Close this search box.

Worker Bee: Meet Tayub Amjad – owner of Zouk Tea Bar and Grill

We celebrate 15 years of one of Manchester's most beloved Asian restaurants, Zouk, by meeting the owner Tayub Amjad and finding out how it all began.
Tayub from Zouk

Tayub Amjad has run Zouk Tea Bar and Grill for 15 years. No mean feat in today’s hospitality climate.

From humble backgrounds working in restaurants, discovering at university that ‘a boring career in finance wasn’t for him, to setting up his restaurant and being his own boss, Tayub and Zouk have been on a great upward journey that has mirrored Manchester’s incredible growth as a city.

Brothers Tayub and Mudassar first dreamed up Zouk back in 2005.

They had just returned from a family holiday and decided to go out for dinner to reflect on their trip.

When they couldn’t agree on a restaurant, they realised nothing quite had the variety they wanted.

And that’s where the idea for Zouk was born.

Zouk’s story is woven with passion, perseverance, and a relentless pursuit of excellence along with adapting to change.

It’s not just hard work in the kitchen, either.

Zouk has run an incredible charity initiative with TwoBrews, who help feed the homeless by collecting donated meals and distributing them to those in need week after week

We sat down with the Owner of Zouk, Tayub Ajmal to look back on 15 successful years in the city.

Worker Bee: Meet…Tayub, owner of Zouk

Tayub Zouk with Chef
Tayub with a chef from Zouk

Tell us about yourself. Your background and recent projects…

My name is Tayub, owner of Zouk.

I set up the business 15 years ago – I can’t believe how the time has flown.

What got you started in your field of work?

Back when me and my siblings were at university, my dad used to say: “If you haven’t got a job, you have to come and work for me!”

None of us wanted to, so we went out into restaurants and got various jobs, like waiter, chef, stuff like that.

In the end, I think I’ve done every job under the sun. Labourer, telemarketer, call centres.. just about everything.

When I finished university, I studied maths, I did not enjoy the corporate lifestyle at all. Very quickly I realised it wasn’t for me.

I was wracking my brain on what to do next and remembered how much I loved working in restaurants. My brother had just finished uni too, and he was adamant that he’d be his boss and I loved that attitude.

I thought, yeah, that’s what I want too.

My dad’s insistence on working for him during holidays nudged me into exploring various jobs, but it was the experience in restaurants that ignited my passion.

We had a bit of a vision at the time to bring Indian and Pakistani fusion food to Manchester, stuff we loved so we set up Zouk back in early 2000.

We wanted to create authentic Indian and Pakistani food, and saw a little gap in the market and just went for it.

I mean at least if it failed, we’d have had some great food to enjoy!

I understood early on that I needed to enjoy what I do.

So, my brother and I decided to venture into the restaurant business.

It’s not always been easy, in fact, it can be hugely stressful with what’s happened over the last few years – but it’s something I love doing, and it makes coming to work each day a lot easier.

Luckily for us, we’ve been pushing the envelope for 15 years now and Zouk has been a huge success thanks to our amazing customers.

Who have been the biggest influences on your work?

My family, without a doubt. Mum and Dad have been very supportive, and travelling widely from a young age has had a huge influence on the food we eat, enjoy, and serve at Zouk.

Wherever we’d go in the world, me and my brother would be keen and excited to try the local food.

Usually, we’d be asking, how can we put a twist on this to make it Indian, give it a bit of flair?

Keeping an open mind always, changing the menu with whatever influences us, and trying to keep the chefs happy.

It can be a stressful job!

What is your proudest achievement so far?

That we are still going strong after fifteen years in the business.

We’ve seen recently how quickly restaurants can go under, with high energy prices and the cost of living crisis. I think us still being here after 15 years is a testament to the people of Manchester loving the food we serve, which is a huge honour.

Not only that – we’ve still got the same core of staff fifteen years on too. Still being excited by the job, constantly changing and challenging each other and being enthusiastic about what we do – I’m so proud of that.

What does your typical day involve?

Usually, I’m up at about 6 am – I live in Leeds so I like to avoid the traffic on the way over.

Breakfast, make a bit of a plan for the day, try and prioritise what is the most important.

Then it’s meetings, meetings, meetings!

And how do you relax on your days off?

I don’t want to sound like that guy, but I think like most entrepreneurs say, you never truly get a day off.

It’s hard to switch off – honestly.

Ideas are always popping into my head, even when I’m hanging out with friends or family.

There’s always something, be it at a play centre with your kids, or the cinema, wherever you are.

That being said, I’ve been getting into padel recently. I also try and play badminton a few times a week to try and keep as active as possible.

What is the best advice you have been given or can give?

Wow, this is hard!

I think over the years, a lot of people have given me some great advice. I mean I’ve also had plenty of bad advice too, but.

Something that sticks in my mind is, you have to be true to yourself, true to your ideas and just go for it.

You might not succeed the first time around but you will learn so much on your journey rather than just sitting around and planning, and never implementing anything.

There will always be people there who put you down or bring a negative attitude but that’s life. I think with most entrepreneurs, probably had someone, somewhere trying to talk them out of it.

Get out there and do it. Things don’t have to be worked out entirely, things often don’t work out but what you’ll learn from trying will be hugely beneficial for your growth as a person.

Just start. It’s the simplest thing, but it’s the most true.

Believe in yourself and your ideas. You never know what might happen.

If things hadn’t worked out, what else could you have seen yourself doing?

I would probably have a boring job in finance!

Tell us one thing about yourself people might be surprised to hear…

People might be surprised, that having lived and grown up in Leeds – I’m a huge United fan.

Red or Blue?

Red of course.

If you could change one thing about Manchester, what would it be?

I think that goes without saying really, the weather.

And finally, what do you love most about Manchester?

There is such an incredible vibrancy about the place – there’s something always going on.

It could be theatre, music, football, art – everywhere you turn there’s something cool and interesting going on. How the city has grown over the last 24 years since I came to uni here has been nothing short of incredible. It’s an electric place to live.

If you’d like to book a table at Zouk, please click here

Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]

Want to be the first to receive all the latest news stories, what’s on and events from the heart of Manchester? Sign up here.


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

Got a story worth sharing?

What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

Close this search box.