He says he’s landed his dream job. Chris explained: “Aysha and the team have left no stone unturned in creating a stunning restaurant. Now it’s my job to create a menu that will keep people coming back time and again.

“They’ve given me full backing to craft dishes that will be in keeping with their neighbourhood vision. That means there’s a lot of comforting favourites on there, but I’ve also had free reign to create a few surprising and new dishes too.

“I’m really excited by the opportunity and cant wait to get the doors open on Friday morning.”

The 48-cover restaurant will be open seven days a week from 9am until late for breakfast, lunches, evening meals and modern tapas-style snacks and drinks.

All day favourites like fish & chips, duck hash and macaroni cheese will compete with other more expansive dishes like scallops with black pudding bhaji and confit lobster with parmesan flatbreads.

Aysha added: “Fans of Chris Finnigan’s style will know that even the most ordinary-looking dishes on the menu come with flair and delicious surprises. His food puts a smile on people’s faces and that’s what we think will have customers coming back time and again. We’re thrilled to have him on board.”

Chris Finnigan spent an intense four-year period training under Michelin-starred restaurant legend, Raymond Blanc at le Manoir Aux Quat’saisons in Oxfordshire. When he announced he was to move on from Lane7 last month, he admitted he needed to ‘scratch the itch’ that his classical training under the French legend had given him.

Aysha Pervez, aged 38, spent many successful years operating high end spa establishments in Southern Spain, before returning to the UK five years ago to give birth to her son, Sunni. Prior to that, aged just 21, she successfully launched and operated her own beauty salon at the Copthorne Hotel on Newcastle’s Quayside. Her family has several business interests, predominantly in overseas property development.