Midland "foodies" - the rising number of individuals whose hobby is eating well - are helping turn a profit at Birmingham restaurant Opus.
The city centre establishment, now nearing its first anniversary, says it is getting 800 to 1,000 customers a week and growing.
No way, says managing director Ann Tonks, will it follow swish counterpart Paris out of existence despite rumours and whispers perhaps generated by a generally tough retail scenario across the UK.
Opus, unveiled last July in a £1 million launch, says it is ahead of target and trading well.
Its consortium of nine investors - it was set up by professionals for professionals - are in for the long term, it insists.
They include heavyweight accountants and lawyers such as non-executive directors Roman McAlindon and John Crabtree.
Each pumped in anywhere between £25,000 and £100,000, and the management team - most of whom moved from Bank in Brindleyplace - also committed their cash.
In the last ten months the venture is looking at turnover of around £1 million and hopes to hit £1.3 million next year.
"It takes time to build up trade and get into a profitable situation, like any new business," said Mrs Tonks.
But the venue had a good Christmas period and she says it has been more or less in the black since March.
"By and large it is running month to month on a profitable basis and we expect profits for the rest of the year," said Mr McAlindon.
It is aimed at targeting what was perceived as a gap in the market - between the best of the brasseries like Bank and top end venues like Jessicas and Simpsons.
It lies almost opposite the popular and long established Metro - a bar and eaterie. But Mrs Tonks says it was never aimed at competing with Metro, which she admires. Opus wanted to be first and foremost a restaurant serving fine, quality food but at an affordable price.
Lunchtimes have been great, she says, with professionals networking, doing deals while they eat, or simply entertaining clients. Spend per head has been 30-50 per cent higher than budgeted for.
Dinners are going well, often booked out on Saturdays, but needing building up during the week. And private
dining, typically the most profitable, is developing. "That is the key and hugely important to us," said Mrs Tonks.
She is particularly pleased at attracting weekend "foodies" coming into Birmingham from the likes of Solihull, Sutton Coldfield and Warwickshire looking to sample good cuisine in a nice atmosphere at a quality restaurant.
"Attention to good food is growing, both the food we eat at home and when we eat out," said Mrs Tonks.
"More and more people care about where food comes from - part of it is looking after their health. It is becoming a culture."
The majority of Opus sup-pliers are, she says, based in the Midlands including the Birmingham wholesale markets. But some items come from further afield - much of the fish comes from Brixham, South Devon, for example.
The 7,000 sq ft restaurant has some 150 seats.
Mr McAlindon says the investors remain "very enthusiastic" about the project.
Now semi-retired, doing one-off projects and non-executive posts, he says he always wanted to have a stake in a restaurant and enjoys "the buzz".
He went on: "There is always a risk with a new venture - that is inevitable. We obviously expect and hope it will be successful. But we are taking a long view, prepared to let it grow gradually."
And Mrs Tonks, whose team takes in restaurant director Irene Allan and chef directors Dean Cole and David Colcombe, is intending to keep the formula - the right staff, a consistent offer and a tight rein on costs - rolling.
If you get it right restaurants can make "serious money", she emphasises.