By Fiona Hughes

Fiona Hughes

 

Bringing a taste of Sri Lanka to Gloucestershire, The Coconut Tree was crowned the New Business of the Year at the Gloucestershire Live Business Awards in 2019. We are taking a look at the story behind their success.

Key business points:
  • Pioneering Sri Lankan street food restaurant group offering a wide range of affordable tapas style dishes and fiery cocktails (nicknamed ‘cocotails’) in a laid-back convivial atmosphere.
  • First restaurant opened November 2016 in St Pauls Cheltenham, and quickly grew to six locations; Oxford, two in Bristol, Cardiff and most recently Bournemouth.
  • Employ 200 staff across their restaurants with 30 based in their Cheltenham head office.
The winning entry:

The popular restaurant has been a go-to place for Sri Lankan street food and fiery cocktails since its launch in 2016. In that short time it has expanded to six sites with the latest restaurant having opened in Bournemouth in December.

The business was originally founded by five Sri Lankan friends who had a vision and an idea with £25,000 contributed equally, but no other financial backing. They worked evenings whilst having day jobs – and within just three months of opening the first restaurant in St Pauls it went to number one on Tripadvisor.

The business benefitted from a high profile brand business person, Anna Garrod who joined the team five months after they opened with a further £15k investment. Garrod had previously rolled out the bar and hospitality chain Po Na Na, leaving as Managing Director. More recently had worked with The Lucky Onion Group where she met two of the Sri Lankan founders. After opening three new sites in 2018, the business tripled its turnover and staff count and are continuing on their rapid growth journey.

Characterised as “laid back and completely full of charm” by Guardian food critic Jay Rayner, customers visit The Coconut Tree in Cheltenham from all over the UK which is now a ‘destination location’.

The Coconut Tree has since won a plethora of regional and national awards in just a few years since it began in 2016.

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