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Into The Fire: Adeel & Iftikhar Khan

Ben Robinson and the Confidential column examining restaurant and bar proprietors

Written by . Published on December 11th 2012.

Into The Fire: Adeel & Iftikhar Khan

ADEEL Khan and Faisal Mayet are two university friends who went travelling around Europe and gorged themselves on pancakes. They felt nothing but they’d returned and failed in their search for the flattest of all cakes.

Pancake CornerPop-Up Pancake CornerSo at 24 years of age they opened Pancake Corner in Urmston a year ago. Since then Adeel’s cousin Iftikhar has also joined the young entrepreneurs. 

Following a great response from locals in Urmston the trio have set their sights on expanding into Manchester city centre and claiming the crown of the long-gone Dutch Pancake House - remember that in St Peter's Square. Their newest venture is a pop-up in Spinningfields adjacent to the ice rink.

On a cold December night Adeel and Iftikhar Khan found some time out to talk pancakes. 

Do you prefer sweet or savoury?
Adeel Khan:
“When we first started it was sweet but now it’s definitely savoury. We do a Cajun which is my favourite with BBQ sauce, Cajun spiced chicken and mozzarella cheese - it’s gorgeous.”

Iftikhar Khan: “To be honest I’d never even heard of savoury pancakes before we opened. But since we started fifteen months ago I’ve only had about five sweet pancakes. Cheese pancakes with anything works for me, cheese and egg is my favourite.”

Which country/city makes the best pancakes?
“I’d have to say Holland. They’re slightly different, in France they're crepes of course. In Holland you just get a big plate with all the toppings piled on top. Den Haag probably does the best.”

Why pancakes?
“When we came back from holiday we realised that you can’t get pancakes in Manchester that easily. In London you can get them everywhere so we thought ‘Why not ?’ I woke up one morning and wanted a pancake for breakfast but instead of making one for myself I thought if we opened a café then everyone can enjoy pancakes in Manchester.”

What do you enjoy most/least about running Pancake Corner?
“What I enjoy most obviously is testing the pancakes out and having a little play with the recipes. I work every day but when it’s your own business you don’t mind doing that. What I do hate is that because it is our own thing we have to do all the little things as well like clean the toilets. It’s like being the CEO and the cleaner and everyone else at once.”

IK: “The best part for me is customer satisfaction and feedback and the Twitter feed going mad. On Saturday I didn’t move from the stall making three or four hundred pancakes…”

AK: “We’ve got a new term called ‘Pancake Elbow’, with all the whisking and rolling the batter round you get a bit of a twitch in your elbow after a while.”

IK: “We’ve not found a cure yet.”

PancakesAmerican Pancake StackDo you have any plans to expand or change the menu?
“At the moment we’ve got the ‘Winter Warmer’ which is about to go live, so in the run up to Christmas we’ll have different specials. We’ll have an apple crumble filling, mince pie filling and for the kids we’ll have a ‘Cookie Crumble’ special which is cookies, Nutella and cream and always goes down well at the shop.

“The menu is definitely expanding all the time we’ll be doing waffles and American pancake stacks. You can even make salad bowls with the pancake being the bowl and filling it with different salads. For our launch we also did pancake canapés where we added spinach and red onion to the batter and made it into a roll with cream cheese. It’s ridiculous how flexible pancakes are, you can literally do so much with it like bread and pizza dough.”

Are you competing with the Christmas Market pancake houses?
“We tried them the other day and they’re really nice but they’re only here once a year. What we want to do is have people thinking about Pancake Corner when they think about pancakes. Those guys come in at Christmas but for us it’s a whole yearly thing.”

IK: “We’re a pop-up here at the moment but we want to be a mainstay because we’re from Manchester. We’ve got one shop so far and we want another two, three or four, we want to be the next Dutch Pancake House - which everyone seems to go on about.”

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GordoDecember 11th 2012.

repeat after me Ben, do not take back lit portraits with no flash, do not take back lit portraits with no flash...

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