A multi-million-pound, award-winning SL-themed restaurant chain started from scratch by Sri Lankans living in the UK, “The Coconut Tree”, officially launched their brand in Sri Lanka on the 17th of February 2023. Having achieved wild success in the UK for showcasing the flavourful and colourful tastes of Sri Lanka, “The Coconut Tree” is now ready to franchise its brand here in Sri Lanka, helping to further invest in the local food service industry and local talent, as part of its global expansion initiative.
The official launch event was held at the Hilton Colombo with the participation of the founders, dignitaries, and guests. Many investors and influential stakeholders within Sri Lanka’s food service industry also attended the event.
Discussing the launch, Mithra Fernando – CFO at The Coconut Tree said, “What began as a hobby and a passion for marrying Sri Lankan culinary flare and British pub culture has now grown into a major business that is looking at global expansion, and this is our grand return home to Sri Lanka. We want to bring back what we’ve learned to Sri Lanka, and help to use our success to create further value here. As it is, we work with local producers in Sri Lanka, from brands like Ma’s Kitchen to various small suppliers for our spices and other ingredients. This is providing them with direct access to the UK and an important stream of export revenue. We want to be able to further expand opportunities for local producers. We want to bring our signature “Coconut Tree” experience here to Sri Lanka; exceptionally authentic Sri Lankan food, complemented by the classic British drinking culture and our range of Sri Lankan-inspired cocktails. We want to help Sri Lanka grow with us!”
With a successful track record of building a 10-million-pound business with a team of 300 people, the founders are confident in their ability to create value and establish a unique food experience for both locals and foreign visitors. Through a franchising model of operation, the team is preparing to provide investment opportunities for Sri Lankans interested in joining their venture and supporting the Chain’s ambitions of global expansion.
The Coconut Tree has won multiple awards, solidifying its status as an exceptional culinary establishment, including OX Magazine saying, “It’s youthful and authentic, cool and energetic, outrageously delicious and improbably affordable”. In 2022, the restaurant was a finalist for the Best Restaurant award at both the Bath Life Awards and Cardiff Life Awards and also won the Silver award for Best Casual Dining at the Bristol, Bath & Somerset Tourism Awards. The Bristol Life Awards named The Coconut Tree as the winner of the Best Bar award in both 2021 and 2022, while the restaurant’s VIP catering service impressed at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and the Henley Royal Regatta in 2021.
Other accolades include being named Best Restaurant at the So Glos Awards in 2020 and a finalist for the Best Restaurant award at the Bristol Life Awards in both 2020 and 2021. The restaurant also received recognition for its vegetarian and vegan offerings, with finalist nods in the V-Friendly Restaurant of the Year category at The Vegetarian & Vegan Awards in 2020 and Best Veggie/Vegan Restaurant at the Ox in a Box Awards in the same year.
The Coconut Tree was also a finalist for the Best New Business award at the Cardiff Life Awards in 2020 and a finalist for Best UK Operator at the Restaurant Magazine R200 Awards in the same year. In 2019, the restaurant was a finalist for the International Icon Awards and Bath & Bristol Crumbs Magazine Awards, as well as being named the Best New Business at the Bristol Life Awards. The Restaurant also won the Diner’s Choice Award in 2018 from OpenTable for its Oxford and Cheltenham locations, as well as the Gloucestershire Restaurant of the Year award at the So Glos Lifestyle Awards. The Coconut Tree was also a finalist for the Customer Service Award at the Cotswold Life Magazine in the same year, and won Best Restaurant and Bar at the Cheltenham Business Awards. The Observer Food Monthly Awards has also recognized The Coconut Tree as the runner-up for Best Cheap Eats in the South West in both 2017 and 2018.