PLANNING permission is being sought for East Lothian’s first Pepe’s Piri Piri fresh flame-grilled chicken restaurant and takeaway based in Musselburgh.

Young entrepreneur Atif Ali, 27, from Straiton, is diversifying from his buy to let business in Edinburgh to open the new eatery in the former Carers of East Lothian (CoEL) premises at 94 High Street.

CoEL, which supports all adults in a caring situation in the county to get information and services, is moving its base to the new East Lothian Community Hospital in Haddington next month.

Mr Ali is excited at the prospect of opening East Lothian’s first Pepe’s franchise in the Honest Toun, following on the heels of Edinburgh’s first Pepe’s outlet, which was recently opened on Gorgie Road.

He said: “I decided to open up in Musselburgh because of the size of the community. I thought it was suited to be the first location.

“I know there are a lot of new houses being built so it is going to get bigger and the opportunity is great in terms of serving the population.”

With family who are involved in the restaurant and takeaway business in England, he also has friends who have opened Pepe outlets in Falkirk and Rosyth.

He is hoping to get planning permission from East Lothian Council to change the use of CoEL premises from office to hot food use.

Mr Ali said that he would carry out work to create a modern fitted facility “to a high standard” and hoped to be open for business in November if the necessary permissions were granted.

The plan is to retain offices on the first floor, with the Pepe’s eatery, incuding 30 seats and a takeaway, located on the ground floor.

He said six full-time local jobs would be created as well as part-time employment, with the possibility of that increasing if the restaurant became busier.

“I am really excited about it and my friends from Musselburgh think it’s a great idea,” he added.

“The restaurant will be family-orientated with the focus on a healthy lifestyle.”

A spokesman for CoEL said: “Carers of East Lothian has been based in Musselburgh for many years and we have been very grateful for the support we have had from the whole community.

“High Street has been a great location for us but we could not pass up the opportunity to be based in the new East Lothian Community Hospital when it opens at the end of September.

“However, we have always supported unpaid carers across the whole of East Lothian and we are committed to continuing to do so while also working closely with other organisations access Musselburgh to make sure that everyone can access our support.”

He added: “CoEL’s email and their 0131 665 0135 phone number will not change and we encourage anyone who is caring for a friend or family member who is disabled, chronically ill or frail to contact us if they need advice, information, support or even just for an informal chat about how CoEL could help.”