Actor Noman Masood's colourful new restaurant in Islamabad is a sight for sore eyes

Actor Noman Masood's colourful new restaurant in Islamabad is a sight for sore eyes

What began as a bid to move away from relying on the turbulent entertainment industry has become a dream come true for the actor.
23 Jun, 2021

Baandi star Noman Masood was sick of waiting around on calls from producers and production houses at the age of 53, so he decided to take charge and start an enterprise where he could become more self-reliant. And so, Khaaba by Noman Masood was born.

The desi cuisine restaurant attempting to revolutionise the food options available in Islamabad stands as an iconically colourful multi-storey building in the F7 Markaz. It is an unusual sight in the bureaucratic capital.

Masood told Images that the project was the result of a "midlife crisis". Even after all that he's done, he said, there is more he can and wants to do.

"At my age, you don't qualify as a young man and neither as an old one — you find yourself stuck somewhere in the middle. I still feel young and my friends and I have kept ourselves fit, perhaps credited to our diets back in the day," he said.

Speaking on what made him venture out of the entertainment and art business and into hospitality, he said, "During my last three to four years in Karachi, I learnt that work in the media industry was slow. Most scripts I would receive wouldn't inspire me and only once in a while would I get something worth doing. At this age in Pakistan, they don't really consider you for a hero's role, and I found myself just waiting for the right call. I felt suffocated."

Masood revealed that he felt motivated by the government's efforts to promote tourism and the fact that lack of international travel meant tourists rushing to the Pakistani north. His first idea was to set up something in Nathia Gali, a popular spot for local and international tourists. He's still working on the project there but it has its own unique challenges and struggles.

"I travelled to Islamabad for a day at the request of my business partner and that's where I saw this building. It was a plain and simple Islamabad-style building. I thought I'd do something excited with it, and then I started Khaaba," he said.

"I didn't know what sort of a building I'd create. I like playing with colours and lights, I've been doing it for years, so I made this colourful building. It's been very successful, and I'm so grateful to God," he said.

He said he designed the place himself. "My architect friend was confused, 'Who paints a building like this?' she would ask. I told her to just trust me, and bill me."

Now that his vague idea for a restaurant has become an eye-catching fan favourite, Masood believes it's the result of his mother's well wishes.

"My mother died last year. I told her several time that I'd like to open a restaurant, and she would say let's do it in Islamabad. I had brought her to Karachi with me, and she always missed Islamabad," he reminisced.

"Now her grave is in Karachi and the very next year, God sent me to Islamabad for this."

Living and working alone, he said, has been tough. Especially because he has spent his life living with his family where decisions and troubles are dealt with communally. Even from afar though, Masood said his family has been a great help for him.

Masood doesn't wish to stop just here. He wants to develop the single-location restaurant into a chain and take it to other cities of the country and maybe even beyond.


Raza Chanesar Jun 23, 2021 02:37pm
Well done Noman. Best wishes
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ABE Jun 23, 2021 02:44pm
Cheesy, Gaudy and tatesless looking restaurant! Do we wonder what the food is like??
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Mahmood Jun 23, 2021 02:52pm
Unchi dukan, phika pakwaan. A good restaurant is more the colorful exterior, interior decoration or location. It is the quality of the food and service that counts. The proof of the pudding is always in the eating. A good business does not even need to advertise or scream to be noticed. Word of mouth and recommendations from previous patrrons will get free publicity.
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Saad(DXB) Jun 23, 2021 03:47pm
@Mahmood Are you criticizing just for the sake of criticism or did you actually eat at the restaurant? Attacking someone for their hard work and efforts is not appreciated. At least he is achieving his dreams and goals by taking a risk in the middle age, which actually seems to be paying off. What have you done in life?
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Babar Jun 23, 2021 03:48pm
Some sad comments here. How many of you have been here to try the food? Yet you already have a negative opinion on it. You guys must really sap the positivity out of your friends and relatives, such a pleasure to be around! We should support such entrepreneurs efforts, not bring them down.
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Javed Nazir Jun 23, 2021 04:39pm
Wish you good luck dear Don’t pay attention to negative comments
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Kemariwala Jun 23, 2021 06:02pm
MashaAllah looks beautiful, keep it up. Looking forward to visiting it one day. Ignore the meany heads and follow your dreams.
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Iqbal Hadi Zaidi Jun 23, 2021 06:21pm
Well done but not even half rather less than half done to be honest which not many even read my remarks, forget about commending my remarks, but please be a little patient and neither criticize me nor scold me simply because once you have read me from A 2 Z you will eventually appreciate me and not condemn me unless I am an inborn lucky. It is human nature to look for something new so colorful building is a certainly a plus not minus but at the same time had it be painted professionally it had been more attractive avoiding ugly look. Floor, furniture and crockery must also been colorful matching with the building design. Serving staff will have to wear the same styled robes which will certainly be very striking and appealing. Hold your breath! I now advise the owner to advertise in press & also paste a notice at the entrance for the customers that they ought to be dressed up colorfully and not otherwise. Try the litmus test to praise me not stone me.
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Ehsan Jun 23, 2021 06:40pm
Looks very stylish what kind of food?
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Truth be told Jun 23, 2021 07:48pm
@ABE you are being cruel. For tourists it is not what you described. Since we get impressed by Western influence hence you find the colourful pattern cheesy. Look at Pakistani truck culture and countryside and you will appreciate the name as well as the oddly bright colours. Hope it flourishes and he serves the people with quality food at a reasonable price.
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Truth be told Jun 23, 2021 07:49pm
@Mahmood what makes you state that the pakwan is pheeka? Did you venture there? Are you jealous he did and you did not?
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Raz Jun 24, 2021 01:11am
I have seen this from outside.. It look great. I feel we should give colours to our lights and commercial building like we see in other countries. With little change we can make them attractive. Best of luck Noman Masood.
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Omar Saeed Malik Jun 24, 2021 10:27am
This is the third restaurant at this building. I wish it stays and serves good food and desi culinary delights. Best wishes to Noman Masood on his venture. We should encourage entrepreneurs and give constructive feed back. Will try out his KHABA at F-7.
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AJ Jun 25, 2021 11:17am
Good intiative to make something out of a 'mid-life crisis'. Hope the food is as good as the architecture.
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