A NEW restaurant which hopes to capitalise on pre-theatre diners and Blackburn's booming new restaurant scene opens its doors tonight.

Business partners Zahid Iqbal and Ash Hussain say they are excited to be opening their new restaurant – East Z East – at King George's Hall.

The restaurant boasts its own luxury VIP private party room.

The £350,000 Punjabi eatery, which includes a South Asian evening restaurant and daytime cafe, has been almost a year in the making.

The pair first got in contact with Blackburn with Darwen Council in November last year to discuss plans to open the 250-seater restaurant.

After getting the keys to the former Blakey’s Bar Cafe, in King George’s Hall, at the end of May they have spent 13 weeks transforming it into a modern restaurant.

The father-of-two, 42, who has previously lived in Whalley and Accrington and first entered in partnership with Mr Hussain last year, said: “I was tasked to find the next location for our business.

“We initially looked at other towns, including Wigan, Warrington and Blackpool, but I saw the niche in Blackburn.

“It needs a fine dining restaurant that serves quality food. Rather than people from East Lancashire going to Manchester for a fine dine restaurant, I want them to come here."

The new diner will offer a South Asian curry menu as well as traditional British dishes, such as fish and chips and afternoon tea.

It includes 11 booths, that can each fit between six and eight people, and a 50-seater bar at the front of the restaurant which serves beer and cocktails as well as soft drinks and coffee.

The restaurant includes a luxury VIP area and a giant chandelier, which contains 5000 crystals and weighs 800kg.

Around 30 jobs have been created.

Mr Hussain, 57, said: "I have known Zahid for a few years and he is an entrepreneur who has a lot of good ideas. I’m excited about coming to Blackburn. So far we have been getting a lot of positive feedback and interest from locals and people outside the area.”

An invite only party is being held tonight and the restaurant will be open from tomorrow.