A COUPLE from Basingstoke are opening a new Nigerian restaurant in Festival Place in a former hairdressing salon.

Carlee Smith and her fiancé Ezekiel Osundina have spent the last three months refitting the unit just outside the shopping centre, which has been empty for several years following the closure of Crues hair salon.

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Afrizi will offer food inspired by Ezekiel’s Nigerian background.

The 33-year-old, who used to work for Nando’s, moved to Basingstoke when he was 16-years-old and has always had a passion for cooking.

Carlee said: “He has always enjoyed cooking and this grew to the point where it’s what he wanted to do. He wants everyone to experience Nigerian food and there isn’t anything like it in Basingstoke. We want to make Nigerian food the next big cuisine.”

Twenty-two-year-old Carlee, who will manage front of house at the new restaurant, said the menu offers a range of choices from mild to hot, with options including vegan and vegetarian.

She said: “We have a variety of rice which can be paired with different stews. There’s chicken, mutton, tofu or mushroom so we’re catering for everyone.”

The menu, which will all be served in compostable containers giving customers the choice to eat in or takeaway, also includes a range of sides such as chicken gizzards and plantain, chicken wings, lamb chops and puff puff pies, which are a type of savoury doughnut.

The couple, from Oakridge, are preparing to open the doors to the public on Wednesday, May 11.

Carlee, who previously worked as a store manager, said people seemed excited about the new restaurant, adding: “We took down the brown paper from the windows and lots of people walking past were wondering what it is. There’s been a positive reaction and people seem really excited.”

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