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New Turkish restaurant opens its doors in Norwich

Cemal Alby, owner of the Gem of Norwich restaurant which has opened in the former Prezzo site on Thorpe Road. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Cemal Alby, owner of the Gem of Norwich restaurant which has opened in the former Prezzo site on Thorpe Road. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

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The owner of a new family-run Turkish restaurant in Norwich is hoping to bring a new lease of life to the former Prezzo building.

The new Gem of Norwich restaurant on Thorpe Road will serve a mixof Turkish, Kurdish and Greek food. Picture: Nebil Avis.The new Gem of Norwich restaurant on Thorpe Road will serve a mixof Turkish, Kurdish and Greek food. Picture: Nebil Avis.

Cemal Alby, 52, has opened his fourth restaurant The Gem of Norwich in Thorpe Road, following the success of branches in Loughton in Essex, Maidstone in Kent and his original Gem opened in Islington in 1999.

The restaurant will serve a range of hot and cold mezzes, including hummus, halloumi and falafel, alongside meat dishes such as chicken or lamb shish, lamb cutlets and a mixed barbecue.

For those with a sweet tooth, the dessert menu features baklava, layers of filo pastry with walnuts and ice cream, and a sutlac, which is an oven-baked rice pudding.

Mr Alby is originally from the Kurdish region of east Turkey, where he worked in catering while studying as a teacher, and came to England as a refugee 30 years ago.

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After working in fashion production for five years, he decided to follow his passion and open his first restaurant and he hasn't looked back since.

The new Gem of Norwich restaurant on Thorpe Road will serve a mixof Turkish, Kurdish and Greek food. Picture: Nebil Avis.The new Gem of Norwich restaurant on Thorpe Road will serve a mixof Turkish, Kurdish and Greek food. Picture: Nebil Avis.

His latest opening is in the former home of Prezzo, which was one of 94 branches that shut in 2018, and his nephew Ozzi Akis will be the manager.

Mr Alby said: "Over the last 10 years lots of people have been going on holiday to Turkey and discovering our food and it is also fresh and healthy and people like the sharing element too.

"Chains have a system but not the personal touch and I believe we will take care of our customers like guests in our home, which is part of our culture.

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"I didn't know much about Norwich so when I saw the place for sale I stayed here with my wife and sister for a few days and felt that we could live here, which means we could do business here. We felt welcome straight away."

On the drinks menu, there is also a range of cocktails and from 12pm to 4pm daily, guest can get bottomless wine, rosé, prosecco and soft drinks with hot and cold mezzes for £24.99 per person for two hours.

Cemal Alby, owner of the Gem of Norwich restaurant which has opened in the former Prezzo site on Thorpe Road. Picture: Lauren De Boise.Cemal Alby, owner of the Gem of Norwich restaurant which has opened in the former Prezzo site on Thorpe Road. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

The Gem of Norwich is open 12pm to 11pm Sunday to Thursday and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

The new Gem of Norwich restaurant on Thorpe Road will serve a mixof Turkish, Kurdish and Greek food. Picture: Nebil Avis.The new Gem of Norwich restaurant on Thorpe Road will serve a mixof Turkish, Kurdish and Greek food. Picture: Nebil Avis.

Some of the cocktails served at the new Gem of Norwich restaurant on Thorpe Road. Picture: Nebil Avas.Some of the cocktails served at the new Gem of Norwich restaurant on Thorpe Road. Picture: Nebil Avas.

Inside the Gem of Norwich restaurant which has opened in the former Prezzo site on Thorpe Road, Norwich. Picture: Lauren De Boise.Inside the Gem of Norwich restaurant which has opened in the former Prezzo site on Thorpe Road, Norwich. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Cocktails being prepared at the new Gem of Norwich restaurant on Thorpe Road. Picture: Nebil Avas.Cocktails being prepared at the new Gem of Norwich restaurant on Thorpe Road. Picture: Nebil Avas.

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