Jaimon Thomas: The Culinary Trailblazer

Jaimon Thomas has founded four successful Leicester restaurants: Kayal, Herb, The Merchant of Venice and, most recently, the Donald Watson Vegan Bar.

In 2004, he established Kayal on Leicester's Granby Street, an award-winning restaurant focusing on South Indian cuisine. The menu was inspired by his mother, who, while living in South India, encouraged her son to introduce authentic Keralan food to the UK. "I'd been planning to open an Italian restaurant, so I'm glad I listened to my mother!" says Jaimon. "I think Kayal is successful because of its South Indian menu, which sets it apart from other Indian restaurants. People are drawn to our seafood dishes, dosas and vadas." 
Leicester's Kayal has given birth to three others: Nottingham, Leamington Spa and West Byfleet, Surrey. 
After opening Kayal, Jaimon was drawn towards vegetarian and vegan food, and in 2017 he opened Herb, a vegetarian South Indian restaurant – also on Leicester's Granby Street. The entrepreneur spotted the growing popularity of meat-free eating and wanted to create a place where fellow plant-based fans could enjoy an unforgettable Indian meal. Ignoring those who told him there was no future for a vegetarian Indian restaurant in Leicester, he stuck to his guns. Today Herb attracts diners from all over the country. 
Jaimon went on to open The Merchant of Venice Coffee Shop & Restaurant in 2019 (thereby scratching his itch to open an Italian), and later The Donald Watson Vegan Bar, located next door to Herb and named after the late British founder of veganism, a former Leicester resident. The bar, which also serves small plates, aims to create awareness about the origin of veganism and the importance of plant-based food and drink. Jaimon says, "I learned about Donald Watson through the Vegan Society. As Donald founded veganism, I wanted to honour his achievements by naming our vegan bar after him. So many people, even vegans, don't know about Mr Watson – I'm delighted to be helping to spread the word." 
Jaimon Thomas is certainly helping spread the plant-based word. But, over the years, he has accomplished far more than that, influencing Leicester's culinary landscape significantly with his inventive restaurants. From his initial venture into South Indian cuisine with Kayal, inspired by his mother, to the establishment of Herb and the Donald Watson Vegan Bar in response to the growing popularity of plant-based diets, Jaimon has been a trailblazer not just in his home city but in the industry as a whole. 

  1. Herb
    Herb in the heart of Leicester focuses on Keralan vegetarian and vegan food. The cooking makes the most of traditional blends of herbs and spices, with most dishes being vegan, nut- and gluten-free. The unique interior is as tasty as the food, and you’ll find Donald Watson’s Vegan Bar next door.
    1. 1 Jan 202431 Dec 2024